Shilpee Singh
Written By - Shilpee Singh

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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 producing 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.

Online Biotechnology Master’s Programs

Table Of Contents

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Best Master’s in Biotechnology Online Programs

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 grasp better while 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 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.:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
#1
Johns Hopkins University
3400 N Charles St, Baltimore, Maryland 21218
$58,72095%
#2
Columbia University in the City of New York
West 116 St and Broadway, New York, New York 10027
$50,49697%
#3
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
601 E John Street, Champaign, Illinois 61820
$14,63585%
#4
George Washington University
1918 F Street, NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20052
$32,85084%
#5
Case Western Reserve University
10900 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, Ohio 44106
$49,35884%
#6
Northwestern University
633 Clark St, Evanston, Illinois 60208
$56,06795%
#7
University of Maryland Global Campus
3501 University Blvd East, Adelphi, Maryland 20783
$9,07221%
#8
University of Wisconsin-Madison
500 Lincoln Dr, Madison, Wisconsin 53706
$10,72889%
#9
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
100 Institute Road, Worcester, Massachusetts 01609
$28,98087%
#10
Harvard University
Massachusetts Hall, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
$50,92897%

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Master’s in Biotechnology Online Programs

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 focusing on biotechnology, are for full-time professionals, 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. However, the more significant part of the curriculum is up to the student’s discretion; they can choose from various courses. Toward the end of their programs, students may have to take up a capstone project or submit a thesis to earn an online biotechnology degree.

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 various 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Drug Design and Discovery – This course gives students 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.
  4. 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.

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. An 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 Description 
Molecular Biotechnology 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 for 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.
Microbiology This specialization focuses on independent scientific and medical disciplines like bacteriology, clinical microbiology virology, parasitology, public health science, vaccinology, and immunology. The fundamentals of microbiology, including microbial metabolism and its functions in various bioprocesses, are the primary outlines of this specialization.
Molecular Medicine This specialization helps students diagnose and treat disease by understanding how proteins, genes, and other cellular molecules work. Molecular medicine extensively researches how certain genes, molecules, and cellular functions may become abnormal in diseases such as cancer.
Plant Biotechnology 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
  • Pharmaceutical Technologies
  • Biotechnology Management
  • Medical Biotechnology
  • Food Biotechnology

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 Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)[1]
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)[2]
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)[3]
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)[4]
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)[5]
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)[6]

Some schools offer biology and biotechnology degree programs programmatically accredited by agencies such as the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)[7]. 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 electives 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.

Online Biotechnology Master’s Programs Admission Requirements

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 of 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:

  • Application Form and Fee
  • Official Academic Transcripts
  • A Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.75 or higher
  • Graduate Résumé
  • Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement
  • At least 2 Letters of Recommendation
  • 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 Master’s in Biotechnology Online Programs

The GRE  and GMAT  scores determine a candidate’s prospective admission to the institution of choice. A highly-ranked master’s program will require a strong performance on these tests. 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 are John Hopkins University[8], The University of Wisconsin-Madison[9], and Northwestern University[10].

Accelerated Master’s in Biotechnology Online Programs

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 two years. By opting for an 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[11] offers a master of science in biotechnology 1-Year experiential program that is intensive, work-based, and experience-driven.

Free Courses for Master’s in Biotechnology Online 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:

Course Provided by Description 
Various Topics Related to BiotechnologyCoursera Coursera is a global online learning platform that offers access to free beginner- and intermediate-level courses from leading universities and organizations on various biotechnology-related topics to anyone, anywhere. Topics include industrial biotechnology, algae biotechnology, drug development product management, bioinformatics, etc.
Various Topics Related to Biotechnology Udemy 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 cloning and gene therapy, biotechnology principles and processes, etc.
Various Topics Related to Biotechnology Future LearnFuture Learn offers a few free courses on biotechnology-related topics, including genomic medicine, future genetics in medicine, and genomic techniques in clinical diagnostics, to name a few.
Various Topics Related to Biotechnology Alison The online platform Alison offers free courses on various 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 a Master’s in Biotechnology Online 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 yearly. 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

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

Grants are offered to students from low-income backgrounds on a case-by-case basis. Numerous educational expenses, such as tuition, fees, and 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 Assistantships

Graduate teaching assistantships are available to students who agree to work part-time 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

Student loans are 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.

FAFSA

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.

Scholarships for Online Biotechnology Master’s Students

Graduate 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.

Careers and Salary Outlook for Master’s in Biotechnology Online 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 various fields. Because biology encompasses everything from the molecular study of life processes to the study of plants and animal communities, biological science careers are anticipated to rapidly expand 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
  • Research Scientist
  • Regulatory Affairs Manager
  • Product Development Scientist
  • Research and Development Manager
  • Water Resource Specialist
  • Bioinformatics Scientist
  • Manufacturing Supervisor
  • Quality Control Analyst
  • Validation Engineer

Listed below are some careers biotechnology graduates can consider, along with their annual median salaries and job outlook:

Occupation Median Annual Salary Job Growth (up to 2030) Job Description 
Biofuels Production Managers$148,07412% (faster than average) Biofuels production managers manage and supervise operations activities related to the production of biofuels, using expertise in machine and equipment capabilities and production processes and procedures.
Natural Sciences Managers$144,4405% (faster than average)Natural sciences managers oversee product development, manufacturing initiatives, and scientific research operations.
Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers$99,5505% (faster than average)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$81,9905% (faster than average)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$47,1808% (faster than average)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 Master’s in Biotechnology Online Graduates

Biotechnology is a vast science that tremendously impacts many vital aspects of modern life. Students who have completed an online master’s 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.

  1. 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; ABOR certifies bench-level laboratory personnel (technologists, laboratory scientists, technicians, etc.)
  2. 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 various 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 Master’s in Biotechnology Online Students and Professionals

Students who have earned a master’s in biotechnology online need to stay current 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:

  1. 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 innovative biotechnology industries.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

FAQs About Master’s in Biotechnology Online Programs

What is a master’s in biotechnology?

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.

What can you do with a master’s in biotechnology degree?

How long is a biotechnology master’s?

Is a biotechnology master’s worth it?

Biology vs. biotechnology – what is the difference?

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