METX M.S. Program Requirements

The Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology Department offers a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in microbiology and environmental toxicology (METX). The METX M.S. degree can be attained through Plan I thesis (coursework and thesis, minimum 40 credits) or Plan II (coursework and capstone project, minimum 40 credits). In addition, METX offers a fifth-year Plan I (thesis) M.S. degree path when earned contiguous with an appropriate Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree at UCSC. The METX M.S. degree combines core courses and electives to provide interdisciplinary training in microbiology, toxicology, and environmental health sciences.  Graduates from the program are exceptionally prepared to take research or management positions in organizations concerned with microbial and environmental health-related sciences. Graduates may also pursue fields in education or enter doctoral programs in biological and environmental health sciences or related fields.

The requirements for the METX M.S. degree are described below.

Plan I (Coursework, Research, and Thesis)


Core courses (2):

  • METX 200, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Environmental Toxicology

  • METX 205, Scientific Skills, Ethics, and Writing

Two courses from the following (2):

  • METX 201, Sources and Fates of Pollutants

  • METX 202, Cell and Molecular Toxicology

  • METX 206A, Advanced Microbiology

  • METX 210, Molecular and Cellular Basis of Bacterial Pathogenesis

  • METX 238, Pathogenesis
  • METX 250, Environmental Microbiology

  • METX 270, Drug Action and Development

At least one additional approved graduate-level METX course or from another department.

Any additional courses as recommended by your first year Advising Committee.

Each quarter, students must enroll in the following: Introductory Graduate Seminar (METX 292), an Independent Study (METX 297 or 299), and a topical seminar (METX 281).

Literature Review

Students write a literature review of the current state of the field of the proposed dissertation research, under direction of the student’s advisor. This written review will be submitted to the student’s advisor no later than the first day of fall quarter of the student's second year.

Departmental Seminars

Students present a 20 minute departmental seminar each academic year. Upon completion of the Masters thesis, students present the thesis research during a full-length departmental seminar.

Master's Reading Committee

The student should form a Master's Reading Committee during their first year by completing and submitting a Master's Reading Committee Nomination Form. The Master's Reading Committee consists of at least three faculty members, of which two must be from the METX faculty, including the student's advisor. The third member may be from the department or outside the department/university. The student will meet with their Master's Reading Committee at least annually throughout their tenure in the program to discuss with the committee the student's thesis plan, progress and intention to graduate. The last meeting should be approximately one quarter before the student intends to graduate.

Master's Comprehensive Exam

The Masters Comprehensive Exam is a presentation and defense of the student's Masters research proposal, including relevant background knowledge, and preliminary data, if any. The exam will not be specifically course based, but will draw on knowledge from courses.

  • Current students, please see the Faculty Graduate Representative for a detailed description of the proposal and timing of submission.
  • The written proposal should not exceed 3 text pages, excluding references, plus one page of figures.
  • Students should schedule this exam before the end of fall quarter of their second year.
  • The exam will be given by the student’s Masters Reading Committee, established by the student at least one quarter before the exam.
  • Students should submit the written proposal to their Masters Reading Committee at least 2 weeks before the exam.
  • There is a standard Rubric used for evaluating the student's performance. It includes expectations based on departmental Program Learning Outcomes as well as an opportunity for the committee to comment on the student's performance and give recommendations. This evaluation becomes part of the student's file. Rubrics can be found at the end of the hadnbook and in the METX Google Drive.

 The Master's Comprehensive exam oral defense

After submitting your written proposals, you will be orally examined by the examination committee. These exams are given as chalk talks, PowerPoint is not allowed. You should plan how you will lay out your experiments on the board, to give an organized presentation. Be prepared to present your proposed studies; discuss the rationale behind your experimental choices; discuss possible data outcomes, interpretations and alternatives; provide follow up experiments to each outcomes; discuss the significance of your research question. 

Master's Thesis

Students are required to submit a thesis for fulfillment of the degree requirements. The format and contents of the thesis will be agreed upon by the student and the Masters Reading Committee. The thesis should be submitted to the Master's Reading Committee by the second week of the final quarter of work, generally spring of the second year.

Plan II (Coursework and Capstone)


Core courses (1):

  • METX 200, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Environmental Toxicology

Two courses from the following (2):

  • METX 201, Sources and Fates of Pollutants

  • METX 202, Cell and Molecular Toxicology

  • METX 206A, Advanced Microbiology

  • METX 210, Molecular and Cellular Basis of Bacterial Pathogenesis

At least one integrative graduate course from the following (1):

  • METX 238, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease

  • BIOL 217, Influence of Environment and Experience on Brain Development

At least one additional 200-level course within METX or another department (1).
If outside the METX department, pre-approval must be obtained by the METX graduate advisor and the instructor of the course.

At least one additional 100 or 200-level course within METX or another department (1). 
If outside the METX department, pre-approval must be obtained by the METX graduate advisor and the instructor of the course.

Winter and Spring quarter Capstone courses (2)

Departmental Seminars

Attendance at Departmental seminar series: Attendance at weekly seminar speakers is required to obtain exposure to the breadth and depth of microbiology and environmental health science and careers. Each quarter, 0 credits.

Capstone Written Proposal

The Plan II MS capstone will be achieved by taking the two required capstone preparation graduate courses in winter and spring quarter, and completing a science or policy-based proposal or review-type article to pursue a problem selected by the student in consultation with the graduate advisor and assigned METX capstone advising faculty member. Instruction on science writing, geared towards a range of possible audiences, will be provided in the capstone courses. The proposal will be read for approval by the two METX faculty assigned as capstone advisors for each student.


Catalog Rights

Students matriculating in a given graduate program, including those in Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology, will select the UCSC General Catalog they will follow to meet their requirements to be either the one published the year they enter the program, or any subsequent catalog published prior to the year they are awarded the degree sought. Students who seek readmission after a break in attendance of greater than two years (six regular quarters) must adhere to the graduation requirements in effect at the time of readmission or to those subsequently established for all portions of the degree requirements not already fulfilled. The readmitting program will determine which degree requirements remain to be fulfilled, and will communicate this information in the letter offering readmission. This determination constitutes a formal requirement for readmission to the program, and the student’s acceptance of readmission implies acceptance of the program’s written stipulation of remaining degree requirements. Should any student choose to follow catalog requirements for a year in which the catalog is not printed in hard copy, the requirements will include any online catalog update for that year. A student must follow the chosen catalog in its entirety, including both the individual degree program and general university requirements. General university requirements may be found in the Graduate Student Handbook.

Please be aware that students applying to the M.S. Program are expected to be self funded.