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Top 10 Microbiology Schools

by Douglas Matus

A degree in microbiology opens the door to a wide range of options in the professional arena. Since microbes are part of most biological processes and are found almost everywhere, jobs for microbiologists can take a variety of forms. Whether you want to work in government, industry, or health care, a degree from a top ten microbiology school can greatly boost your chances.

Harvard

Microbiologists are at the forefront of the search for an AIDS vaccine.

Ranked the No. 1 microbiology program in 2010 by "U.S. News and World Report," Harvard has a rich legacy in the history of this science. Distinguished alumni include Hans Zinsser, whose work led to an understanding of typhus, and John Enders, who won the Nobel Prize for his development of multiple vaccines. Current study focuses on research into new vaccines, including a vaccine for AIDS.

Stanford

Students interested in small class sizes should consider Stanford.

Founded over a century ago, the Department of Microbiology at Stanford has had many names to reflect the evolution of life sciences and medicine. This program focuses primarily on the improvement of human health, with 40 percent of the faculty holding an M.D. This small program consists of only 75 students.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Without microbiology, we would not have milk in the long-lasting and pure form we are used to.

The Department of Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers degrees in microbiology. The first microbiology class in American history was taught here in 1881, and the department itself was founded in 1914. Major contributions from the school include the development of pasteurization and the discovery of penicillin’s strongest strain.

Johns Hopkins University

Malaria would kills millions more per year if not for the efforts of microbiologists.

The current home of microbiology studies at Johns Hopkins was the first independent Department of Immunology in the United States. Students and faculty here focus their research on autoimmune diseases, AIDS and malaria. The department was named for W. Harry Feinstone, a pharmaceutical researcher whose numerous endowments made the program what it is today.

University of California-San Francisco

The nationally ranked Department of Microbiology and Immunology seeks to bring advanced knowledge of microbes to all students in pharmacy, medicine, and dentistry, and also offers a doctorate in microbiology. This department boasts 21 full-time faculty members, including J. Michael Bishop, the winner of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Washington University in St. Louis

Housed in the state-of-the-art McDonnell Pediatric Research Building, this Department of Molecular Microbiology offers a top ranked environment for all students of biological microbes. The focus here is on the rapid transfer of scientific discovery into clinical practice. In 2009, Washington University inaugurated the Center for Women’s Infectious Disease Research.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Microbiology at MIT is an award-winning program that focuses on interdisciplinary cooperation. The program hosts over 50 faculty members from various departments who lend their knowledge to the study of microbes. This school is of primary interest to those who wish to explore the role of microbes in energy production.

University of California-Berkeley

The Center for Microbiology at Berkeley offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Located on one of the most historic campuses in the country, this department utilizes the advanced Lawrence Berkeley laboratory, owned by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Center for Microbiology focuses most of its research on environmental science and engineering.

Yale

The Program in Microbiology at Yale is a multi-department endeavor that focuses on the total biology of microbes through an interdisciplinary approach. This nationally ranked program is a small and cohesive community, with numerous connections to the technologically rich Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program. The BBS program has 350 faculty members, most of whom work with the Program in Microbiology.

Michigan State University

The Microbiology and Molecular Genetics Department at MSU is one of the oldest and largest in the country. With 50 full and joint faculty members and 350 students, this program promotes diversity in the study of microbiology. The department is housed in the largest academic facility operated by Michigan State, the Biomedical Physical Sciences Building.

About the Author

Douglas Matus is the travel writer for "West Fort Worth Lifestyle" magazine, and spent four years as the Director of Humanities for a college-prep school in Austin. Since 2005, he has published articles on education, travel and culture in such publications as "Nexus," "People's World" and "USA Today." Matus received an Education Pioneers fellowship in 2010 and an MFA from CalArts in 2011.

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