College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

Microbial Biology


Microbial biology is a pivotal field of study because small life forms such as microbes, viruses, and fungi make up the majority of planetary biomass, and constitute key branches of the Tree of Life. Microbes play fundamental roles in maintaining biosphere health: they degrade environmental pollutants; they supply essential nutrients and chemicals directly to multi-cellular organisms, and they engage in numerous beneficial symbioses with higher organisms. Infectious diseases regulate populations of plant and animals, and outbreaks recur in human societies globally.

What will I study?

In the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, the microbial biology major involves studying small life forms such as microbes, fungi, and viruses. Classes range in content, and include Virology, California Mushrooms, Plant Genetics, and Modern Applications of Plant Biotechnology.

How much coursework is required?

Lower division requirements involve 27 units of humanities courses and 32-35 units of math, chemistry, physics, statistics, and biology.

Required upper division requirements focus on genetics and microbiology (18 units), with an additional 15 units chosen from the electives list for Microbial Biology (see MB Major Requirements ), for a total of 120 units.

What can I do with this major?

The Microbial Biology (MB) major is designed for students interested in competing for research positions in:

  • government, industry, and academia
  • pre-med and pre-vet students
  • those interested in biology in general
  • those interested in pursuing post-graduate education in biology.

The major would be especially useful for those interested in teaching biology at the secondary school level.

The Department of Plant and Microbial Biology welcomes every prospective student to a broad interdisciplinary training to prepare them for professional careers opportunities in the academic, public or commercial sectors.


Undergraduate Advisor: Jenny Cornet-Carrillo
(510) 642-4249
260 Mulford Hall
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-3100

Faculty Advisor: John Coates