What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s in Biotechnology Program?

Online master’s in biotechnology programs offer the same academic quality as in-person programs. Also, by eliminating the need to commute to campus, online programs will provide you with more time for work, family, or any other responsibilities that you may have outside of school. Before choosing an online master’s in biotechnology program, you should carefully review your options to find the best match for your schedule, interests, and career goals.

Available concentrations

If you’re interested in a particular aspect of biotechnology, look for a program that allows you to focus your studies on that specialty. Some of the most common concentration options for a master’s in biotechnology include:

  • Bioinformatics: Combines courses in biology, mathematics, and computing; students learn to analyze large data sets to make biological discoveries and develop disease treatments.
  • Biotechnology Management: Trains students to run a laboratory as a business, including how to evaluate the business prospects of new biological discoveries and how to launch a biotechnology start-up.
  • Biotechnology Research: Focuses on scientific discovery. Students learn about pharmaceutical research, disease mechanisms, and techniques used in lab settings.
  • Biosecurity: Centers on detecting, analyzing, and developing countermeasures to biological threats.
  • Regulatory Affairs in Biotechnology: Equips students with the skills to navigate regulations regarding new biological discoveries and technologies. Classes cover topics such as business, government policy, and molecular biology.

Common degree curriculum

The exact curriculum for your online master’s in biotechnology program will depend on which school you attend and whether you select a concentration. Some examples of courses you might be able to take in your program include:

  • Biotechnology Techniques: Learn about cloning, gene editing, and synthetic biology.
  • Bioinformatics: Analyze and interpret biological data. This course covers DNA and RNA sequence analysis, DNA computing, and mathematical models applicable to biology.
  • Biotechnology Regulation: Explore the role of regulation in commercializing biological knowledge, including how different departments of the U.S. government regulate biotechnological research.
  • Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Covers the history and science of biological agents in warfare, defensive strategy, and society. You’ll learn about public health responses to biological agents and the government’s role in monitoring biosecurity issues.

Certification and license preparation

Those with a master’s in biotechnology can apply for certification in various subfields, including biopharmaceutical development and global regulatory affairs, through the Center for Professional Innovation and Education. CfPIE certification is typically not required by employers but can be used to demonstrate your competency in specific areas.

Program accreditation

Only apply to schools approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate the faculty and curriculum of postsecondary education institutions to ensure they offer students a high-quality academic experience. If your school doesn’t have regional accreditation, you may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Program completion timeframe

Online master’s in biotechnology programs usually require 30 credit hours of coursework. Most full-time students can graduate within two years, while part-time students may need up to five years.

Cohort-based programs involve remotely attending classes and completing courses simultaneously with other students. Those who want to earn their degree as quickly as possible should avoid cohort-based programs — instead, look for a program that offers asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Biotechnology Graduates

While the number of jobs in the United States is projected to increase by 3% over the next decade, most occupations related to biotechnology are expected to grow faster than that. This means there should be plenty of employment opportunities in this field, making getting hired and negotiating pay raises easier.

This degree is also excellent for anyone wanting to earn a large income. Indeed, it’s fairly common for biotechnology positions to offer six-figure salaries.

However, you should adjust your salary expectations according to where you plan to work. Areas with a higher cost of living tend to offer higher pay. For example, the average salary for natural sciences managers is over $120,000 higher in Massachusetts than in Mississippi.

Job Title Job Description Median Yearly Salary Projected Growth Rate (2022 – 2032)
Biochemist / Biophysicist Biochemists and biophysicists work in laboratories in an academic or industrial setting. They conduct basic and applied research and use complex techniques and cutting-edge technology to study biological systems. $103,810 7%
Agricultural or Food Scientist Agricultural and food scientists research ways to make food systems safer and more efficient. Biosafety experts in this role might focus on protecting the food supply, while regulatory experts may focus on bringing new genetically modified crops to market. $74,940 6%
Natural Sciences Manager Natural sciences managers oversee the business aspects of a laboratory. They supervise scientists, oversee the testing and production of biological materials, and coordinate with regulatory organizations. $144,440 5%

Professional organizations

Professional organizations can help you develop connections in the field and keep up with the latest industry developments. The top organizations for biotechnology professionals include:

Financing Your Online Master’s in Biotechnology Degree

Online degree programs are typically more affordable than on-campus programs, but you still may need help paying for your education. To access assistance, your first step should be filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), as this will determine your eligibility for federally funded loans and grants. You may also be eligible for scholarships from nonprofit organizations and private companies.

Student Finance Resources and Guides

There are so many financing options available that it can be challenging to determine what you should do next after submitting your FAFSA. The resources listed below will help you make sense of your financial aid situation and save as much money as possible.

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Interested in a degree?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.