About the Program
The Graduate Group in Microbiology is composed of faculty from diverse departments, colleges, and schools (Plant and Microbial Biology; Molecular and Cell Biology; Public Health; Civil and Environmental Engineering; Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; Environmental Science, Policy, and Management; Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology; Optometry; Integrative Biology). It is administered by the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology. The group awards the PhD degree in Microbiology. Students in the group have access to diverse disciplines through an integrated program of study that allows each student to pursue specialized interests. Students gain a breadth of understanding of microbiology from the molecular to the cellular levels of organization, as well as the interactions of microbes — beneficial and pathogenic — with other organisms.
Faculty in the Graduate Group in Microbiology have research interests in four broad areas: ecology and evolution, genetics and development, physiology and biochemistry, and host-microbe interactions. The research of many faculty spans more than one of these categories. In addition, the research goals vary from addressing fundamental questions in biology to applied studies in the control or use of microbes. Some faculty conduct research on both fundamental and applied topics.
Admission to the University
Applying for Graduate Admission
Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. A complete list of graduate academic departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.
Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application can be found on the Graduate Division website.
The minimum graduate admission requirements are:
A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and
Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.
For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.
Where to apply?
Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.
Admission to the Program
Students admitted to the Graduate Group in Microbiology program are expected to demonstrate academic excellence and potential for independent scientific research and to have satisfied, or satisfy through additional coursework, the curriculum required of an undergraduate major in microbial biology. Students are expected to have a background in chemistry, physics, mathematics, and biology. An admissions committee composed of nine faculty members and one graduate student will review applications and make recommendations to the full faculty on admissions matters. Recommendations for admission will be based on grades in university-level undergraduate and graduate courses, letters of recommendation, written statements of academic and professional goals, and other evidence of academic accomplishment.
Doctoral Degree Requirements
Normative Time Requirements
Normative Time to Advancement
Normative time to advancement to PhD candidacy is two years.
Students perform three laboratory rotations in order to explore areas of research interest and identify a faculty mentor, dissertation project, and laboratory. Students undertake required core classes and attend seminars of interest.
Students attend seminars, enroll in core courses, perform their first teaching assignment, and prepare for the PhD qualifying exam which consists of two research proposals and an oral examination. With the successful passing of the qualifying exam, students select a dissertation committee and advance to candidacy for the PhD degree prior to the start of the fifth semester.
Normative Time in Candidacy
Students attend seminars of interest and perform their second teaching assignment. Students conduct original laboratory research for the PhD dissertation with the guidance of their faculty mentor and a self-selected three to four-person dissertation committee. Students are required to meet annually with the dissertation committee. Students write the dissertation based on the results of their research. Upon approval of the dissertation by the dissertation committee and Graduate Division, students are awarded the doctorate. There is no formal defense of the completed dissertation; however, students are required to publicly present a talk about their research in the final year.
Total Normative Time
Total normative time to degree is 5–5.5 years.
Time to Advancement
|PLANTBI 202||Faculty Research Review||2|
|PLANTBI 205A||Introduction to Research||2-12|
|PLANTBI 205B||Introduction to Research||2-12|
|PLANTBI 210||Scientific Reasoning and Logic||1|
|PLANTBI 220A||Microbial Genetics||1.5|
|PLANTBI 220B||Genomics and Computational Biology||1.5|
|PLANTBI 220C||Microbial Diversity and Evolution||1.5|
|PLANTBI 220D||Cell Structure and Function||1.5|
|PLANTBI 220E||Microbial Physiology||1.5|
|PLANTBI 220F||Microbial Ecology||1.5|
|PLANTBI 290||Seminar (or equivalent)||2|
|PLANTBI 292||Research Review in Plant and Microbial Biology||1|
|PLANTBI 298||Plant Biology Group Studies (department colloquium)||1-6|
|PLANTBI 299||Graduate Research||1-12|
|PLANTBI 375||Workshop on Teaching||2|
|PLANTBI 602||Individual Study for Graduate Students||1-2|
All microbiology graduate students are strongly encouraged to present their research annually from the third year and beyond in a public forum. Graduate students attend the Plant & Microbial Biology (PMB) Department retreat at least once during their graduate studies. Students are encouraged to attend both the Plant & Microbial Biology Department retreat and the Graduate Group in Microbiology retreat and present their research. Students are highly encouraged to present during the PMB Department student/post-doc seminar series. They are also encouraged to attend national and international conferences to present research.
Microbiology graduate students are required to teach two semesters. Students are required to teach in two distinctly different classroom settings; specifically, teaching in a large enrollment course (100+) and a small upper division, lab, or low enrollment (< 100) course.
Students are encouraged to take PLANTBI 297, Grant Writing and Research Presentation.
Graduate Group in Microbiology
111 Koshland Hall
Chair, Plant and Microbial Biology (PMB) Dept
Sheng Luan, PhD
Britt Glaunsinger, PhD
Head Graduate Advisor
Arash Komeili, PhD