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Degree Overview: Graduate Degree Program in Biotechnology

Majors Overview April 26, 2015

Get information about graduate degree programs in biotechnology and their coursework, career choices, and job and wage outlook.

Master of Science (M.S.) Programs in Biotechnology

Students enrolled in master’s degree programs in biotechnology are trained to work as biological scientists in the field of biophysics or biochemistry. Admission criteria typically require incoming students to a master’s degree program to hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as biotechnology or biology. Work experience is a requirement for admittance to some programs.

The master’s degree program covers physical science and applied biology skills, and students learn ways of researching biophysics and biological processes whereby reactions in living organisms are controlled. An overview of genomics, biological chemistry, and cell biology is provided in this study. Concentrations in pharmaceuticals, regulatory compliance, and bioinformatics are offered in some graduate programs.


Project management principles, ethics, and patents within the biotechnology field are in graduate coursework. Core coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Molecular biology
•Biotechnology projects

Career Choices

With a master’s degree in biotechnology, graduates can seek employment as biochemists and biophysicists; a doctorate would, however, be a requirement for those seeking to lead research projects.

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, job growth rate of nineteen percent have been predicted for biochemists and biophysicists (United States Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2012, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $81,480 (BLS).

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Programs in Biotechnology

Students enrolled in doctorate biotechnology programs are taught about biology in general, bioengineering, or biomolecular science. Individuals who have completed a master’s degree can seek enrollment in a Ph.D. program to pursue a career as a biomolecular science or medical scientist. Students who hold only a four-year degree may also be admitted to some programs.

Those who complete graduate biotechnology programs are provided advanced research skills, in addition to the skills necessary for presenting scientific data. A mathematical approach to organic chemistry, cell biology, and genetics is explored in the coursework related to these programs.


Students begin a doctoral degree program by completing courses in research ethics, chemistry, and biological statistics; usually, courses combine research rotations and a biotechnology externship. Core coursework may include topic areas such as the following:

•Advanced calculus
•Genetic structure
•Biotechnology engineering
•Molecular biology

Career Choices

Those seeking employment as a college professor or medical scientist typically need a Ph.D.; however, only a master’s degree is required in some positions. With a master’s degree, a graduate can seek occupations at a university (as non-tenured faculty) or in applied biotechnology positions.

Graduate degree holders in biotechnology seeking careers in medical research are required to become licensed physicians before they are allowed to interact with patients.

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2012 – 2022 decade, job growth rate of nineteen percent — attributed to higher college enrollments — have been predicted for college instructors (BLS). In May 2012, biological science teachers at the college level brought in an average annual wage of $68,970 (BLS).

Medical scientists are expected to see much-faster-than-average job growth rate of thirteen percent over the 2012 – 2022 decade on the back of the growth of the biotechnology industry as a whole, in addition to the creation of new medical therapies. In May 2012, medical scientists brought home an average annual wage of $76,980.

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