Biological science programs, even at the doctoral level, do not prepare an individual to practice medicine but instead prepare a graduate to become a medical scientist. A master's degree in biomedical science trains students for research-based employment or for furthering their education. Doctoral degrees are lengthier graduate programs with a more concentrated focus on research in one of the multiple areas within biomedical science, such as microbiology or biochemistry.
Master's Degree in Biomedical Science
Although some schools offer master's degrees in biological medicine, programs are more commonly available by the title of biomedical science. The degree typically takes two years to complete, with a minimum of 30 required semester hours. Although most schools require the submission of a thesis to qualify for graduation, some schools have non-thesis degree options for those who do not plan to pursue doctoral degrees.
A bachelor's degree is typically required prior to admittance into a master's degree in a biomedical science program, along with specific science prerequisites that vary from school to school. Strong preference may be given to candidates who majored in biological science. Most schools also require potential students to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test results. Students working on their master's degree in biomedical science typically spend time both in the classroom and on laboratory research. Emphasis is placed on studying disease processes and human organs, particularly at the cellular level. Some course topics could include:
- Ethics in science
- Anatomy and physiology of cells
- Biometrical computing
- Molecular brain function
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Cellular Biology and Anatomical Sciences
- Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
- General Biology
- Microbiology and Immunology
- Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics
- Pharmacology and Toxicology
- Physiology and Related Sciences
Ph.D. in Biomedical Science
A Ph.D. in biomedical science offers students academic and research-based knowledge in biological medicine. Through laboratory studies, students explore existing theories and create new ones. The goal in biomedical research is typically to foster the expansion of current approaches to biological medicine, improve understanding of diseases and make advances in the medical field. A degree typically takes four years or about 60 semester hours to complete. A school could offer an interdisciplinary approach to its Ph.D. program, and a student could gain a broad base of experience working in various disciplines of biomedicine, including microbiology, pharmacology, biochemistry and molecular biology. A student is generally expected to choose an area of focus by their final year, as well as write a dissertation.
For admission into a Ph.D. program, completion of a master's degree might be necessary. An individual with a master's degree in a biological science can qualify with minimal additional prerequisite coursework. Some schools accept candidates with master's degrees in a non-science subject if the student completes biological science coursework to meet prerequisites. The educational framework for most Ph.D. in Biomedical Science degrees involves scholarly research, seminar sessions and intensive laboratory research. Research is often divided up by theme, with subjects such as the biology of cancer, bioengineering and genetics. In addition to research, students take courses in a variety of topics, such as:
- Developmental biology
- Biomedical computing
- Regulatory gene factors
- Cell molecular organization
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), career opportunities for medical scientists are on the rise (www.bls.gov). With a master's degree in biomedical science, students are prepared for entry-level positions working with medical scientists. Graduates are also qualified for positions in:
- Clinical investigation
- Technical writing
- Laboratory research
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
With a Ph.D. in biological medicine, graduates qualify for employment as medical scientists in a variety of fields, usually either in government research, private industry or the academic sector. The BLS projects that employment opportunities for medical scientists will grow by 8% from 2014-2024. In 2015, medical scientists made a median annual salary of $82,240.
Biological medicine programs are available at the graduate level and those obtain a degree in this field often pursue career paths that involve conducting clinical studies and drafting scientific reports.