Graduate Degree Programs

Program Overview

How to apply to a Microbiology Graduate Program


The University of Hawaii at Manoa, the founding campus of the system, is located in Manoa Valley on the island of Oahu. From five regular students in 1907, UHM has grown into a comprehensive institution of higher education with more than 20,000 regular daytime degree students.

UHM offers course work leading to the bachelor's degree in 89 fields, master's in 62 and doctorates in 32. It also offers degrees in law and medicine.

The academic year is divided in two 17-week semesters. The Fall semester begins in late August and the Spring semester begins in mid-January. The summer session's two six-week terms begin in May and July.


The University of Hawaii at Manoa is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Professional programs are individually accredited by appropriate agencies. Students may transfer.

Living Accommodations

Prospective students are reminded that acceptance to UHM does not assure them of housing and that housing in Honolulu is scarce and expensive. A limited number of coed dorms and apartment complexes on campus provide some housing for both graduate and undergraduate students. However, Hawaii residents are given priority for these accommodations. For further information, write to: Student Housing Office, UHM, FAX: (808) 956-5995 or 2555 Dole Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822. Be forewarned: the cost of living in Hawaii is high!

Health Care

All classified students enrolled for regular daytime classes are eligible to use the Student Health Service. An outpatient clinic is open Monday through Friday, with physicians and other staff available during the day to provide general medical services.

Because on-campus health services are limited, a student-supplemented health and accident insurance plan is available (compulsory for foreign students); it is strongly recommended for protection from unexpected medical expenditures.

Climate and Clothing

Hawaii's pleasant subtropical climate, with no extremes in temperature, is one of the major attractions for tourists and students from all parts of the world. In the summer the temperature ranges from 75-90° F (24-33° C). During the winter the norm is 72° F (22° C) with more frequent rain. Though the temperature drops only to the lower sixties during the winter months, with the trade winds it can become cool enough to require sweaters and jackets.

The lifestyle in Hawaii, particularly on the campus, is very informal and relaxed. Students dress casually, usually in jeans, shorts, and sports shirts, t-shirts, skirts and blouses, light-weight dresses, sandals, jogging shoes, and rubber slippers (zoris). However, appropriate clothing for other occasions calling for more formal or dressier attire should be included in your wardrobe.


The academic staff of the Department of Microbiology consists of nine faculty (including Emeritus members) plus nine additional graduate faculty members, ten graduate teaching assistants, and a varying number graduate research assistants. Research is generally funded by award of fellowships, contracts, and grants in various areas of microbiology; these help to support a number of graduate students.

The teaching and research facilities of the Department are housed in three floors of Snyder Hall located conveniently in the center of the Manoa Campus. Microbiology is located close to the departments of Botany, Biochemistry and Biophysics, Zoology, and Chemistry and to the resources of the main University Library. The latter contains over 1.8 million volumes which includes 32,380 currently received serial titles and microfilm collections. Additional support facilities include the Computing and Data Processing Center which operates IBM ES/9000 Model 440 running MVS/370-or-ESA, CMS/370-or-ESA and AIX/ESA; VMS/VAX; SUN UNIX, accessible by time-share through remote terminals/PCs in the department.

The Department includes several classrooms, teaching and research laboratories, and office space. On the fifth floor there is a large animal care facility, equipped and maintained in compliance with NIH standards. Among the specialized pieces of major equipment found in the building are the following: analytical and preparative ultracentrifuges, transmission and scanning electron microscopes, fluorescent and phase microscopes, image processing equipment, gas chromatography, scintillation counters, environmental chambers, electrophoretic equipment, and much more!

Program of Study and Aims

The programs of the Department of Microbiology are designed to provide an atmosphere and environment of excellence, where the intellectual curiosity, research abilities and teaching qualities of each graduate student can be developed and expressed. Graduate programs are offered leading to the Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Depending upon previous preparation, each student starts his/her educational career in the Department by studying a core of essential course work in which microorganisms are explored in depth, at the functional, structural and molecular levels and with respect to their interaction with their environments and/or hosts. Further learning experiences towards the student's own professional goals are available through a broad range of courses determined by the student and his/her committee.

These studies may include microbial genetics, cell biology, molecular genetics, microbial physiology and metabolic regulation, microbial ecology, pathogenesis of infectious agents, immunology, environmental microbiology, marine microbiology, virology, and course offerings in allied departments (see course listing and/or University catalog). The proportion of independent to supervised studies will depend on the student's previous training in the area chosen. Overall emphasis is placed on practice in critical and analytical thought and on the creative design and implementation of experimental procedures required for testing original and significant hypotheses.

Teaching experience can be gained by participation in instructional activities and by frequent presentation of literature and research seminars. Trainees have access to laboratories equipped for cell culture, virology, animal experimentation, immunobiological and immunochemical analyses, monoclonal antibody facility, ultrastructure, microbial genetics, physiology and environmental microbiology. The wide range of faculty interests, and the availability of research space and facilities should give each student an opportunity to pursue the area of microbiology he/she wishes to study. In some cases, special interdisciplinary programs can be arranged.

Admission Standards

The admission policy of the Department is based on the applicant's potential to become a productive scholar, teacher, and/or research investigator in microbiology, as determined from available academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, results of special or required examinations, the applicant's stated professional objectives and other documents which may be relevant for objective evaluation of the applicant's strengths. We actively seek to maintain the principle of equal opportunity for all candidates.

The Department welcomes applicants with backgrounds in other sciences. Normally two semesters each of calculus, organic chemistry and physics and a semester of quantitative or analytical chemistry is expected of applicants with baccalaureate degrees. Such courses may be stipulated as "deficiencies" to be made up early in the graduate program. Undergraduate courses in Microbiology will also be required if the applicant lacks these.

Financial Support

All applicants are considered for financial aid in the form of graduate teaching assistantships and graduate research assistantships. Students desiring financial aid should make every effort to have a complete application by the application deadlines (Feb 1 and Aug 1).  Generally announcement of awards is made about May 1. The number of awards is limited.