Graduate Degree – Program of Study

A few years back, I decided to pursue a PhD for a number of reasons and also for a number of reasons, it didn’t work out. However, I have not given up on further graduate education. After reading Chris Guillebeau’s One Year Alternative Graduate Degree, I decided that I was interested in setting a course to learn what I would have in school with a Master’s degree.

As an individual who has experienced graduate school at a fairly good university, I know that I am missing the interactions of a trained scientific mind (advisor) and peers (other graduate students). But my intent for continuing my education was to learn the basics of a subject area I am highly interested in so that I could put this together with what I am learning on the job in this field to create my own business in the future.

The beauty of setting up your own graduate degree is that you can hone in on exactly what you are interested in without all of the red-tape, $$ and ego maneuvering necessary with an actual graduate school. Below you will see my plan of study and from that, take what you will.


Self-Master’s Degree in Microbial Ecology

Topics of interest – What do I want to learn?

  • Microbial ecology – variety of organisms, how to identify and culture, characteristics
  • Fermentation and growth kinetics
  • Food microbiology – growing things that are safe to ingest, safety procedures
  • Industrial microbiology – scaling, regulations
  • Microbial communities – how microbes interact with other organisms, niches

Courses – Breaking my interests into classes and adding others from similar university programs as well as adding credit weights to illustrate amount of work expected.

  • Microbial Ecology – 3 credits
  • Industrial Microbiology – 3 credits
  • Microbial Physiology – 3 credits
  • Food Microbiology – 3 credits
  • Microbial Regulations – 1 credit
  • Journal Club on a hot topic – 1 credit
  • Industrial Fermentation – 3 credits
  • Microbial Genetics – 3 credits
  • Microbial Biochemistry – 3 credits
  • Microbial Community Ecology – 3 credits
  • Aquatic/Marine Microbiology – 1 credit
  • Soil Microbiology – 1 credit
  • Lab component – 3 credits

Each course will take 8 weeks to complete. Components for the 3 credits courses will include reading 1 textbook, 10 primary journal articles and a MOOC or podcast if applicable. The end deliverable for each will be a 5-10 page paper on a topic of interest.

13 courses at 8 week will take roughly two years. I may shorten the 1 credit courses to 4 weeks depending on what I do with them.

Course 1 will be Microbial Ecology.

Textbook: Microbial Ecology – Barton 2011 – found online through husband’s school enrollment, Brock Biology of Microorganisms 2014 – purchased from Amazon for $26.

MOOC: MITx’s Environmental Microbiology

Journal Articles: TBD

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