Undergraduate Certificate Program in Medical Entomology


Program Description                                                                       APPLICATION FORM

This a 17 credit hour academic certificate program.  It is designed to provide a concentration of subject-matter focusing on arthropod vectors of disease pathogens, focusing on humans disease but also including livestock, wildlife and companion animals disease.  Course concentration includes subject areas of medical entomology, microbiology, entomology, and disease ecology.  This program will be administered by the Department of Biology in the College of Science.  This subject-matter concentration is designed to prepare students with competitive advantages for employment opportunities or graduate education where understanding outbreaks of vector-borne diseases are advantageous. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recognized there are long-term shortages of specialists and practitioners with knowledge and skills to respond to the complexities of vector-borne diseases critical to the needs for community, county, state and national responses.  Mosquito, tick, and other arthropod-borne diseases such as Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya, West Nile Virus, Chagas, and Lyme Disease are among many examples of vector-borne maladies with impacts on humans, companion animals, livestock and wildlife.  Global trade, climate change, and travel continue to pose additional risks for introductions of exotic vectors and vector-borne pathogens.  The concentration of course work offered through this academic certificate is intended to prepare undergraduate students to identify, predict, and manage outbreaks of vector-borne diseases as future professionals or graduate students. 

The Department of Labor Statistics estimates there will be continued growth of 5-11% employment through 2024 for discipline categories related to vector-borne diseases.  Employment opportunities in the public health sector include environmental health service agencies at municipal, county, and state levels, mosquito control districts, the CDC, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the World Health Organization, and the Pan American Health Organization.  Students completing this certificate will be able to identify the various interest groups and interact with the range of participants in solving issues associated with a vector-borne disease outbreak.

Acceptance into and Completing the Program

Students are eligible to apply to the certification program when they have 30 or more credit hours, and successfully completed (grade C or better) the two Introductory Biology classes at UTRGV (or have transferred in equivalent credit).  To apply, student will be required to fill out and submit the required application materials to the Department Chair of Biology. 

Supervising committee:  A supervising committee consisting of at least three faculty will oversee the acceptance and progress of students in the program.  In addition, these committee members will be responsible for organizing the presentations and papers required for the assessment activities (Certificate Assessment).  Committee membership will consist of the following faculty members:  the Chair of the Biology Department, the Chair of the Curriculum Committee, and the current director of the UTRGV Center for Vector-Borne Disease.  Faculty teaching relevant courses included in this certification may substitute for one or more of these committee members. Due to current high enrollment in and demand for many of these courses, the supervising committee may choose to limit enrollment into the certification program.

Application material:  Applications are encourage to apply after their freshman year, to begin the program at the start of their sophomore year, but applications will be accepted year round.  Application material will consist of an application form, a personal statement indicating why this program will benefit the student, and a copy of the students transcripts to verify grade requirements (if student is a transfer, transcript from originating school must be provided).

The required course Medical Entomology should be taken upon acceptance into the program as soon as it is offered, with courses in categories 1, 2, and 3 taken when offered and available.  The electives course should be taken their senior year.  To be accepted into the program, students must have a cumulative GPA no less than 2.75, and have received no less than a C in General Biology 1 and 2.  To receive the certification, students must obtain no less than a grade of a B in the courses taken for certification.  Students who fall below the 2.75 cumulative GPA minimum or received less than a B in one or more of the courses taken for certification may be removed from the program. 

Curriculum:  Undergraduate Certificate in Medical Entomology

17 credits required

Required course – BIOL 4319 - Medical Entomology

Category 1 courses (focus on diseases) – minimum 4 credits

Category 2 courses (focus on organisms) – minimum 4 credits

Category 3 courses (focus on ecology) – minimum of 3 credits

Optional Electives (must take 1)


Category 1 – Focus on diseases as it relates to vectors and health

Must take 1.  The expected outcome of this category is for students to gain a strong understand of pathogens, including pathogens that may be transmitted by vectors.

  • BIOL 3401 – General Microbiology
  • BIOL 3403 - Medical Microbiology and Immunology
  • BIOL 4404 - General Virology
  • BIOL 4428 - Medical Genomics


Category 2 – Focus on organisms as they relate to vector and health

Must take 1.  The expected outcome of this category is for students to build a broad understanding of arthropods and invertebrates, or other organisms that may transmit diseases, or of the organisms that may be transmitted.

  • BIOL 3414 - Invertebrate Zoology
  • BIOL 4407 - Animal Parasitology
  • BIOL 4415 - Entomology


Category 3 – Focus on ecology as it relates to vector and health

Must take 1.  The expected outcome of this category is for students to develop an understanding of the interconnected nature of disease, vectors, and hosts, and how this may influence the spread of disease and disease transmission.

  • BIOL 4424 - Microbial Ecology
  • BIOL 4388 - Global Change Ecology
  • BIOL 4317 - Disease Epidemiology

Electives (must take 1) – Expanded study in medical entomology and public health

Must take 1.  Students will gain hands on experience in vector research, surveillance, or control, and the role of public health in controlling outbreaks. 

  • BIOL 4399 – Undergraduate Research Course in Medical Entomology (must be approved by faculty research advisor in advance)
  • BIOL 4390 – Public Health Internship

Additional courses may be added to the electives as they are developed, pending approval from the curriculum committee.

Certificate Learning Outcomes:

Students should be able to

  1. Identify key arthropods of medical importance and describe arthropod life cycles and ecological associations that impact vector population maintenance and growth.
  2. Recognize and analyze components of arthropod biology and ecology that sustain pathogens in nature and that result in disease outbreaks.
  3. Recognize the linkages between arthropods, ecology, microbiology, and vector-borne disease outbreaks.
  4. Integrate and analyze concepts of arthropod and disease pathogen surveillance, outbreak detection, containment, management and response.
  5. Design and conduct research, surveillance, or control activities related to public health and medical entomology.