Students who would like to enroll in a graduate program in environmental biotechnology may be interested in learning more about what types of programs are available to them in this field. This article will cover some general information about these programs, including what kinds of options are offered, program structure, common curriculum, and admissions standards.
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Graduate Programs in Environmental Biotechnology
When available as an academic discipline, environmental biotechnology is typically offered as a concentration or research focus area within a university's engineering school. Programs are available as master's and Ph.D. degrees, both of which generally require students to complete a combination of coursework and independent research. Below, five courses that are commonly found in these programs are discussed.
A course that is focused in environmental microbiology could give students an overview in some of the fundamental concepts in microbiology, including the structure of various microbes, their metabolic processes, and their function. The course may be taught from a perspective that is specifically geared towards engineers and may highlight how concepts of microbiology are applicable to biotechnology. Other topics that may be covered include environmental ecosystems/ecology and microbial diversity.
Environmental Aquatic Chemistry
It is common for these programs to include a course that is focused on environmental aquatic chemistry, as understanding this field is necessary if students are interested in biotechnology that involves water systems. In such a course, students might learn about the composition of water, including its organic elements and inorganic contaminants. The course may also cover topics like speciation, complexation, and reactivity.
Environmental Fluid Transfer
These programs also typically include a course that addresses the various processes that determine environmental transfer, particularly focusing on the transfer of fluids. Students could learn about different types of flow, including stratified and turbulent flow, flow through porous beds, and how mass is transferred during the flow of fluids. The course may also cover how fluid transfer processes may be different depending on whether they are occurring in natural or engineering systems.
A molecular biology course may also be required in a graduate program in biotechnology and environmental engineering, as having an in-depth understanding of biology on the molecular level is essential in this field of study. This class would likely cover advanced topics in molecular biology like protein synthesis, RNA processing, DNA transcription, and genetic systems. Additionally, this course may focus on molecular biology as it applies to relevant topics in biotechnology and environmental engineering, like how molecular biology can be used to analyze different kinds of pollutants in the environment.
Research in Biotechnology and Environmental Engineering
Students may also have the opportunity to take a research oriented course that either tackles relevant topics in environmental engineering or biotechnology or allows students to pursue their own research interests in these fields. The class may cover pertinent issues in the field, like environmental health, new technology to combat problems in environmental engineering, or water treatment and pollution. Students may be able to work on some of the problems they have identified during the course of their program by conducting research in laboratories.
Admissions Standards for Graduate Programs in Environmental Biotechnology
In order to be admitted to a graduate program in environmental biotechnology, students will commonly need to fulfill the prerequisites as specified by each program, in addition to submitting an application file. Applicants are typically expected to have completed a significant number of courses in biology and chemistry, as well as mathematics, during their undergraduate careers, especially if they have not previously completed engineering or biology-related degrees. When applying to these programs, students will normally need to send an application form, letters of recommendation, undergraduate transcripts, a resume, personal statement, and GRE results.
In summary, students who want to study environmental biotechnology at the graduate level can do so by enrolling in master's or Ph.D. programs in engineering that offer this subfield as a concentration or area of research focus. Admissions requirements may vary, depending on the degree level and school of attendance.