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Top University in San Diego for a Biotechnology Degree

Students interested in studying biotechnology in San Diego have many schools to choose from. Read about the top local schools' degree programs, tuition and ranking info to find the right one for you.

School and Ranking Information

San Diego, California, has a large and still-growing biotechnology industry, and students in the area have several choices for learning about this field. Students can complete certificate or associate's degree programs in biotechnology at four community colleges right in San Diego, and there are several universities in the San Diego area with more comprehensive biotechnology programs and notable research facilities. Based off of program offerings and school rankings, the top three schools in the San Diego area for biotechnology degrees are:

  • Winner: The University of California - San Diego's earns the top spot due to its #3 ranked bioengineering graduate programs. This school also had the highest graduation rate among the three top schools.
  • Runner-Up #1: California State University - San Marcos is located about 36 miles from San Diego and has a prestigious professional biotechnology master's program.
  • Runner-Up #2: San Diego State University offers a wide range of biotechnology-oriented programs and is located right in the city of San Diego. The school offers a certificate program as well as undergraduate and graduate programs.

School Comparison Chart

Category University of California - San Diego California State University - San Marcos San Diego State University
Rankings 3rd for Biomedical and Bioengineering, graduate schools nationwide*
8th for Top Public Schools, nationwide*
15th for Biological Sciences, graduate schools nationwide*
38th for Top National Universities*
34th for Top Regional Public Schools in the West*
81st for Top Regional Universities in the West*
92nd for Biological Sciences, graduate schools nationwide*
90th for Top Public Schools, nationwide*
165th for National Universities*
Location La Jolla, CA (15 miles from San Diego) San Marcos, CA (36 miles from San Diego) San Diego, CA
School Type 4-year, public 4-year, public 4-year, public
Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $13,217 (undergraduate, in-state), $36,095 (undergraduate, out-of-state); $12,734 (graduate, in-state), $27,836 (graduate, out-of-state)** $6,452 (undergraduate, in-state), $18,110 (undergraduate, out-of-state); $8,133 (graduate, in-state), $17,679 (graduate, out-of-state)** $6,578 (undergraduate, in-state), $18,236 (undergraduate, out-of-state); $7,804 (graduate, in-state), $17,390 (graduate, out-of-state)**
Biotechnology and Related Program Levels Offered Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees Bachelor's and master's degrees Certificate; bachelor's and master's degrees
Biotechnology and Related Degrees Awarded (All Levels) 2011-2012 244 in bioengineering (biotechnology not reported)** 21 in biotechnology** 3 in bioengineering (biotechnology not reported)**
Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal degree time) for 2005 Entering Class 85%** 49%** 66%**
Noteworthy Two Nobel Laureates in chemistry and biochemistry and two National Medal of Science winners in bioengineering are part of the faculty Only college in San Diego that offers a Professional Science Master of Biotechnology degree Obtained 799 grants that accounted for almost 145 million dollars towards new research for all programs***

Sources: *U.S. News & World Report, 2013 data; **NCES College Navigator; ***San Diego State University.

Winner: University of California - San Diego

  • UC - San Diego is home to the San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology
  • Volunteer research opportunities available in areas like biosensors, genetic circuits, tissue remodeling and more

The University of California - San Diego offers a Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering with a focus on biotechnology through its Jacobs School of Engineering. The upper-division requirements for the undergraduate major are supplemented with engineering lab courses in biotechnology practices and bioengineering design. The senior design project allows students to gain advanced hands-on training in the specialty of their choice with supervision by UC - San Diego faculty; examples of past projects include fabrication of instruments for measuring animals' vital signs and creation of artificial biomaterials for neural cells.

The graduate programs offered include a Master of Science in Bioengineering, which focuses on issues like biomechanics, tissue engineering, thermodynamics of biological systems, transport phenomena and neurodynamics. There is also a BS/MS honors program in bioengineering that allows students to earn both degrees in less time. The Master of Engineering degree program prepares students to work as project and design engineers in bioengineering. Finally, students may also complete a PhD program in bioengineering.

Runner-Up #1: California State University - San Marcos

  • Offers both bachelor's and master's degree programs specifically focused on biotechnology
  • Students can apply for internships in a stem cell research program funded by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
  • All professors hold the highest academic degree in their respective fields

The bachelor's degree program in biotechnology is an interdisciplinary program that prepares students for biotechnology careers in a variety of industries, including pharmaceutical, agricultural, medical and environmental. In addition to traditional biology courses, students take courses in systems analysis, animal physiology, neuropsychopharmacology, biotechnology computer skills and biotechnology laboratory research. Students can earn academic credit for applied biotechnology internships.

The Professional Science Master of Biotechnology is a 2-year program intended to fill the demand for business-minded scientists in the biotech industry. This is fulfilled by training students in the commercial side of science, including basic patent law, biotechnology regulation and scientific communication. The program is supplemented with internships and residencies related to the thesis project.

Also, a biotechnology laboratory technician certificate program has been designed but wasn't yet available as of summer of 2013.

Runner-Up #2: San Diego State University

  • SDSU's Molecular Biology Institute has high biotechnology research activity
  • Seminars from distinguished scientists on various topics in biology are offered every week
  • Biological field stations in various ecosystems are open to students for research and classes

SDSU offers a certificate program in biotechnology that's open to undergraduate and graduate students as well as biological technicians who've completed a set of prerequisite courses in biology and chemistry. Courses in the certificate program teach professional lab techniques for molecular biology research and prepare graduates for employment.

At the bachelor's level, students can major in biology and focus on bioengineering through elective courses. The school also offers a Master of Science program in molecular biology where students can complete an internship and thesis research at a local biotech company.

SDSU has a Master of Science program in bioengineering that allows for specialization in biomechanics, bioinstrumentation or biomaterials. A PhD program in bioengineering is offered as well. Additionally, the school will debut a bioengineering emphasis for the bachelor's degree program in mechanical engineering in 2014.


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