Infectious Disease Minor

Infectious diseases represent an increasing threat to public health, agricultural productivity, and global biodiversity.

Recent years have seen an unprecedented rise in the incidence and severity of infectious diseases in human, plant, and animal populations across nearly all of the world’s ecosystems. This intensification of diseases around the world is linked to human activity, which has brought about habitat transformation, climate change, biological invasions, environmental contamination, and ensuing losses of biodiversity.

Global disease dynamics have long-lasting economic, social, and global health impacts. It is more important than ever for students pursuing careers in biomedical, veterinary, medical, public health, natural resources and agricultural fields to appreciate the biology of the host-microbe and environmental interactions that give rise to infectious disease. Famous historical examples of significant impacts of infectious diseases include the "black death" (bubonic plague), the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, and the Irish potato famine. More recently, infectious diseases have resulted in amphibian declines, decimation of bats from white nose disease of bats, and forest declines, plus the emergence of Ebola virus disease, SARS, MERS, and West Nile virus in birds and humans, and the chronic challenge of food-borne illnesses.

The Infectious Disease Biology Minor provides students with a broad perspective on health and disease, the dynamic nature of host-associated microbes, an in-depth understanding of the origins and dynamics of infectious diseases, and contemporary thought about the nature of health, disease, and disease management.

To satisfy the requirements of the Infectious Disease Biology Minor, students must successfully complete one foundation course listed below (3 credits) plus a minimum of 12 additional credits at the 2000-level and higher, with at least one course selected from each of the lists (A, B, and C) below, for a minimum requirement of 15 credits. Credit for courses other than those listed below require the approval of the minor advisor. Special topic courses, independent study, seminar courses, and courses without regular instruction cannot be counted toward the credit requirement without prior written approval of the minor advisor.

All courses must be taken for a letter grade and students must receive a grade of “C” or better for the course to count toward the minor. Any undergraduate student at Cornell may enroll in the minor. However, this minor may especially complement academic programs of students majoring in Animal Sciences, Biological Sciences, Biology & Society, Environmental Science and Sustainability, Human Biology, Health and Society, Natural Resources, or Plant Sciences.

How to Apply

  1. Submit a copy of the application form. If you have questions, contact minor advisor th572 [at] (subject: Infectious%20disease%20biology%20minor%20question) (Tory Hendry).
  2. Complete the courses required for the infectious disease minor.
  3. In your second-to-last semester, prior to pre-enrollment, email the minor advisor with a list of the courses that you have taken or plan to take to complete the minor. You will receive an email confirmation of your plan from the minor advisor.
  4. Email th572 [at] (Tory Hendry) with any questions or issues that arise while completing the minor.
  5. A final grade audit will be completed a few weeks after graduation, and the minor will be added to your academic record at that time.


All students in the Infectious Disease Biology minor will be required to take the following foundation course.

Required Foundation Course (3 cr)

  • BIOMI 2950: Biology of Infectious Disease: From Molecules to Ecosystems - 3 Credits, Spring

In addition, students are required to take a minimum of 12 additional credits with at least one course selected from each of three groups below.

Elective Courses (12 cr)

Group A: Infectious Agents

  • BIOMI 2900: General Microbiology Lectures - 3-4 Credits, Fall, Spring
  • BIOMI/BIOMS 3310: General Parasitology (NO credit if previously enrolled in BIOMS 4310) - 2 Credits, Spring
  • BIOMI/BIOMS 4040: Pathogenic Bacteriology - 2-3 Credits, Spring
  • BOMI/BIOMS 4090: Principles of Virology - 3 Credits, Fall
  • BIOMI/BIOMS 4310: Medical Parasitology (NO credit previously enrolled in BIOMS 3310) - 2 Credits, Fall
  • PLPPM/BIOMS 3290: Medical and Veterinary Mycology - 3 Credits, Not Currently Offered
  • PLPPM 4380: Fungal Genetics and Genomics - 3 Credits, Spring
  • PLPPM 4300: Mycology - 3 Credits, Fall

Group B: Host-Pathogen Interactions

  • ANSC 3700: Immunology in Animal Health and Disease (NO Credit if previously enrolled in BIOMS 3150) - 3 Credits, Spring
  • BIOEE 4800/ENTOM 4700: Ecological Genetics of Infection and Disease - 4 Credits, Spring*
  • BIOMI 2600: Microbiology of Human Contagious Diseases - 3 Credits, Fall, Spring
  • BIOMI 3500: Marine Microbes and Disease in a Changing Ocean - 3 credits, Fall
  • BIOMS 4150: Basic Immunology (NO credit if previously or concurrently enrolled in ANSC 3700) - 3 Credits, Fall
  • BIOMS 4340: Cellular and Molecular Microbial Pathogenesis: The Host/Pathogen Interplay - 3 Credits, Spring*
  • ENTOM 3630: Bugs in Bugs: The world of Pathogens and Parasites - 3 Credits, Spring
  • PLPPM 4010: Microbial Pathogens vs Plants: Molecular Weapons, Defenses, and Rules of Engagement - 3 Credits, Spring
  • PLPPM 4020 Ecology and evolution of Plant-Pathogen Interactions - 3 Credits, Spring*
  • PLSCI/BIOEE/BIONB 4460: Plant Behavior and Biotic Interactions - 3 Credits, Spring

GROUP C: Disease and Health Management

  • ANTHR 4041, BSOC/FGSS/STS 4841: "What is (an) Epidemic?" Infectious diseases in Historical, Social, and Political Perspectives) - 4 Credits, Fall
  • BIOMI 2500: Public Health Microbiology *NOT offered in 2021-2022* - 3 Credits, Fall
  • BIOMI 3210: Human Microbes and Health - 3 Credits, Fall
  • ENTOM/BSOC 2101: Plagues and People - 2-3 Credits, Fall*
  • ENTOM 3520: Medical and Veterinary Entomology - 3 Credits, Fall
  • ENTOM/EEB 4940: Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases - 4 credits, Spring
  • ENTOM 4520: Introduction to Disease Vectors - 4 Credits, Fall
  • ENTOM 6520: Malaria Biology and Control - 2 Credits, Spring
  • NS 2600: Introduction to Global Health - 3 Credits, Spring
  • NTRES 4150: Conservation with Communities for One Health - 2 Credits, Fall
  • PLPPM 3010: Biology and Management of Plant Diseases - 4 Credits, Fall

*Offered alternate years

    Learning Outcomes

    After completing the requirements of this concentration, student will be able to:

    1. Describe and predict the impacts of infectious diseases on human, plant, animal, and global health
    2. Describe the basic form, function, behavior, and diversity of infectious agents and their vectors
    3. Assess the similarities and differences among human, animal, and plant diseases
    4. Understand how hosts defend themselves against infectious agents
    5. Apply the fundamental principles underlying disease dynamics at multiple spatial and temporal scales to predict how new diseases emerge.
    6. Critically evaluate surveillance and management strategies for the prevention of infectious diseases.
    7. Apply sound reasoning skills to identify the etiologies and regulators of disease processes
    8. Speak the language of disease biology and communicate disease biology principles to others.