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The major formerly known as bacteriology is now microbiology.

The undergraduate major and Timetable listing formerly known as bacteriology is now microbiology. The name change was approved by the campus Academic Planning Council late last month and announced in a Jan. 3 memo from the provost. This undergraduate program is housed in the CALS Department of Bacteriology, and the major is also awarded in the College of Letters and Science. The name change is to be implemented for the Fall 2007 semester or as soon thereafter as practical. The name of the department will not change, nor will the master’s program name for Bacteriology. (The Ph.D. program name was changed to Microbiology in a reorganization that took place about 10 years ago.)

The department believes that its curriculum is better represented by microbiology, which is a broader and more modern term.

Among the points the department made in proposing the new name for the major:

  • The curriculum covers microbiology, a much broader area than bacteriology.
  • Potential employers advertise for microbiologists, not bacteriologists.
  • Students don’t necessarily appreciate the connection between the bacteriology major and the field of biotechnology, while microbiology is often referred to as the basis for biotechnology.
  • Students may not realize that a bacteriology major includes aspects of microbiological and biological science.
  • Students may not recognize bacteriology as a part of modern biology. A search of web resources for high school teachers finds more historical documents with bacteriology as a key word and more modern resources with microbiology is used. They do recognize genetrics and biochemistry as modern sciences.
  • Students, parents and guidance counselors looking for undergraduate majors may not look for bacteriology. Web searches turn up many more programs named microbiology.

In sum, in addition to other initiatives developing in the department at the undergrad level, the name change will provide the department an opportunity to reach out and market the degree to an audience that is familiar with the breadth, excitement and marketability of the microbiological field.

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