Biotechnology is a science that uses living organisms, or products of living organisms, for human benefit, and it has a tremendous impact on many vital aspects of modern life. The online biotechnology master’s degree program focuses on the application of biotechnology within the food/agricultural and medical fields. The program provides skills to understand how biotechnological processes are used in the production of specific foods, how the genetic modification of food crops has increased nutritional value, and how the healthcare sector has benefited from biotechnology to produce medicines and vaccines to prevent or cure disease. This guide expounds on the master’s in biotechnology online degree program, its curriculum, program structure, accreditation, available career options, and more.
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Online master’s in biotechnology degree programs are available in person, online, or through distance learning from many institutions throughout the United States. These advanced programs enable students to obtain a better grasp while also expanding their knowledge and professional experience. The best online master’s programs are accredited and have trained and experienced faculty, student support services, excellent infrastructure, and a reputation in placement history. Several OMC teams have analyzed biotechnology master’s programs, which are affordable, flexible, and accredited. Here is the list of the best online biotechnology master’s programs in the U.S.:
A master’s in biotechnology online program is for professionals interested in pursuing a career in medical, pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical analytical science, food technology, and forensic science. This program prepares students on various topics that range from modern drug design and the role of biotechnology in health care to the industrial application of enzymes and bio-polymer synthesis. The availability of varied and diverse topics enables students to specialize in selected biotechnology areas.
Online programs, especially those that focus on biotechnology, are for professionals employed full-time, and a traditional program is simply unfeasible. Online programs also provide flexibility and affordability. Some institutions split the curriculum into two sections: the core curriculum and the elective curriculum, but the more significant part of the curriculum is up to the student’s discretion; they have a choice from various courses available to them. Toward the end of their programs, students may have to either take up a capstone project or submit a thesis to earn an online biotechnology degree.
Online Biotechnology Master’s Degree Types
Online biotechnology master’s degrees come in two types: the Master of Arts or MA in Biotechnology online and the Master of Science or MS in Biotechnology online. Although the course contents are similar, their purpose and scope are customized for different career paths.
Master of Arts in Biotechnology
The Master of Arts in Biotechnology program focuses on modern aspects of molecular biology, particularly emphasizing how innovative technologies are transforming biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. It is also an opportunity to advance skill sets, often allowing students to stand out in the workplace. A MA Biotechnology will enable students to focus on their expertise in one or more subjects, such as biochemistry or cell biology, and gain exposure to a broad multi-disciplinary understanding of life science along with arts and humanities.
Master of Science in Biotechnology
The Master of Science in Biotechnology program focuses on advanced biotechnological subjects based on essential topics and studies in microbiology, biochemistry, and cell and molecular biology. As a result, students enrolling in MS Biotechnology programs take the full course load of required biology degree courses.
Specializations in Online Biotechnology Master’s Programs
Specializations are an excellent choice for those who want to focus on an area within biotechnology. They help in one’s academic opportunities and career prospects, providing the flexibility to explore different subjects. Most master’s programs in biotechnology require further study that deepens students’ knowledge and skills. To prepare students for expertise, most schools offer biotechnology specializations or concentrations, some of which are:
Area of Specialization
This specialization provides students with informative and practical knowledge in molecular biotechnology, protein expression, and structural biology. Students learn how to generate and optimize molecular forms needed to produce recombinant proteins to be used in biopharmaceutical applications.
Manufacturing and Quality Operations
This specialization trains students to ensure the production of high-quality medicines. It will improve their competency to learn new practical skills, enabling them to work more productively in various biotechnology-related fields such as research of biological systems, discovery, development, and production of biopharmaceuticals.
Cell and Molecular Biology
This specialization offers extensive study in cell biology, molecular biology, microbiology, biochemistry, and molecular genetics study of cells and the macromolecules like the DNA, RNA, protein, lipids, and carbohydrates that define their structure and function. Further, experiential learning is an integral part of this concentration.
This specialization focuses on independent scientific and medical disciplines like bacteriology, clinical microbiology virology, parasitology, public health science, vaccinology, immunology, and others. The fundamentals of microbiology, including microbial metabolism and its functions in various bioprocesses, are the primary outline of this specialization.
This specialization helps students diagnose and treat disease by understanding how proteins, genes, and other cellular molecules work. Molecular medicine is a science extensively researching how certain genes, molecules, and cellular functions may become abnormal in diseases such as cancer.
This specialization focuses on how agriculture has witnessed many problems like crop quality deterioration, low crop yield, infestation, weeds, and loss of soil fertility. Students study genetically modified crops (GMCs), a result of genetic engineering, and learn about generating crops resistant to biotic and abiotic stress.
Some other examples of biotechnology specializations include:
Biopharmaceutical Analytical Sciences
Curriculum and Skills Gained in Online Biotechnology Master’s Programs
The online biotechnology master’s is a two-year program designed to develop students’ skills critical to success in today’s dynamic world of science through innovative, advanced interdisciplinary training in biotechnology, chemistry, biology, biochemistry, and pharmaceutical sciences. This program prepares students to collaborate, innovate and lead as research, technical, or managerial professionals in a wide range of biotechnology specialties. Typically, 30 to 40 credits are required to obtain a biotechnology master. The curriculum for the program varies by the university but will primarily contain some of the following biotechnology courses:
Biodefense – Biodefense is a method of detecting, preventing, or managing an attack using biological weapons. This course makes students understand how germs, viruses, and bacteria, often found in nature, are used in a bioterrorism attack by increasing their ability to cause serious disease, spread, or resist medical treatment. Students are taught how medical measures like medicines and vaccinations protect people against bioterrorism.
Bioinformatics – Bioinformatics is a science that involves using computer technology to store, collect, analyze, and share biological data and information, such as DNA and amino acid sequences or definitions of those sequences. This course helps students understand how scientists and doctors use databases that organize such biological information to increase their understanding of health and disease as part of medical care.
Drug Design and Discovery – This course provides students with a deeper knowledge of the different processes involved in using bioinformatics and technology to design drugs. Students focus on understanding disease mechanisms and the research of drugs for biopharmaceutical targets.
Molecular Medicine – This course examines the human genome’s organization and major aspects, such as replication, gene expression, epigenetics, and the significance of non-coding RNA. Central subjects include the consequences of mutations and polymorphisms, inherited disorders, and molecular features of important common diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and vascular and coronary disease.
As for the skills one would have acquired from this program, graduates with a master’s in biotechnology would have the ability to:
demonstrate reasoning, analytical, and problem-solving skills to assess, comprehend, and use scientific methods to solve issues;
assess scientific material critically and understand what goes into the scientific research process;
explain complex ideas to technical and non-technical audiences;
design experiments and work in a team in a lab or research setting;
record observations and utilize statistical tests to predict outcomes and summarize research findings; and
come up with new ideas and ways to solve complex issues.
Accreditation for Online Biotechnology Master’s Programs
Most higher education institutions or programs undergo a rigorous process to validate educational standards. This process is known as accreditation. Accreditation confirms that an institution’s degree program meets a minimum level of academic quality. It assures that the degree is accepted by employers, professional associations, and other authorized higher education institutions. Accreditation may be offered by national accrediting agencies or one of the six regional accrediting agencies, which are:
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
Some schools offer biology and biotechnology degree programs programmatically accredited by agencies such as the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). The ASBMB programmatically accredits MS or MA degree programs in biochemistry, molecular biology, or a closely related field.
Understand why it is important for prospective students to choose accredited biotechnology colleges by reading the Accreditation Guide.
Timeline for graduation from Online Biotechnology Master’s Programs
Typically, a master of biotechnology degree is a two-year program requiring about 30 to 40 credits. However, the overall duration of the program will depend on whether classes are synchronous or asynchronous, the coursework and elective involved, and whether a thesis or capstone must be completed. People who are employed will significantly benefit from an online degree program that allows them to access course material on their own time. Part-timers could take about 3 to 4 years to earn their degrees.
Every degree program necessitates the applicant to meet certain admission requirements. A bachelor’s degree, preferably in biology, chemistry, or any biology-related field, is mandatory to enter a master’s in biotechnology program. A high-Grade Point Average (GPA) and good test scores are valuable, and participation in extracurricular activities is an advantage. Since the requirements for the institution of choice may vary, it is usually a good idea to check with the admissions office for exact and specific requirements. Some of the master’s in biotechnology admission requirements across most colleges are:
Proof of English proficiency (for applicants whose native language is other than English)
Some institutions may need a video or phone interview as part of the application process.
No GRE Online Biotechnology Master’s Programs
The GRE and GMAT scores determine a candidate’s prospective admission to the institution of choice. A strong performance on these tests will be required by a highly ranked master’s program. Although many schools may require a GRE score, there are exceptions where some universities waive the requirement if the applicant has a high GPA or work experience. Some examples of universities that offer online biotechnology master’s no GRE programs areJohn Hopkins University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, andNorthwestern University.
An accelerated program lets students finish their degree requirements faster; however, this format does not work for every student. Before enrolling in an accelerated program, students should consider their availability and the program format. Some accelerated programs provide classes all year round to help students advance faster and complete the program before the typical schedule of 2 years. By opting for accelerated master’s in biotechnology online, students can use credit transfers and take higher course loads to achieve lower graduation times. For example, Northeastern University offers a master of science in biotechnology 1-Year experiential program that is intensive, work-based, and experience-driven.
Free Courses for Online Biotechnology Master’s Students
Free courses are a great way to learn something new and sharpen existing abilities in certain aspects of biotechnology. They can also assist students with assignments and exam preparation. Here are some resources to find free biotechnology courses online:
Coursera is a global online learning platform that offers access to free beginner- and intermediate-level courses from leading universities and organizations on a variety of biotechnology-related topics to anyone, anywhere. Topics include industrial biotechnology, algae biotechnology, drug development product management, bioinformatics, etc.
Udemy offers some free courses and many at reasonable rates. Some free courses include antibodies and their role in therapeutics, industrial biotechnology, basics of gene clone and gene therapy, biotechnology principles and processes, etc.
The online platform Alison offers free courses on a wide variety of biotechnology-related topics, some of which come with certification. These include applications of biotechnology, cell biology techniques, fundamentals in biotechnology and genetics, to name a few.
How to Pay for an Online Biotechnology Master’s Program
Although careers for online master’s in biotechnology in the United States fetch students good wages, prospective students might be concerned about program fees. Even though online programs are less expensive and come with the extra benefit of not requiring students to pay for lodging, transportation, or food, they still must pay tuition fees, which keep increasing every year. The costs could be too much for some students to handle on their own. Fortunately, several financial assistance options are available to students seeking a master’s in biotechnology degree online, which might drastically reduce total costs and lessen their financial burden. The following are some such sources of funding:
Scholarships are a common aid for funding education for most students. They are available to those who excel in academics, athletics, the arts, or any other endeavor. Individuals, groups, non-profit organizations, for-profit companies, religious organizations, and educational institutions award scholarships to deserving students. Note: Read about Scholarship Scams to avoid being scammed online.
Grants are offered to students from low-income backgrounds on a case-by-case basis. Numerous expenses associated with education, such as tuition, fees, board, as well as books and supplies, are covered mainly by grants. Grants, like scholarships, do not have to be paid back as they are “free money”.
Graduate teaching assistantships are available to students who agree to work a part-time job or teach a course at their school in exchange for fee rebates and occasionally a monthly stipend. Research assistantships may be taken by those interested in assisting professors in a lab or with research.
Student loans are sums of money often borrowed from a bank or financial institution. These loans can cover tuition fees, boarding, bills and utilities, meals or groceries, books, equipment (Laptop/Printer), and transportation. Loans attract interest, which must be paid back along with the principal amount in equated monthly installments.
Students can apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA to check if they qualify for federal financial aid for grad school.
Read the Financial Aid Guide to know more about how to fund an online biotechnology master’s degree.
Scholarships for Online Biotechnology Master’s Students
Graduate School Scholarships have the edge over other forms of financial assistance because they are not repaid. They are awarded to students who achieve in academics or other areas and can help with the expense of obtaining a master’s degree in biotechnology, including tuition and other fees. No specific biotechnology scholarships are available in biotechnology because institutions do not directly provide them. However, there are several options to apply for scholarships related to biology and other life sciences, which students could look for and explore.
FAQs about Online Biotechnology Master’s Programs
Q. What is a master’s in biotechnology?
A.A master’s in biotechnology studies how biological processes work through molecules, cells, and organisms. This graduate-level degree plays a vital role in creating and developing production methods for biomolecules such as antibiotics, vaccines, enzymes, biofuels, biopolymers, etc.
Q. What can you do with a master’s in biotechnology degree?
A.With an online biotechnology master’s, students can discover new ways to sidestep genetic defects, optimize food sources cure terminal diseases, and extend human life. Some potential careers come with high salaries and strong job growth over the coming years. Biotechnologist graduates can choose to become microbiologists, natural science managers, pathologists, animal scientists, soil and plant scientists, and agriculture engineers.
Q. How long is a biotechnology master’s?
A.Typically, a full-time online master’s in biotechnology can take about 2 years to complete. However, the timeline can change depending on core classes, electives, program delivery mode, credit transfers, and program-specific requirements.
Q. Is a biotechnology master’s worth it?
A. The online master’s in biotechnology degree program is an excellent degree in terms of employment prospects and salaries they lead to. The advantage of earning this degree outweighs the cost involved in acquiring it. Ultimately, a biotechnology master is worth it for those interested in microbiology, biomedical engineering, bioengineering, agricultural science, and pathology.
Q. Biology vs. biotechnology – what is the difference?
A.Biology is a multidisciplinary science that primarily deals with the growth, structure, function, evolution, and a methodological study of life and living organisms. At the same time, biotechnology is a science that uses living organisms or products of living organisms for human benefit that has a tremendous impact on many essential aspects of modern life.
Careers and Salary Outlook for Online Biotechnology Master’s Graduates
The field of biology is expanding as the years go by. An online master’s degree in biology offers a versatile credential that may take one in a variety of different fields. Because biology encompasses everything from the molecular study of life processes to the study of plants and animal communities, careers in biological science are anticipated to have rapid expansion in the next few years. Students need to consider whether they want to use the master’s degree to enter a professional field directly or as a foundation for advanced study in a healthcare field like medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, etc. The master’s degree can lead to careers in various settings and roles, including:
Clinical Research Coordinator
Regulatory Affairs Manager
Product Development Scientist
Research and Development Manager
Water Resource Specialist
Quality Control Analyst
Listed below are some careers biotechnology graduates can consider, along with their annual median salaries and job outlook:
Biofuels production managers manage and supervise operations activities related to the production of biofuels, utilizing expertise in machine and equipment capabilities and production processes and procedures.
Bioengineers and biomedical engineers are experts in designing computer software to run complicated instruments, such as three-dimensional x-ray machines. They also design software for medical equipment or computer simulations to test new drug therapies that improve human health.
Microbiologists primarily work in research or development, conducting basic research to increase scientific knowledge. They also aid in developing genetically engineered crops, better biofuels, and vaccines.
Medical records and health information specialists validate and verify patients’ health information, including medical history, symptoms, test results, treatments, and other information about healthcare services.
Certifications and Licensing for Online Biotechnology Master’s Graduates
Biotechnology is a vast science that tremendously impacts many vital aspects of modern life. Students who have completed an online master in biotechnology can enhance their career options and gain specialized knowledge in the field through certifications. Certifications and licensing reflect well on a student’s resume alongside their projects and help them stand out from their peers. Though certifications may not be mandatory, some firms encourage applicants and employees to have them. Here are a couple of certifications to consider.
American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB) Certifications – The American Association of Bioanalysts (AAB) and the AAB Board of Registry (ABOR) are independent national certifying bodies for lab specialists and pathologists. ABB certifies directors, consultants, and supervisors, and ABOR certifies bench-level laboratory personnel (technologists, laboratory scientists, technicians, etc.)
The American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Certifications– The American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP) is an administratively independent certification organization for pathologists and non-physician medical laboratory professionals. The ASCP provides a wide range of credentials for molecular biologists, microbiologists, and laboratory technicians. The ASCP certifications include Highest Volume Certifications, Technician Certifications, Technologists Certifications, and Special Certifications.
Additional Resources for Online Biotechnology Master’s Students and Professionals
Students who have earned a master’s in biotechnology online need to stay up to date on the latest advancements in their field, which can benefit their careers. They can benefit immensely by participating in a professional organization or an association, helping them stay alongside the most recent developments in the sector. Many societies and organizations provide membership with benefits, including employment opportunities, training, access to strong peer networks, mentoring, and more. Here are a few resources to consider:
International Council of Biotechnology Associations (ICBA) – The International Council of Biotechnology Groups (ICBA) is a group of non-profit, national trade associations for the biotechnology industry that was established to promote public policies that support the development of the innovative biotechnology industries.
BioMedical Engineering Society (BMES)– The BioMedical Engineering Society (BMES) is a professional society that promotes and enhances knowledge and education in biomedical engineering and bioengineering and its utilization for human well-being. BMES membership benefits include more than 2,000 leading scientific presentations, an exhibit hall, and networking and career development sessions, among others.
American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) – American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) is a professional society with a mission to advance plant science and research, to promote the growth and development of plant biology, to encourage research in plant biology, and to promote the interests, growth, and education of plant scientists throughout the globe. ASPB membership has vast benefits, including online access to scientific content on plant cells and plant physiology.
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) – The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) promotes the science of biochemistry and molecular biology and provides an understanding of the molecular nature of life processes. The society serves the scientific community through the organization of scientific meetings, support of career development and science education at all levels, publications, and promoting the diversity of individuals entering the scientific workforce.
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