What is Parasitology? Top Courses and Careers

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It’s estimated that at least half of all known species are parasitic, so it is crucial to understand the life cycle and interaction of these organisms with their hosts to understand the dynamics of ecosystems generally. Parasitology is a branch of medicine and biology in which students study parasites and parasitic diseases and their interaction with their hosts. Pursuing a career as a parasitologist can be exciting and challenging at the same time and is suited for students with an inquisitive mind and interest in research. This blog explains what is parasitology along with top courses and careers you can pursue!

What is Parasitology?

Parasitology is the study of parasites and the effect they have on the host bodies. Parasites are organisms that live in or on a host organism and derive nutrients at the expense of its hosts, influencing them in different ways like causing their death or causing diseases by comprising the immune system. Parasitology involves the study of growth, life cycles, reproduction, infestation, biology and genetics, structure, development and general characteristics of parasites to understand their relationship to human, plant and animal life. Parasitology is responsible for looking for ways to treat and prevent diseases caused by parasites like viruses, bacteria, worms or insects. It is a field of study and parasitologists can work in medicine, agriculture, wildlife, pharmaceutical companies or take up an academic career.

Also Read: Environmental Conservation

Courses in Parasitology 

Parasitology examines the ongoing and changing relationship between host and parasite and individuals can work in a variety of different fields. In order to pursue parasitology as a career, students would have to attend a medical college. You would have to follow the career path given below:

Schooling

First, complete your 10+2 or equivalent. In order to take up parasitology as a field of study, you would have to choose the science stream compulsorily. Studying and getting high grades in Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology will prove helpful to take admission in a medical college. 

Bachelor Courses

BSc is a 3-4 year degree program and requires students to give a medical entrance examination like NEET(India)/MCAT, depending on where they live. Students are advised to have strong coursework in maths and statistics as well as science. As bachelor courses offered solely in parasitology are very few, students can pursue a bachelor’s degree in-

  • Biology  
  • Chemistry 
  • Microbiology
  • Pathology
  • Immunology 
  • Or any related field in biology

Masters Courses

MSc in Parasitology is a research-intensive 1-2 year program that provides students the opportunity to gain experience to work in laboratories. Students wanting to work primarily in research and lab work should choose to pursue a master’s degree specialising in parasitology. As the bachelor course helps to build a foundation in biology, it is better for your career to  specialise in parasitology topics like:

  • Cellular biology
  • Entomology
  • Zoonotic diseases
  • Parasitic diseases
  • Agricultural studies
  • Botany
  • Dynamic ecosystems

Doctorate Courses

To advance to better positions, lead research projects or teach in universities and colleges as a professor, parasitologists should pursue a doctorate degree as a professional with a PhD is given preference. You can choose to either focus on 

  • Medical parasitology
  • Agricultural parasitology
  • Wildlife parasitology
  • Or build an academic career as a professor

Top Universities to Pursue Parasitology

Universities offer various bachelor, master and doctorate courses in Parasitology or other related health and biology fields that help you pursue your career as a parasitologist. Here is a list of those top 20 ranked universities around the world according to the subject Life Sciences and Medicine:

University Location
Harvard University Cambridge, United States
University of Oxford Oxford, United Kingdom
Stanford University Stanford, United States
University of Cambridge Cambridge, United Kingdom
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, United States
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Cambridge, United States
University of California, San Francisco San Francisco, United States
Karolinska Institutet Stockholm, Sweden
The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Los Angeles, United States
UCL London, United Kingdom
Yale University New Haven, United States
Imperial College London London, United Kingdom
University of Toronto Toronto, Canada
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, United States
University of Washington Seattle, United States
Columbia University New York City, United States
Duke University Durham, United States
The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) San Diego, United States
University of Copenhagen Copenhagen, Denmark

Scope and Career Prospects

Parasitologists work in medical fields like epidemiology, immunology and microbiology,  food, agriculture or academic fields and can be employed in pharmaceutical companies, research facilities, environmental firms, clinical laboratories, universities, public health departments and government institutions. Depending upon their choice of specialisation and level of study, parasitologists can be employed in the following sectors:

Also Read: How To Become an Environmentalist?

Medical Parasitology

Medical Parasitology is a sub-field of Parasitology that involves epidemiology, chemotherapy, immunology, and many other interrelated medical fields. As parasites are best known to create epidemics, this field is also closely related to public health.

Agricultural Parasitology

This type of parasitology is focused on studying parasites in plants and animals. To understand such parasites, research is undertaken by following their food resources in plants and animals while they spread diseases. 

Wildlife Parasitiology

This sub-field of parasitology deals with understanding the natural environment and bio habitat of the animal and how each animal can be vulnerable to various parasites. Those specifically in-charge of monitoring parasites in endangered species in the wildlife are known as conversation biologists. 

Other job aspects of Parasitology includes:

  • Medical Parasitologists
  • Agricultural Parasitologists
  • Veterinary Parasitologists
  • Ecological and Systematic Parasitology
  • Parasitologist Professor
  • Immunoparasitology
  • Wildlife and Fisheries Parasitology
  • Aquaculture Parasitology
  • Biochemist or molecular Biologist
  • Microbiologists

If you are interested in Parasitology and is planning to pursue a degree from a foreign university then our experts at Leverage Edu can assist you in finding your dream university. Call us anytime at 1800 572 000 for a free consultancy!

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