MSHS in Clinical Microbiology

A lab technician's glove hand holding a petri dish

Become a Clinical Microbiologist

The George Washington University online Master of Science in Health Sciences in Clinical Microbiology delivers the theoretical knowledge and critical skills needed to be a clinical microbiologist. Clinical microbiologists facilitate the identification of human infectious diseases. This flexible online program combines medical microbiology and laboratory science coursework with a hands-on microbiology practicum (completed in your geographic location). In addition to gaining the skills needed to diagnose infectious diseases, you will develop the knowledge and practical skills to conduct research that helps prevent the spread of infections to create healthier communities.

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Total Credits



24 months

Average Duration

Accreditation and Rankings

  • GWU is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • #62 Best National University*
  • #15 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs*
  • #8 Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans*

* The U.S. News & World Report – 2023 Rankings

A microscope

Program Highlights

  • 100% online coursework; complete your degree in 24 months
  • Prepare to sit for the ASCP Technologist in Microbiology exam***
  • Applicants with clinical laboratory experience may be eligible to waive individual clinical practicum requirements
  • One of a few graduate degrees in the country that provides medical microbiology and laboratory science coursework with a hands-on general microbiology practicum


The online Master of Science in Health Sciences (MSHS) in Clinical Microbiology is a 36-credit-hour program that provides students with medical microbiology and laboratory science coursework as well as a hands-on general microbiology practicum. Students will also explore related fields of study, including clinical pathology, bacteriology, infectious diseases, and virology.

Six credit hours of elective courses are selected in consultation with the program director from existing online graduate courses in Biomedical Laboratory or Health Sciences.


Program Outcomes

The online Master’s in Clinical Microbiology program leverages distinguished faculty, innovative curriculum, and real-world experience. Upon completion, you’ll gain the comprehensive skills needed to succeed in the medical microbiology field and be able to:

  • Interpret patient laboratory results to aid in the diagnosis of infectious disease.
  • Assess laboratory methods used to identify infectious agents in the clinical microbiology lab.
  • Analyze general and specific mechanisms by which an infectious agent causes disease.
  • Assess strategies to treat infectious diseases, including the appropriate use of antimicrobial agents and common mechanisms of antimicrobial action and resistance.
  • Adhere to all local, state and federal laboratory regulations to maintain a safe and ethical work environment

Who Is the Ideal Student for This Program?

The MSHS in Clinical Microbiology program is designed for individuals who have a baccalaureate degree and want to obtain employment in clinical or public health microbiology laboratories. Many diagnostic laboratories require employees to be certified and this program will provide the theoretical knowledge, laboratory skill, and ability to sit for a national board of certification examination in microbiology. The ideal candidate for this program is someone that enjoys science and hands-on laboratory work, is detail-oriented, able to multi-task, and someone that likes to solve puzzles.

What Can You Do After Graduation?

The program curriculum provides eligibility for the ASCP Technologist in Microbiology exam, a gold standard in global certification for medical laboratory professionals. This will provide you with the skills needed to compete for the medical microbiology career you want.

Career Outlook

There is a growing need for professionals in medical microbiology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of available health care jobs will increase through 2030, creating more than two million new positions for medical professionals.1 With this projected growth, now is the perfect time for students to build careers in medical microbiology, clinical pathology, bacteriology, virology, and infectious diseases with the MSHS in Clinical Microbiology program at GW.

Graduates of this program will have the qualifying skills needed for employment in a variety of general microbiology settings, including diagnostic microbiology laboratories, research institutions, public health laboratories, biotechnology firms, pharmaceutical companies, or governmental agencies. Careers in clinical microbiology include:

  • Microbiology technologist
  • Public health microbiologist
  • Microbiology laboratory supervisor
  • Research Assistant/Associate
  • MLT/MLS instructor

New York residents – We advise applicants considering New York state licensure to review license requirements before accepting admission to the program.

State Licensure

Completion of this program will make graduates eligible to register for an ASCP Board of Certification Exam.  However, this does not automatically guarantee a graduate will also meet their state’s licensure requirements (if applicable). States may have specific licensure requirements and each student is encouraged to contact their state’s regulating agency to review these requirements prior to beginning any degree program. State’s requiring licensure may require an extended duration of practicum experiences, additional academic courses (outside the student’s program of study), etc. These additional requirements may require you to take a course or courses outside of GW. In particular, New York and California typically have additional requirements for state licensure. Please also be aware that the state of NY does not provide licensure to individuals that are certified in one subject, hence, this program will not provide eligibility to obtain a NY state license. Students who live in New York or California or plan to relocate to New York or California are recommended to research the NY and CA licensure requirements.

Admission Requirements

To apply for the MSHS in Clinical Microbiology, you’ll need:

Completed application
3.0 GPA or above on a 4.0 scale

A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and the required coursework as follows:

3 credits College Algebra, 3 credits English, 30 credits Biology, Chemistry or Medical Sciences. The 30 science credits must include the following: 4 credits General or Inorganic Chemistry 1 (including a “hands-on” lab), 4 credits General or Inorganic Chemistry 2 (Including lab), 4 credits General Biology 1 (including a “hands-on” lab), 4 credits General Biology 2 (including a “hands-on” lab), 4 credits Microbiology (including a “hands-on” lab).

*Please be prepared to provide unofficial transcripts to determine program admissibility

Personal statement: Applicants must include a 250–500 word essay describing your reasons for studying at GW, your academic objectives, career goals, and related qualifications, including collegiate, professional, and community activities relevant to your program of interest. Include any substantial accomplishments not already mentioned on the application form.
Two letters of recommendation


Tuition Details

The MSHS in Clinical Microbiology program at GW consists of 36 credit hours. Please find the cost per credit hour and total estimated program costs here

Note: Tuition rates are subject to change and additional fees may vary by program. 


Meet the Program Director

Marcia Firmani


GW’s experienced faculty provide you with the rich, practical knowledge and support needed for you to succeed in the program and in your career.

Marcia Firmani, PhD, MSPH, MT(ASCP)MBCM

Read Full Bio

Dr. Marcia Firmani has more than 20 years of experience in teaching and research. In addition to her administrative duties, Dr. Firmani both directs and teaches several courses within the BLS department, including Clinical Bacteriology, Molecular Diagnostic Sciences, Molecular Epidemiology, and Plagues, Pandemics & Epidemics. She also mentors undergraduate and graduate research projects and has published peer-reviewed articles with students.

Prior to her arrival at The George Washington University, Dr. Firmani was a principal investigator at the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC), where she conducted and managed several research projects involving biothreat agent characterization. Dr. Firmani also held two previous faculty appointments.

From 2002–2007, she was an assistant professor in the CLS department at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) in New Orleans. She taught lecture and laboratory courses and directed a research lab where she performed basic and applied research on Mycobacterium tuberculosis and MRSA and mentored master’s student thesis projects.

From 2007–2010, Dr. Firmani was an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM) where she taught various undergraduate CLS courses and graduate-level Biomedical Sciences courses. She also directed a research laboratory where she conducted NIH-funded research on Mycobacterium tuberculosis and mentored both undergraduate and graduate student research projects.

Dr. Firmani has taught numerous continuing education courses in the laboratory science field, including a DVD for the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) on emerging infections. She has authored several chapters focusing on infectious diseases in textbooks and has also published her research in peer-reviewed journals, such as Infection and Immunity, and the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Sources and Disclaimers:

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021 September 8). Healthcare Occupations. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved February 16, 2022

** National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS), 5600 N River Road, Suite 720, Rosemont, IL 60018-5119.

***While the completion of this program will make graduates eligible to register for an ASCP Board of Certification Exam, this does not automatically guarantee a graduate will also meet their states requirements for state licensure (if applicable). Since each state may have different requirements for licensure, each student is encouraged to contact their states regulating agency and review these requirements prior to beginning any degree program.

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