Immunology and Infectious Disease Major

Destroy disease, build a career.

The Immunology and Infectious Disease Major is a rigorous science-based major that provides a foundation to understand the immune system and how it combats pathogens and fights disease. Our graduates get right to work with careers in research and sales in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. Others pursue advanced degrees for future careers in medicine, research, and public health.

A small corner of the medical world that opens big doors everywhere.

Immunology and Infectious Disease starts with a strong foundation in math, biology, chemistry, and physics—the cornerstone sciences of any biomedical study. Then we take you on an intense, deep dive into the complex network of immune cells and how they respond to infection. We use all the tools science has to offer to understand the immune system—how it develops and functions, when and why it fails, the role of drugs and vaccines, and the epidemiology of infectious disease.

Our grads are uniquely poised to transition directly into the workforce as medical scientists (immunologists, biologists, and bacteriologists). Our focus on the immune system helps prepare students for the broader challenges of medical school, graduate school, and schools of public health.

IID is the right major if you’re:

  • Interested in med school, vet school, dental school, pharmacy school, or advanced degrees in other biomedical fields
  • Driven to make a difference researching the causes of future pandemics and allergies and how the immune system can fight infections and diseases like cancer
  • Someone who thrives in an encouraging, collaborative environment
This major can pave your way to medical school, veterinary school, or other biomedical sciences grad programs.

A premier academic experience.

Career-driven curriculum

Our students don’t just get into medical, veterinary, dental, pharmacy, or graduate school, they excel there. That’s because your course work mirrors the rigor and depth of health science-related training at the highest level.

Course examples

  • Principles of Immunology
  • The Immune System and Disease
  • Vaccine Principles and the History of Vaccines
  • Current Topics in Immunology
  • Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases
  • Viral and Bacterial Pathogenesis
  • Mechanisms of Disease

Ag Journeys

“I like my program because it focuses on humans.”

–Marissa Moran

A student utilized the library for research.

Get out of the classroom and into the fight.

Our faculty are the best in the business, and they’ll be the first to tell you that classroom learning should just be a starting point.

If you’re interested in studying immunology because you want to make a difference, you’ve come to the right place. Our faculty conduct important, cutting-edge research and they want to get you into the lab, learning firsthand. How do you get involved? Just ask. And regardless of your interest, there are student-led, faculty-guided clubs, internships, externships, and international opportunities to put your education in a real-world, professional context.

Craft your experience.

Related clubs and teams

  • Biomedical Sciences Club
  • One Health Club
  • Pre-Med Club
  • Pre-Vet Club
  • Vaccinate America Club
  • Ag Advocates
  • See all clubs and teams

Recent internships  

  • Biotech and pharmaceutical companies Regeneron and Merck
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Penn State Hershey Pediatric Oncology Translational Research Lab
  • National Environmental Public Health, supported by CDC
  • National Center for Toxicological Research through the FDA
  • Undergraduate research with Penn State Ag Sciences

Popular study abroad  

  • Anatomy and Art, Italy
  • Science (pre-med and research), Dublin, Ireland
  • Medical humanities, Oxford, London
  • Pre-med summer, Grenada
  • Anatomy in Italy: Cadavers, Culture, and Science!
  • Masaryk University: Research Abroad in Brno, Czech Republic
  • Organic Chemistry or Physics, Dublin, Ireland
Extra specializations deliver plentiful employment opportunities, such as research positions in biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies, or health agencies.
Concern over bioweapons and emerging infectious diseases means high demand for specialists.

A practical, workforce-ready degree—and a college experience you’ll love.

Penn State Immunology and Infectious Disease grads walk off the stage at graduation and into medical schools and stellar careers all over the world. You can harness the power of a truly unique education at one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

Our alumni out in the world

  • Careers in medicine after attending medical school
  • Ph.D. biomedical researchers
  • Master of public health (M.P.H.) working for local, state, and national public health agencies
  • Pharmacists
  • Veterinarians
  • Dentists
  • Researchers in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries
  • Sales and marketing in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries
  • Epidemiologists
  • Research scientists—immunologists, bacteriologists, virologists, etc.
  • Healthcare professionals—nurses, physician assistants, and other allied health fields
  • Biotech and biomedical patent law

Immunology and Infectious Disease Career Options

A Penn State Immunology and Infectious Disease degree paves the way to a career you want in medicine, health, and biomedical research. Program alumni are thriving in exciting roles across the world. Here are a few examples:

Biomedical researcher

An advanced degree—a Ph.D. in immunology or a related field—opens the door to a career as a biomedical scientist. Ph.D. researchers seek to understand how diseases cause damage and develop new treatments to cure diseases.

What will I do?

  • Design and carry out experiments to investigate the causes of diseases
  • Develop and test new therapies
  • Publish findings in medical and scientific journals
  • Train new scientists

Medical doctor

After medical school, a doctor is someone who maintains or restores human health through the practice of medicine.

What will I do?

  • Diagnose and treat patients suffering from different diseases or injuries in a hospital or in private practice
  • Constantly update your medical knowledge though continuing education
  • Perform clinical research in an academic setting to develop new treatments and test new drugs

Public Health Officer

After obtaining a master of public health (M.P.H.), public health officials work at the local, state, and national levels to direct health policy, investigate disease outbreaks, and seek solutions to improve public health.

What will I do?

  • Track the origins of an infectious disease outbreak
  • Educate communities on new public health measures such as increasing vaccine awareness
  • Work in government to develop public health policies

Positions in Biotech and the Pharmaceutical Industry

Graduates with a B.S. in Immunology and Infectious Disease can work in research and sales positions in biotech and the pharmaceutical industries.

What will I do?

  • Use research skills to work as a research technician designing and performing experiments
  • Design new packaging and safety inserts for new drugs
  • Work in sales, using your knowledge of immunology to sell new drugs to doctors