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Degree, Minors and Certificates Offered

General Information

Undergraduate Programs

Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences



College of Natural Sciences
Snyder 207
2538 McCarthy Mall
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8553
Fax: (808) 956-5339


*Graduate Faculty

*S. P. Donachie, PhD (Chair)—marine microbiology, coral microbiology, microbial diversity, and taxonomy
*J. T. Douglas, PhD—medical microbiology and infectious diseases
*T. T. Hoang, PhD—bacterial genetics, physiology, and molecular pathogenesis
*S. Prisic, PhD—molecular pathogenesis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, alternative robosomal proteins, protein phosphorylation
B. J. Smagghe—cancer therapeutics, stem cell reagents, protein engineering

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

M. Bankowski, PhD
S. N. Bennett, PhD
D. Borthakur, PhD
S. P. Chang, PhD
M. Kirs, PhD
Y. Lu, PhD
F. D. Miller, PhD
V. R. Nerurkar, PhD
M. S. Rappe, PhD
S. E. Seifried, PhD
B. A. Yoza, PhD

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

H. Turner, PhD
C. Whelen, PhD

Degrees Offered: BA (including minor) in microbiology, BS in microbiology, BS in molecular cell biology, MS in microbiology, PhD in microbiology

The Academic Program

Microbiology (MICR) deals with microscopic forms of life and their activities. Bacteria, algae, fungi, protozoa, and viruses are included in this discipline. The field is diverse and concerns the nature of microorganisms, as well as their interactions–both advantageous and adverse–with other organisms and with the environment. Entire academic disciplines and commercial enterprises are based on what microorganisms do. For example, the very forms that may cause infectious diseases and epidemics may also support industries that produce vaccines or antimicrobial agents. Micro­organisms play an essential role in the cycling of the limited supply of nutrients available on Earth’s surface by decomposing plant and animal remains, and by being primary producers of food in the oceans. Many microorganisms or their products may be eaten, drunk, used as fuel, or disposed of as undesirable. They may be used to clean up the environment or controlled only with great effort to prevent corrosive, obnoxious, or destructive activities that they may bring about. Microbiology also deals with the physiology, biochemistry, genetics, and molecular biology of microorganisms. Many of the advances in DNA technology are mediated through bacteria, yeasts, and viruses; much of what we know about metabolism in general comes from their study.


Majors should visit or contact to meet with an advisor.

Undergraduate Study

Students must earn a grade of C (not C-) or higher in each course applied to the major, including required courses in CHEM, BIOL, PHYS, and MATH.

BA in Microbiology


Students must complete the following:
  • 18 credit hours in microbiology, including required courses:
    • MICR 351/351L
    • Three courses from MICR 361, 401, 431, 461, 463, 470, 475, 485, and 490, plus 4 credits of associated laboratories
  • The following required related courses:
    • BIOL 171, 172, 275 plus labs
    • CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L; or 181A/181L
    • CHEM 272/272L and 273
    • MATH 215 or 241
    • PHYS 151/151L or 170/170L, and 152/152L or 272/272L
  • 9 credits of approved major electives

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to

BS Degree in Microbiology


Students must complete the following:

  • 23 credit hours in microbiology, including required courses:
    • MICR 351/351L, 431, 461, 475; and
      one course from MICR 361, 401, 463, 470, 485, or 490, plus 6 credits of 400-level MICR lab courses
  • The following required related courses:
    • BIOL 171, 172, 275 plus labs
    • BIOC 441 or MBBE 402
    • CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L or 181A/181L
    • CHEM 272/272L and 273
    • MATH 215 and 216 or 241 and 242
    • PHYS 151/151L or 170/170L, and 152/152L or 272/272L
  • 6 credits of approved major electives

BS Degree in Molecular Cell Biology

The BS degree in Molecular Cell Biology (MCB) is designed to prepare students for careers in fields that require advanced knowledge of molecular biology, in particular those that relate to human health and welfare. Examples of such fields include, but are not limited to, medicine, pharmacology, pathology, genetic testing and counseling, biotechnology, nanotechnology, teaching, and basic research.


Students must complete the following:

  • 23 credits hours including required courses:
    • BIOL 375/375L, 407, 408/408L
    • MBBE 402 or BIOC 441
    • MCB 314, 461, 472
  • The following required related courses:
    • BIOL 171/171L, 172/172L, 275/275L
    • CHEM 161/161L and 162/162L or 181A/181L
    • CHEM 272/272L and 273
    • PHYS 151/151L and 152/152L, or 170/170L and 272/272L
    • MATH 215 and 216 or 241 and 242
  • 10 credits of approved major electives, a minimum of 1 credit of an approved elective laboratory

Major electives should be chosen with the assistance and approval of an advisor in Edmondson Hall 216, and in the department, to provide a well integrated and coherent program. Prospective majors should consult the microbiology/molecular cell biology advisors promptly, so as to design a curriculum that satisfies the major requirements.

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to

Minor in Microbiology


Students must complete 15 credits of 300- and 400-level MICR courses, of which five credits must be MICR 351/351L.

All prerequisites for these courses must be met. Persons wishing to complete the minor and graduate in four years should have completed CHEM 272, if possible, before the middle of the junior year.

Graduate Study

The department offers programs leading to the MS and PhD in microbiology with areas of specialization in microbial ecology, biochemistry, physiology, genetics, and ultrastructure; metabolic regulation and the regulation of gene expression; marine microbiology; medical microbiology; animal and environmental virology and viral pathobiology; and immunology, immunogenetics, and immunochemistry. In addition, an option is offered in cell biology that leads to the MS and PhD in microbiology. Research programs in interdisciplinary fields are possible. Graduate students in microbiology may join two interdisciplinary graduate specializations: the Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (EECB) Program, and the Marine Biology (MB) Program.

Applicants for advanced degree programs in the department must supplement the forms and transcripts required by Graduate Division with three letters of recommendation and the official scores from the GRE General Test. These supplementary items should be sent directly to the department.

Complete details on the graduate program in microbiology and the availability of financial aid to prospective students are outlined in a departmental brochure available on request from the department, Snyder 207, 2538 McCarthy Mall.

Courses for the graduate programs are to be selected from the list below and from other graduate offerings in related disciplines as directed by the student’s advisor or advising committee. The following courses may be repeated: MICR 625, 632, 652, 671, 680, 681, 690, 699, 700, 795, and 800. However, repeated courses other than MICR 699, 700, 795, and 800 may only be used for credit once per degree. MICR 690 is a required course. Course deficiencies shall be made up before admission to candidacy.

Both the MS and the PhD are research degrees requiring a research project, a thesis or dissertation, and an oral defense. Prospective graduate students are encouraged to contact faculty or cooperating graduate faculty to determine whether there might be a laboratory that is conducting research of interest and to determine which laboratories are taking new students (see the department website at to find areas of research and faculty contact information).

Master’s Degree

Intended candidates for the MS degree should present a minimum undergraduate preparation in biological and physical sciences including biology, genetics, microbiology, organic chemistry, physics, and calculus. Deficiencies in some of these areas do not preclude admission. Qualified students with undergraduate majors in fields other than microbiology are welcome.


Plan A Minimum Requirements - 30 credit hours

  • 2 units of directed research (MICR 699);
  • 1 credit of seminar (MICR 690);
  • 6 credit hours of thesis (MICR 700);
  • additional 12 credit hours of course work at the 600 level or higher; plus
  • 9 credit hours at the 400 level or higher
  • Note: 3 credit maximum of MICR 695 may be applied towards the MS Plan A degree.

Doctoral Degree

The doctoral degree (PhD) is offered in microbiology in the various areas of interest represented by research programs of the department’s graduate faculty.

Course work requirements for a PhD are the same as those for the MS degree (with MICR 800 replacing MICR 700). However, consideration will be given to those who already possess an MS in Microbiology or closely related field.


The PhD candidate must demonstrate the ability to do original experimental research and to produce an acceptable dissertation. A comprehensive examination, written and oral, is required, and the dissertation must be successfully defended before the faculty. Experience in teaching in a laboratory course is considered a desirable part of the training of the PhD candidate. The specific requirements for each of the joint degree programs are modified somewhat from those given above.

MICR Courses

MCB Courses