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What Are the Top Microbiology Schools in the U.S.?

Learn what to look for when choosing a school with a strong microbiology program. Read about three top ranking programs and explore the degrees available to aspiring microbiologists.

What are Some Characteristics of Top Microbiology Schools?

Microbiology is an interdisciplinary field that involves the study of microorganisms in plants, animals, and humans. Look for programs that have well-known biological and medical science departments, ample undergraduate research opportunities, and exceptional laboratory facilities. Schools backed by major funding sources, like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are also recommended. These schools often host specialized microbiology research institutes and international partnerships.

What are Three Top Microbiology Schools?

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Baltimore, MD

In 2019, JHU was ranked #1 for best regional hospitals in Maryland and Baltimore. You might prepare for graduate microbiology study by pursuing a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Molecular and Cellular Biology through the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. You could also pursue a 5-year combined B.S./Master of Science (M.S.) program.

JHU's Bloomberg School for Public Health's (SPH) W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology offers master's and doctoral degrees. The master's program could prepare you for medical school or lead to a research position involving the study of infectious diseases. SPH hosts microbiology-related centers for autoimmune diseases, malaria and AIDS. Available degrees include:

  • BS in Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • ScM in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
  • ScM in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Master of Health Science (MHS) in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
  • MHS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • PhD in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
  • PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • PhD in Biochemistry, Biophysics, Cellular, Developmental, and Molecular Biology (CMDB)
  • PhD in Pathobiology

Stanford University (SU) in Palo Alto, CA

Stanford's graduate program for biological sciences took first place in the U.S. News & World Report's 2019 rankings for best graduate programs. Admission into the Microbiology and Immunology (M&I) Graduate Home Program requires a bachelor's degree in biology or chemistry, with some course work in biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, immunology, and microbiology. The school's M&I department does not offer a master's degree program except in special circumstances.

Once admitted into the M&I home program, students are encouraged to custom tailor a graduate program that best suits their needs and interests. The school allows students to pick and choose courses from among the other biosciences home programs. Although the M&I department only offers a doctoral degree, microbiology students can find related programs in other departments. Here's a sampling of what's available:

  • BS in Biology
  • MS/BS in Biology
  • PhD in Biology
  • PhD in Microbiology and Immunology
  • PhD in Molecular and Cellular Physiology
  • PhD in Immunology

University of Wisconsin (UW) in Madison

UW was ranked number one for its graduate microbiology program by U.S. News & World Report in 2019. You could pursue bachelor's- or master's-level studies through either the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences' (CALS) Department of Bacteriology or the School of Medicine and Public Health's (SMPH) Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. A summer research program is offered to bachelor's-level students in the Department of Bacteriology; a separate undergraduate research opportunity in Thailand is available for five students.

Students who earn a bachelor's degree in medical microbiology and immunology through the SMPH might be prepared for work in pharmaceutical laboratories or research institutes. UW's Center for Biology Education, as well as the Food Research Institute, could offer potential research project options. The following degrees are available:

  • BS in Microbiology
  • MS in Bacteriology
  • PhD in Microbiology

Ten Top Microbiology Schools

College/UniversityInstitution TypeLocationEstimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
Harvard University4-year, PrivateCambridge, MA$47,000
University of Washington4-year, PublicSeattle, WA$16,500
Massachusetts Institute of Technology4-year, PrivateCambridge, MA$55,000
Rockefeller University4-year, PrivateNew York, NYN/A
University of California--San Francisco4-year, PublicSan Francisco, CA$13,000
Duke University4-year, PrivateDurham, NC$55,000
Washington University in St. Louis4-year, PrivateSt. Louis, MO$53,000
University of Pennsylvania4-year, PrivatePhiladelphia, PA$39,000
University of California--Berkeley4-year, PublicBerkeley, CA$14,000
University of California--San Diego4-year, PublicLa Jolla, CA$13,500

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education