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PhD Programs in Biotechnology: Degree Program and Course Information

Aspiring biological scientists can pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biotechnology. These programs draw on theoretical and practical knowledge from various disciplines, such as environmental science, microbiology, immunology, and biochemistry.

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Essential Information

A Ph.D. in Biotechnology usually takes 3-5 years or more to complete. Biotechnology students investigate biological organisms along with associated sub-cellular components, including membranes, cyto-skeletons, and organelles. A program may ask students to choose a concentration, such as structural biology or bioprocess engineering, in order to focus their research. Degree candidates must pass a qualifying, comprehensive exam, write a dissertation comprised of original research, and defend their conclusions before a committee of professors.

Depending on the institution, applicants must have either a bachelor's or master's degree in a science-related discipline and GRE scores. A background in calculus, chemistry, or physics can strengthen an application.


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  • Biotechnology Lab Technician
  • Science Technologies

Doctor of Philosophy in Biotechnology

Student researchers develop usable, safe technologies that meet industrial, governmental, and societal needs through the examination and modification of biological molecules.Students may explore discoveries in molecular biology and learn how to apply them to various areas, such as animal and human health, the environment, and agriculture. Many courses are given in a seminar-style format. Actual courses may include:

  • Protein purification methods
  • Integrative bioscience
  • Protein engineering
  • Bioseparation
  • Ecological bioscience
  • Bioinformatics

Employment and Salary Information

Graduates are prepared for diverse careers in biotechnological research and development with testing laboratories, government agencies, pharmaceutical companies, medicine manufacturers, and educational institutions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), biotechnological research is the force driving job growth for biological scientists. The BLS projected employment of biochemists and biophysicists would increase by 8% from 2014-2024, as fast as the average for all occupations. Medical scientists can also expect job growth of 8% during that decade. As of May 2015, according to the BLS, biochemists and biophysicists earned a median annual salary of $82,150, and medical scientists earned a median of $82,240.

Students in a doctoral biotechnology program will study and learn to modify biological molecules to solve various environmental and health related problems. These programs focus on independent research and typically require an undergraduate or graduate degree in the sciences for admission. Graduates can expect positive job growth as biochemists, biophysicists, or medical scientists.

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