The major program in microbiology at the bachelor's level is designed to provide general and basic training in microbiology and to some extent in related fields, such as medical technology, sanitary science, and biochemistry. The program will qualify a student for (a) graduate study in microbiology; (b) entrance into medical, or dental, or pharmacy school (includes selecting a small number of additional courses); (c) positions as research technicians at various universities and research institutes; (d) positions in federal, state, and local governmental agencies; and (e) positions in the pharmaceutical, food, brewing, chemical, and dairy industries. Because of its practical nature, microbiology offers wider direct employment opportunities in industry and related fields than is found in the other biological sciences.
Microbiologists specialize in the study of bacteria, viruses, protozoans, fungi, helminths and immunological principles and techniques. The terms microbiology and bacteriology are often used interchangeably, but microbiology is now considered the more accurate term to use when referring to the study of microorganisms. In the area of medical microbiology, microbiologists investigate microorganisms that cause infectious diseases. The public health microbiologist is concerned with the control of diseases, and the safety of water supplies, foods, and the general environment.
In the area of industrial or applied microbiology, microbiologists are interested in microorganisms that are beneficial to humans and other forms of life, as well as those organisms that cause spoilage of food and various manufactured products.
In the basic scientific field, microbiologists study many of the fundamental problems of biological sciences in areas such as cellular physiology, molecular biology, and genetics using microorganisms for experimentation purposes.