Fully online master's degree programs in biotechnology are rare, although hybrid programs that combine online and in-person requirements are available. Master's program students usually tailor their programs by choosing a specialization, and the curriculum may include both business-centric and science-intensive coursework.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the minimum educational requirement for a career as a biomedical engineer or a biological technician is typically a bachelor's degree. Individuals who have a bachelor's degree in a field other than biomedical engineering may choose a master's degree program in the field; a graduate degree is required for advanced research positions. Online requirements may include speakers and a headset.
Master's Degrees in Biotechnology
Online master's degree programs in biotechnology focus on bioengineering, bioethics and the legalities of research and experiments. This program often requires students to choose a specific subject on which to concentrate their studies, such as biodefense, life science or biotechnology enterprise.
Information and Requirements
Completion of up to 40 credit hours, sometimes including a thesis, internship or project, is required. Students may be required to attend classes on campus from time to time as this degree program is often offered as a blended program. A bachelor's degree is required for entry into a master's degree program.
Courses may be asynchronous, meaning that students communicate with instructors typically using an online discussion board or electronic mail; synchronous course, allow students to communicate simultaneously. Software requirements often include Adobe Acrobat to open PDF documents, along with Shockwave and other players for transmission of video and other media. An Internet connection is essential. Students may be required to purchase or use speakers or a headset for delivery of course materials. If students are required to purchase textbooks, they will be informed of this during registration.
Required courses vary, depending on an individual's chosen concentration. Some courses, such as seminar courses, may have prerequisites that features completion of particular coursework or a test. The processes involved in product development and legal regulation of the biotechnology industry are two areas of study.
This course focuses on public and private leadership working with community members, as well as business courses including marketing, finance and decision-making. Students learn to write for scientific audiences, interpret data and design research programs and experiments.
Students learn about the processes involved in developing biopharmaceutical products, from theoretical basis to application. This course focuses on samples from bacteria to animal cells and results in students understanding, at the basic level, of cell growth and metabolism, fluid mechanics and mass transfer.
Students learn about the Food and Drug Administration and regulatory agencies' enforcement of laws meant to ensure quality and safety in biotechnology, as well as drug and medical device companies. From requirements to bring in or send out products to the Freedom of Information Act, students learn about the legal aspects of enforcement in biotechnology.
Graduates of biotechnology programs can find employment in agriculture, as an agricultural scientist, in biotechnology production as process development associates or, with further education, as geneticists, examining individual genes for anomalies and possible disease-causing problems. Agricultural science degrees often require only a bachelor's degree, unless an individual wishes to work in research at the university level. Process development associates are science technicians who work in laboratories to improve products. Geneticists conduct medical studies to evaluate families for genetic diseases, use statistics to analyze data and record research processes and outcomes.
According to the BLS, there were 20,890 biomedical engineers employed in 2015. As of May 2015, biomedical engineers earned an average of $91,230 a year. In 2015, there were approximately 72,900 biological technicians. Those individuals earned, on average, $45,230 annually.
Further educational opportunities, including doctoral programs, are available in traditional classroom settings. These terminal degrees require students to complete a master's degree program prior to enrollment and students must complete and defend a dissertation to qualify for graduation. Students must submit results from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
Students who are interested in completing an online biotechnology master's degree program should know that it is rare to find and that there are also programs that are hybrid in nature available as well. Upon graduation, students have the option to seek more education in the form of doctoral programs once they meet the educational requirements.