Microbiology is the study of microorganisms (bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi) and viruses. The Department offers a BS in microbiology with research opportunities to conduct original research and investigate different aspects of microbial structure and function.

Microorganisms were the first living things on earth, and they remain the most abundant and the most diverse of all organisms. They can cause diseases of plants, animals and humans; they play critical roles in biogeochemical cycles and bioremediation; and they are important in the food and biotechnology industries.

As a microbiologist, students will be on the cutting edge of developments in public health, industrial production processes, biotechnology, and drug discovery. The microbiology major prepares students for a variety of careers in the fields of microbiology, virology, molecular biology, biotechnology, and health related professions, for graduate studies in medical microbiology, industrial microbiology, environmental microbiology, microbial biotechnology, and molecular biology, and for professional studies in pharmacy, dentistry, and medicine.

Course of Study – Bachelor of Science Degree

Complete 120 credits including 90 credits in the College of Letters & Science and with 36 of the 90 credits in L&S upper-level (numbered above 300) courses and 30 of those 36 credits in designated Advanced Natural Science courses. The College requires that students must complete in residence at UWM at least 15 credits in upper-division (numbered 300 or above) courses in their major. Students are also required to complete University-wide General Education Requirements and the specific L&S requirements listed below.

To complete a major, students must satisfy all the requirements of the major as stated in this catalog. Students who declare their majors within five years of entering the UW System as a degree candidate may satisfy the requirements outlined in any catalog issued since the time they entered. Credits used to satisfy the major also may be used to satisfy other degree requirements.

University General Education Requirements (GER)

Oral and Written Communication
Part A
Achieve a grade of C or better in the following course:
ENGLISH 102College Writing and Research (or equivalent)
Part B
Course designated as OWC-B; may be completed through a major-specific course requirement
Quantitative Literacy
Part A
Earn at least 3 credits with a grade of C or higher in one of the following courses or an equivalent course, or achieve a placement code of at least 30 on the mathematics placement test (or other appropriate test, as determined by the Mathematical Sciences Department)
Mathematical Literacy for College Students II
Contemporary Applications of Mathematics
Introduction to College Algebra
Algebraic Literacy II
Introduction to Logic - Critical Reasoning 1
Introduction to Logic - Critical Reasoning
College Algebra
Or equivalent course
Part B
Course designated as QL-B; may be completed through a major-specific course requirement
Select 3 credits3
Select 6 credits6
Social Sciences
Select 6 credits6
Natural Sciences
Select 6 credits (at least two courses including one lab)6
UWM Foreign Language Requirement
Complete Foreign Language Requirement through:
Two years (high school) of a single foreign language
Two semesters (college) of a single foreign language
Or equivalent
UWM Cultural Diversity Requirement
One course from the Arts, Humanities, or Social Sciences must also satisfy UWM's Cultural Diversity requirement

 Math 111 and Philosophy 111 are jointly offered and count as repeats of one another. Students cannot receive credit for both courses.

College of Letters & Science Requirements

I. English Composition Requirement

Students must satisfy the English Composition Requirement with one of the following options:

1) Completing ENGLISH 102 with a grade of C or higher; or

2) placing beyond English 102 on the English Placement Test (EPT) (or other assessment as determined by the English Department); or

3) transferring a course of at least 2.5 equivalent credits from another institution that is equivalent to English 102, or a UWM higher-level expository writing course, with a grade of C or higher.

Note: This requirement is the same as the University General Education Requirement for Oral and Written Communication Part A. The College of Letters & Science does not have a specific requirement for a writing course beyond English 102, but students must complete the university-wide requirement for Oral and Written Communication Part B listed above.

II. Mathematics and Formal Reasoning

To satisfy the Mathematics and Formal Reasoning Requirement, Bachelors of Sciences degree students must satisfy the following two requirements:

1. Complete one of the following courses or an equivalent course:

MATH 211Survey in Calculus and Analytic Geometry I4
MATH 213Calculus with Life Sciences Applications4
MATH 221Honors Calculus I5
MATH 231Calculus and Analytic Geometry I4

2. Complete one course (at least 3 credits) at the 200 level or above chosen from courses in Mathematics, PHILOS 211, or Letters and Science statistics courses:

Complete one of the following:
3 or more credits in any 200-level or above Math course
Introduction to Statistics in African and African Diaspora Studies
Introduction to Anthropological Statistics
Economic Statistics
Quantitative Analysis in Geography
The Quantitative Analysis of Historical Data
Elementary Statistical Analysis
Elementary Logic
Political Data Analysis
Survey Research
Psychological Statistics
Introduction to Statistical Thinking in Sociology

Note: This requirement is NOT the same as the University General Education Requirement for Quantitative Literacy Part B. To complete the BS, students must take one of the L&S approved courses. Not all of the courses listed here will satisfy the QL-B requirement.

III. Foreign Language Requirement 

Two courses (minimum of 6 credits) in a language (including American Sign Language) other than English at the 100 level or above are required.

Placement testing may be used to satisfy all or part of this requirement. Language courses (including American Sign Language) other than English taken in high school may be used to satisfy all or part of this requirement. One year of high school language equates to one semester of college work.

Completion of the L&S Language Requirement also satisfies the university-wide Foreign Language GER, but not vice versa.

IV. International Requirement 

See Approved Courses for the L&S International Requirement for course options.  

Completed in one of the following ways:9
Complete 3 courses (min. 9 cr) in a single foreign language (not including literature-in-translation or American Sign Language) at the 3rd semester level and above.
Complete 3 non-language courses (min. 9 credits) with an international content chosen from at least 2 curricular areas.
Complete 9 credits in combination of the two options above.

V. Breadth Requirement

Along with completing the University General Education Requirements of 3 credits in the Arts (A); 6 credits in the Humanities (HU), Social Sciences (SS), and Natural Sciences (NS/NS+); and a course with the Cultural Diversity (CD/+) designation, L&S students must complete the Breadth requirement.

Select 3 credits3
Complete 12 credits of L&S courses with Humanities Breadth designation; no more than 6 credits from a single subject area. *12
Social Sciences
Complete 12 credits of L&S Courses with Social Science Breadth designation; no more than 6 credits from a single curricular area. *12
Natural Sciences
Complete 12 credits of L&S Courses with Natural Sciences Breadth designation, including laboratory or field courses from three different curricular areas. *12
Cultural Diversity
Complete 3 credits in a course with Cultural Diversity (CD) designation. **3

Students should check their course selections carefully with the list of approved L&S Breadth Courses. Students are advised to select at least 6 credits worth of courses in each of the Humanities, Social Science, and Natural Sciences areas that can satisfy both the campus-wide General Education Requirements and the L&S Breadth requirement.


Students are advised to select a course that satisfies the Cultural Diversity requirement as well as a Humanities or Social Science breadth/GER requirement. 

 VI. The Major

The College requires that students attain at least a 2.0 GPA in all credits in the major attempted at UWM. In addition, students must attain a 2.0 GPA on all major credits attempted, including any transfer work. Individual departments or programs may require higher GPAs for graduation. Some departmental majors require courses from other departments. Contact your major department for information on whether those credits will count as part of the major GPA. The College requires that students must complete in residence at UWM at least 15 credits in upper-division (numbered 300 or above) courses in their major.

Research Requirement

Within their majors, students must complete a research experience approved by the L&S faculty. A list of courses satisfying the research requirement in each major can be found here.

VII. The Minor

The College requires that students attain at least a 2.0 GPA in all credits in the minor attempted at UWM. In addition, students must attain a 2.0 GPA on all minor credits attempted, including any transfer work. Individual departments or programs may require higher GPAs for graduation. 

Microbiology Major Requirements

Microbiology is the study of microorganisms such as bacteria, archaea, protists, fungi, and viruses. Prospective Microbiology majors should consult with a faculty advisor as early as possible, preferably before the beginning of the junior year, in order to outline an appropriate course of study. Students should consult their advisor at least once each semester.

At least 15 credits of advanced (300 and above) Microbiology courses must be taken in residence at UWM. Students must attain an average GPA of 2.0 in Microbiology courses attempted at UWM. In addition, students must attain a 2.0 GPA on all major credits attempted, including any transfer work.


The Microbiology major requires a minimum of 34 credits in Microbiology. The required and elective courses in Biological Sciences, CHEM 501, and BMS 534BMS 535BMS 539, and BMS 540 count as "Microbiology" courses for this purpose. A combined limit of 6 credits in BIO SCI 290BIO SCI 695BIO SCI 697BIO SCI 698, and BIO SCI 699 counts toward the major.

BIO SCI 150Foundations of Biological Sciences I4
BIO SCI 152Foundations of Biological Sciences II4
BIO SCI 325Genetics4
BIO SCI 383General Microbiology4
Select two of the following:6
Molecular Biology of Microorganisms
Bacterial Pathogenesis
Microbial Diversity and Physiology
Research Requirement
Select credits in the following:
Internship in Biotechnology, Upper Division
Undergraduate Seminar in Microbiology
Independent Study in Microbiology
Independent Study 1
Research in Honors 1
Senior Honors Project 1
Senior Honors Thesis 1
Microbiology Electives
BIO SCI 315Cell Biology3
or CHEM 501 Introduction to Biochemistry
Select one of the following:4
Laboratory Techniques in Molecular Biology
Experimental Microbiology
Select additional elective credits (see below)
Other Requirements
CHEM 102General Chemistry5
CHEM 104General Chemistry and Qualitative Analysis5
CHEM 343Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 344Organic Chemistry Laboratory2
CHEM 345Organic Chemistry3
Select one of the following:4-5
Survey in Calculus and Analytic Geometry I
Calculus with Life Sciences Applications
Honors Calculus I
Calculus and Analytic Geometry I
Select one of the following:3-5
Elementary Statistical Analysis
Honors Calculus II
Calculus and Analytic Geometry II
Select one of the following options:9-10
Option 1:
General Physics I (Non-Calculus Treatment)
General Physics II (Non-Calculus Treatment)
General Physics Laboratory II (Non-Calculus Treatment)
Option 2:
Physics I (Calculus Treatment)
Physics II (Calculus Treatment)
Lab Physics II (Calculus Treatment)
Option 3:
Physics I: Calculus-Based, Studio Format
Physics II: Calculus-Based, Studio Format
Total Credits63-67

When determined by the student's Microbiology faculty advisor to have Microbiology content.

Additional Electives

Students choose courses from this list to complete their 26 credits of upper-level (300 or above) microbiology courses.

BIO SCI 315Cell Biology3
BIO SCI 316Laboratory in Genetics and Cell Biology2
BIO SCI 401Immunology3
BIO SCI 405General Virology3
BIO SCI 465Biostatistics3
BIO SCI 469Genomic Data Analysis2
BIO SCI 490Molecular Genetics3
BIO SCI 529Molecular Biology of Microorganisms (if not selected above)3
BIO SCI 535Bacterial Pathogenesis (if not selected above)3
BIO SCI 539Laboratory Techniques in Molecular Biology (if not selected above)4
BIO SCI 540Microbial Diversity and Physiology (if not selected above)3
BIO SCI 542Biological Electron Microscopy3
BIO SCI 544Transmission Electron Microscopy Laboratory3
BIO SCI 572Functional Genomics3
BIO SCI 580Experimental Microbiology4
CHEM 501Introduction to Biochemistry3
CHEM 601Biochemistry: Protein Structure and Function3
BMS 534Medical Microbiology 23
BMS 535Medical Microbiology Laboratory 22
BMS 539Public Health Microbiology 22
BMS 540Public Health Microbiology Lab 22

Only BIO SCI 699 or HONORS 686, HONORS 687, or HONORS 689 projects that are determined by the student's microbiology faculty advisor to have microbiology content count toward the major.


Students may elect to take these BMS courses to earn credit toward the Microbiology major option provided that they earn 30 advanced credits in Natural Sciences within the College of Letters and Science, as required for the BS degree.

Letters & Science Advising

During your time at UWM, you may have multiple members of your success team, including advisors, peer mentors, and success coaches. Letters and Science students typically work with at least two different types of advisors as they pursue their degrees: professional College Advisors and Faculty Advisors. L&S College Advisors advise across your entire degree program while departmental Faculty Advisors focus on the major.

College Advisors are located in Holton Hall and serve as your primary advisor. They are your point person for your questions about navigating college and completing your degree. College Advisors will:

  • assist you in defining your academic and life goals;
  • help you create an educational plan that is consistent with those goals;
  • assist you in understanding curriculum, major and degree requirements for graduation, as well as university policies and procedures;
  • provide you with information about campus and community resources and refer you to those resources as appropriate; and 
  • monitor your progress toward graduation and completion of requirements.

Faculty Advisors mentor students in the major and assist them in maximizing their development in the program. You will begin working with a Faculty Advisor when you declare your major. Faculty Advisors are an important partner and will:

  • help you understand major requirements and course offerings in the department; 
  • explain opportunities for internships and undergraduate research and guide you in obtaining those experiences; and 
  • serve as an excellent resource as you consider potential graduate programs and career paths in your field.

Students are encouraged to meet with both their College Advisor and Faculty Advisor at least once each semester. Appointments are available in-person, by phone or by video. 

Currently enrolled students should use the Navigate360 website to make an appointment with your assigned advisor or call (414) 229-4654 if you do not currently have an assigned Letters & Science advisor. Prospective students who haven't enrolled in classes yet should call (414) 229-7711 or email let-sci@uwm.edu.

Department Advising

Students should contact an advisor (uwm.edu/biology/undergraduate/advising/) as soon as possible in their freshman year about required courses and the recommended course sequence within Biological Sciences programs. The student should attend fall or spring departmental Open Advising or contact a Department of Biological Sciences faculty advisor (uwm.edu/biology/undergraduate/advising/) who will then guide the student in planning his/her course choices to accomplish his/her goals. Students should consult their College academic advisors in Holton Hall and their faculty advisors in the Department of Biological Sciences prior to each registration period.

Major or Minor Declaration

Students can declare a major or minor by contacting a faculty advisor in Biological Sciences or attending fall or spring departmental Open Advising. Students can declare more than one major or a combination of major and minors.

Failure to complete a declaration of major may result in a delay in graduation.

Honors in the Major

Students in biological sciences who meet all of the following criteria are awarded honors in the major upon graduation:

  1. 3.500 cumulative GPA in all UWM graded credits attempted;
  2. 3.750 GPA in UWM courses counting toward the major;
  3. 3.500 GPA in all advanced credits that count toward the major; and
  4. Complete a laboratory or field research independent study (BIO SCI 697, BIO SCI 698, or BIO SCI 699) or internship (BIO SCI 489 or CES 489).

Students who believe they may qualify for honors in biological sciences should apply to the Department during their last semester of study.

College of Letters and Science Dean's Honor List

GPA of 3.750 or above, earned on a full-time student's GPA on 12 or more graded credits in a given semester.

Honors College Degree and Honors College Degree with Distinction

Granted to graduating seniors who complete Honors College requirements, as listed in the Honors College section of this site.

Commencement Honors

Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.500 or above, based on a minimum of 40 graded UWM credits earned prior to the final semester, will receive all-university commencement honors and be awarded the traditional gold cord at the December or May Honors Convocation. Please note that for honors calculation, the GPA is not rounded and is truncated at the third decimal (e.g., 3.499).

Final Honors

Earned on a minimum of 60 graded UWM credits: Cum Laude - 3.500 or above; Magna Cum Laude - 3.650 or above; Summa Cum Laude - 3.800 or above.