Graduate Biotechnology Programs: Overview by Level

Oct 10, 2019

Graduate programs in biotechnology allow students to gain the necessary knowledge to seek careers as biological scientists, researchers or educators. Learn more about available programs and the employment outlook for the field of biotechnology.

Essential Information

Graduate programs in the field of biotechnology usually award a Master of Science in Biotechnology or Doctor of Philosophy in Biotechnology degree. A bachelor's degree and relevant work experience are generally required for enrollment in a graduate biotechnology program. When entering the master's-level program in biotechnology, enrollees can expect to study physical science and cell biology courses as well as subjects related to pharmaceuticals. Some programs may feature areas of concentration and have special project requirements. Students of a doctoral program in biotechnology could further develop their research skills while also studying advanced genetics and organic chemistry. Research rotations and an externship may be included in the program curriculum.

Master of Science in Biotechnology

Master's degree programs in biotechnology prepare students to work as biological scientists in the field of biochemistry or biophysics. Applicants to a master's degree program must have a bachelor's degree in biology, biotechnology or a related field. Some programs require work experience.

Coursework in a master's degree program usually covers applied biology and physical science skills, and students learn how to research biological and biophysics processes that control reactions in living organisms. This study provides an overview of cell biology, biological chemistry and genomics. Some graduate programs offer concentrations in bioinformatics, regulatory compliance and pharmaceuticals.

Graduate coursework will cover patents, ethics and project management principles within the biotechnology field. Coursework may also include:

  • Biotechnology projects
  • Leadership
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Molecular biology

Doctor of Philosophy in Biotechnology

Doctorate biotechnology programs allow students to learn about biomolecular science, bioengineering or biology in general. Students with a master's degree can enroll in a Ph.D. program to pursue a career as a medical scientist or college professor; however, some programs admit students with only a 4-year degree.

Graduate biotechnology programs provide advanced research skills as well as the ability to present scientific data. Coursework in these programs explores a mathematical approach to genetics, cell biology and organic chemistry.

At the beginning of a doctoral degree program, students complete courses in biological statistics, chemistry and research ethics. This work is usually applied in a biotechnology externship as well as research rotations. Other course requirements may include:

  • Biotechnology engineering
  • Genetic structure
  • Proteins
  • Molecular biology
  • Advanced calculus

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Graduates with a master's degree in biotechnology can work as biophysicists and biochemists; however, those who lead research projects will need a doctoral degree. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, '''') reports that the demand for biochemists and biophysicists is expected to grow by 6% between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations. In May 2018, those employed in these fields earned a median income of $93,280. The typical requirement to work as a medical scientist or college professor is a Ph.D.; however, some positions only require a master's degree. Those with a master's degree can work in applied biotechnology positions or as non-tenured faculty at a university. Students who earn a graduate degree in biotechnology for careers in medical research must become licensed physicians before interacting with patients. The BLS reports that the demand for college instructors will increase by 11% between 2018 and 2028, and that this demand will be created by higher enrollment at colleges. In May 2018, the median salary for biological science teachers at the college level was $82,550. BLS research indicates that the demand for medical scientists will grow by 8% between 2018 and 2028. This average demand is attributable to the growth of the biotechnology industry as a whole, along with the creation of new medical therapies. Medical scientists earned a median salary of $84,810 in May 2018. Gaining a graduate degree in biotechnology gives students a solid foundation from which to launch a career in any one of these growing and profitable specialties within the larger field of biotechnology.

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