Microbiology-Immunology Master’s Program moves to CSU Online

The Microbiology-Immunology Master’s Program welcomes its first CSU Online students this fall, providing flexibility through online live, or recorded, classes to complete a master’s degree in one or two years. Leveraging the biomedical and infectious disease expertise within the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology at Colorado State University, the program will conclude in-person courses and transition fully online to train a greater network of scientists beyond Colorado.

“Students who go through our program learn how infectious diseases work and use that knowledge to make a difference in the world, by developing new types of drugs, therapeutics, or vaccines… or applying it toward patients, animal or human, that they might work with in the future,” says Associate Professor Brian Geiss, director of the Microbiology-Immunology Master’s Program.

Brian Geiss, director of the Microbiology-Immunology Master's Program.
Brian Geiss, Microbiology-Immunology Master’s Program director. (CSU photo)

Instructors bring their experience as faculty with active research labs, international backgrounds and industry leadership, as well as their passion as scientists and mentors to the classroom. Courses provide a deep understanding of emerging pathogens, applied immunology, virology, molecular biology, and medical microbiology through real data, case studies, and guest speakers. The degree is also one of the few biomedical sciences programs in the United States that dedicate a full course to biosafety and biosecurity, taught by Rebecca Moritz, the CSU Biosafety Director.

To sharpen their professional skills, students engage with current scientific literature, collaborate with classmates, and present projects throughout the program. All students write a final scholarly paper, which applies what they’ve learned in the program to a focused topic they’re passionate about. By critically assessing current research, students produce cutting-edge review papers that essentially make them “the expert on the topic,” says Jeffrey Wilusz, professor and founding director of the program.

Network of Success

The master’s program attracts a diverse cohort of students each year, fostering a collaborative environment where students share experiences and learn from one another. The instructors will extend this classroom synergy online, while improving access for professionals and students across the United States.

Whether students are interested in exploring or advancing their scientific careers, or preparing for professional and graduate school, helping students reach their intended career is a driving goal of the Microbiology-Immunology Master’s Program. Instructors are eager to mentor and facilitate professional connections and opportunities to aid students with their futures.

“This program provides that networking opportunity with the hard science skills that they need,” says instructor Grace Borlee. “Science is a combination of the technical skills and soft skills, and that’s really what makes you a good scientist…. if you can’t communicate that [scientific] knowledge or don’t know the right context for a job, then you’re still in square one.”

CSU Online graduates join a network of alumni from the past nine years of the on-campus program, who have found success in a variety of roles across academic and industry fields, including biotechnology, public health, research, veterinary and human medicine.

Microbiology-Immunology master's students participate in class via Zoom during the pandemic.
Master’s students held class discussions via Zoom during the pandemic. (CVMBS photo)

Global Need for Scientists

The COVID-19 pandemic brought science to the forefront of society, and presented an emerging case for the microbiology-immunology master’s students to apply their studies to an infectious pathogen disrupting the world. Open science and global developments in disease surveillance, diagnostics, and vaccines by scientists, including at Colorado State University, enriched classroom learning and discussions.

Public health officials, biotech companies, medical professionals, and research scientists employed their expertise to lead society through the pandemic. Coronavirus impacted many people, and pandemic health inequities in the United States highlight the ongoing need for diversity in science. The fully online master’s program will increase student access to CSU’s world-class education in infectious disease and help students from diverse backgrounds gain valuable training they can use to impact their communities.

Living through a global pandemic has piqued interest in infectious diseases and biomedical sciences. People are motivated to join the next generation of leading scientists, as emerging, infectious diseases continue to threaten animal and human health in the 21st century.

With a global need for more and diverse scientists, the online Microbiology-Immunology Master’s Program at Colorado State University gives students the technical knowledge, professional skills, program support, and personal network to make a difference in their own lives with the degree, as well as the lives of others – human and animal.