Biochemistry Master's Degree Program Overviews

Students of Master of Science (M.S.) in Biochemistry degree programs examine the structures, functions and biological processes of various molecules in intricate biological systems. Thesis and non-thesis options are available, depending on a student's interest level in research.

Essential Information

M.S. in Biochemistry programs usually take one to two years to finish. The curriculum consists of courses, laboratory rotations and thesis research, though non-thesis options are also available. Some schools integrate molecular biology or molecular genetics into their M.S. in Biochemistry degree programs.

Applicants to M.S. in Biochemistry programs must first have completed a bachelor's degree program featuring extensive chemistry and biology training. Submission of a personal statement and letters of recommendation are often also required. Certain schools also require students to pass placement examinations and a writing proficiency exam as part of the process of advancement to candidacy for a master's degree.

Master of Science in Biochemistry

In an M.S. in Biochemistry program, students can choose from a wide range of research topics, including the biochemical basis of human diseases, protein structure and conformation, non-invasive diagnostics, biochemical pathway regulation and drug development. Graduates are able to utilize this knowledge and apply it to a multitude of laboratory applications.

An M.S. in Biochemistry requires the completion of 30-32 credit hours. The coursework is highly interdisciplinary, and students work with and receive instruction from faculty in the chemistry, biology, pharmacology, physiology and microbiology departments, among others. Subjects covered in the program include the molecular structure and function of various enzymes and an in-depth study of essential biochemical processes. Courses include:

  • General, cell fate and disease biochemistry
  • The structure and function of proteins
  • Nucleic acid and protein interactions
  • Enzymology
  • Biopolymer structure and organic chemistry
  • Molecular and somatic cell genetics

Popular Career Options

A bachelor's degree in biochemistry is necessary for entry-level technical jobs, while a doctorate is needed for advanced scientific research positions. A master's degree in biochemistry is intended for someone with an undergraduate degree who is looking to advance in a career, strengthen a biochemical background or prepare for a doctoral program. Graduates can find work as teachers or researchers for both public and private companies that specialize in chemical or biological science. Here are some career titles:

  • Research technician
  • Clinical laboratory technologist
  • Biology teacher (high school or community college)
  • Clinical research coordinator and associate

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth of 8% for biochemists and biophysicists from 2014 to 2024. As of May 2015, the median annual salary for these scientists was $82,150. High school teachers could expect job growth of 6% during this decade, the BLS reported, and they earned a median annual salary of $57,200 as of 2015. Postsecondary teachers in general could expect job growth of 13% from 2014 to 2024, and postsecondary biological sciences teachers earned a median annual salary of $75,320 as of 2015.

Continuing Education

The M.S. in Biochemistry degree program is designed to transition into a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program. In fact, select schools only accept students for the master's degree program if they intend to continue into the Ph.D. program. This doctoral degree program consists of approximately 60 hours following the master's degree and is focused on the research, presentation and defense of a doctoral dissertation project. Receiving the Ph.D. in Biochemistry allows the graduate to conduct independent research as a biochemist or biological scientist.

M.S. in Biochemistry programs are 1- to 2-year programs that give students the opportunity to choose from thesis and non-thesis program options. An M.S. in Biochemistry can give students the scientific knowledge and research skills they need for acceptance into Ph.D. in Biochemistry programs or to pursue careers in research or education.

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