Goals of marine biotechnology include studying extremophiles (organisms living in the most extreme marine climates) and using the ocean's resources to find cures for disease; another recent focus is on sustainably culturing algae that can be developed into biodiesel fuel for cars.
Master's and doctoral programs in marine biotechnology may consist of biochemistry and cell biology coursework, as well as independent research projects, research rotations, graduate seminars and teaching assistantships. A dissertation may be required of doctoral-level learners. Job outcomes might include research scientists, professors or marine ecologists.
Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field like biology, chemistry or engineering for the master's programs. A bachelor's degree in the life sciences or a relevant engineering field is required for the doctoral programs.
Master's Degree in Biotechnology
Students in graduate-level biotechnology programs, including the Master of Science (M.S.) in Biological Sciences, M.S. in Environmental Molecular Biology and Master of Advanced Studies in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, study everything from molecular biology to engineering. Programs with marine biotechnology concentrations allow students to focus on marine diversity to better understand how animals thrive in extreme environments. Master's degree programs can take between 2-4 years to finish.
Marine biotechnologists seek to find practical applications for the biological and chemical properties of extremophiles, using the information to cure disease and make modern day life easier. In order to do this, students must learn about a variety of topics in the life sciences, including:
- Bioprocess engineering
- Cell biology
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Doctoral Degree in Biotechnology
Most scientists are required to have a doctoral degree in order to oversee independent research projects. Doctoral degree programs in biotechnology, with research centers in marine biotechnology, teach everything from aquatic microbiology to immunology. Doctoral programs, including the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biotechnology and the Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, cover everything from how certain marine bacteria colonize surfaces to how hormones and environmental stressors affect cancer, growth and physical malformation in fish. Doctoral degree programs in biotechnology and related fields can take 5-6 years to complete.
Doctorate-level biotechnology programs typically include research rotations and seminars, dissertation research, graduate seminars and teaching assistantships. Ph.D. programs in this field teach students about biodiversity and extremophiles, as well as bioinformatics and tissue cultures. Coursework includes:
- Cell biology
- Ecology and environmental policy
- Molecular biology
- Scientific writing
Popular Career Options
With a Ph.D. in biotechnology or a closely related science field, employment options can be found in various universities, levels of the government, scientific research and manufacturing pharmaceuticals. Marine biotechnologists are grouped into biomedical or environmental research as the major research areas. Popular job titles include:
- Bioremediation specialist
- Cancer drug researcher
- Marine chemical ecologist
- Marine bioprospector
- Professor or research scientist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment rate for biochemists and biophysicists is anticipated to grow 8% from 2014-2024. In the same decade, zoologists and wildlife biologists will have a projected 4% job growth. The BLS reported in 2015 that biochemists and biophysicists earned $82,150 as a median annual wage. Zoologists and wildlife biologists made $59,680 as a median annual salary in 2015.
Marine biotechnology programs are designed to help students explore marine diversity, use information about the ocean to help cure diseases, and learn more about extremophiles. Graduates of these programs are prepared for careers in biomedical or environmental research such as cancer drug researcher, marine bioprospector, or research scientist.