Best Online Master’s in Biotechnology Programs

Want to work as a pharmaceutical developer or genetic scientist? Jumpstart a high-paying career by learning about the best online master's in biotechnology programs of 2021.
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Biotechnology is a rapidly growing scientific field that involves transforming living organisms and biological systems into useful products like medicine, fuel, and even beer. As biotechnology continues to evolve, society may gain the knowledge and tools to cure deadly diseases instead of simply treating their symptoms.

This guide helps you prepare for a career as an agricultural engineer, product development manager, or microbiologist by offering information about the best online master's in biotechnology programs of 2021. Read on to learn about admission requirements, learning objectives, and course offerings. The guide then explores five major career paths and ends with answers to frequently asked questions.

What Are the Best Online Master's in Biotechnology Programs? Here Are Our Top 5:

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#1 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
#2 Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY
#3 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
#4 George Washington University Washington, DC
#5 Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH

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Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our Ranking Methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Biotechnology Programs

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Best Online Master's in Biotechnology Programs

  1. Johns Hopkins University

    Baltimore, MD

    Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins' online master's in biotechnology program prepares candidates for careers in areas like forensic science, epidemiology, and food science. The degree also serves as a foundation for medical school or advanced studies in life sciences.

    Students must complete four core courses, including molecular biology and advanced cell biology, as well as six electives. Candidates may also select one of six concentrations, such as biodefense, molecular targets and drug discovery technologies, or regenerative and stem cell technologies.

    To apply, individuals must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also have completed two semesters of biology, chemistry, and organic chemistry. Other application materials include a resume, a statement of purpose, and official transcripts.

    Johns Hopkins is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  2. Columbia University in the City of New York

    New York, NY

    The curriculum of Columbia's online master of science in biomedical engineering combines applied engineering and biological and physical sciences to address issues related to biomechanics, cell and tissue engineering, and biomedical imaging challenges.

    The 30-credit curriculum focuses on core classes, math classes, and biomedical engineering electives. Courses include quantitative and qualitative physiology, tissue engineering, and cardiac mechanics.

    Applicants should hold an undergraduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA in engineering, science, mathematics, computer science, or a related field. Submission materials include recommendation letters, transcripts, GRE scores, and a personal statement.

    Columbia is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Champaign, IL



    Located in Champaign, U of I's online master of engineering in bioengineering may appeal to professionals interested in advancing into technical and managerial careers in the healthcare industry. Graduates develop bioengineering technical skills and big-picture business perspectives, training to find creative solutions to complex problems.

    The 32-credit program consists of bioengineering coursework, combined with electives and professional development classes. Students select a concentration in bioinstrumentation or general bioengineering. The curriculum features seminars and independent study opportunities. To round out their studies, students also complete a team-based capstone project.

    Program applicants must hold a bachelor's degree in engineering, science, or a related discipline and have a minimum 3.0 GPA over their last two years of study. Application materials include recommendation letters and a personal essay.

    U of I is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  4. George Washington University

    Washington, DC

    GW's online master of science in health sciences with a concentration in immunohematology and biotechnology provides certified blood bankers with a solid foundation in immunohematology, molecular biology, and biotechnology. As more working labs replace traditional technologies with molecular-based tests, the skills developed in this program should become increasingly important.

    Participants complete a total of 35 credits, studying medical biotechnology, advanced immunology and serology, leadership in laboratory medicine, and genetics. A capstone allows students to apply their knowledge in an independent, mentored project.

    Applicants must submit transcripts, a statement of purpose, and two recommendations. However, standardized test scores are not required.

    Located in Washington, D.C., GW is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  5. Case Western Reserve University

    Cleveland, OH

    CWRU's online master of science in biomedical engineering focuses on topics related to imaging, neural engineering, and biomaterials. The Case School of Engineering and the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine jointly host this program.

    The 30-credit curriculum features biomedical engineering and engineering core courses, as well as technical electives. Classes include cellular and molecular physiology, quantitative analysis of physiological systems, medical imaging fundamentals, and translational research.

    Applicants must hold an undergraduate or graduate degree in engineering, natural sciences, or mathematical sciences with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Undergraduate preparation coursework should include courses in physics, chemistry, and math, as well as a programming class. GRE scores are also required.

    CWRU — based in Cleveland, Ohio — is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

What Can I Expect From an Online Master's in Biotechnology Program?

The best online master's in biotechnology programs teach students to apply scientific knowledge in professional research, business enterprise, and engineering processes.

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To earn a master's in biotechnology, learners must complete at least 30 credits of coursework, practical experiences, and capstone requirements. This process takes traditional students about two years, but you can graduate more quickly by enrolling in an accelerated online program. These intensive tracks enable dedicated students to graduate in 12 months by taking seven-week classes throughout the year.

The best online master's in biotechnology programs teach students to apply scientific knowledge in professional research, business enterprise, and engineering processes. Learners take fundamental classes like cell biology and biochemistry. Students also receive extensive laboratory training and learn about the theories and laws that inform biomedical ethics.

Beyond core topics, the curriculum differs based on program objectives. Some biotechnology programs emphasize laboratory research, preparing learners for careers as scientists and engineers. Other schools focus on biobusiness, offering advanced classes in intellectual property and current manufacturing best practices.

Biotechnology students shape their curricula through their choice of electives and concentration, with options like pharmaceutical technologies, process sciences, and biotechnology management. Many schools require an internship with either a company in your local area or a university partner. Most programs culminate in a thesis or research experience.

Admission Requirements for Online Master's in Biotechnology Programs

To enroll in an online master's in biotechnology program, prospective students typically need an accredited bachelor's degree in biology earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Some graduate schools accept degrees in other fields if the applicant has a strong background in biology, chemistry, and calculus.

Prospective students demonstrate relevant experience through a statement of purpose, recommendation letters, and a current resume or CV. Some programs require or recommend GRE scores.

Check out the BestColleges graduate admissions guide for more information.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Master's in Biotechnology Program?

As an interdisciplinary discipline, biotechnology synthesizes science and engineering. Graduate students take classes like protein chemistry, experimental design, and bioprocess engineering.

Learners also delve into the business side of the biotech industry, examining laws and regulations, product development, and entrepreneurial opportunities. These programs supplement classroom learning with laboratory training and fieldwork experiences like internships.

Societal Issues in Biotechnology

This core course provides an overview of the history and development of biotechnology in the United States. Students delve into pertinent topics like biohazards, the value of public scrutiny, and legal issues from a managerial standpoint. They also examine the role government agencies play in the research, development, and commercialization of biotechnology.

Bioprocess Engineering

In this course, students examine engineering concepts related to the conversion of biological materials into food, fuel, and pharmaceutical products. Covered topics include bioenergetics, biokinetics, bioreactor design and selection, and product recovery. The course also covers best practices in manufacturing, emphasizing the role of bioprocess engineering in developing and analyzing medicine.


In this foundational course, students learn about the analytical techniques and statistical concepts commonly used in biotechnology experimental design. Covered topics include linear correlation and regression, population parameters, probability theory and distributions, and categorical data analysis. Students also develop the ability to conduct hypothesis testing for variances and proportions.


Students taking this course receive an overview of how biological agents have historically been used in society and agriculture. Learners examine case studies of major bioterrorism agent releases and resulting government responses, including state and federal quarantine powers and the Posse Comitatus Act. Degree-seekers also examine the mental health consequences of bioterrorist attacks on communities and individuals.

Biopharmaceutical Development

In this class, students learn about the major phases of drug development. These steps include early clinical trial, proof of concept, late stage clinical development, and product registration and approval. The course also covers the application of study design methods to evaluate a drug's efficacy, safety, and tolerability in different therapeutic areas.

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What Can I Do With an Online Master's in Biotechnology Degree?

Learners usually go to graduate school to either advance their current career or prepare for a new occupation. With a master's in biotechnology, graduates qualify for research-focused positions as microbiologists and medical scientists. They may also develop life-saving technologies as biomedical engineers, a career that the BLS projects to grow 5% between 2019 and 2029.

Alternatively, professionals can opt to focus on biotech in business. In this field, job opportunities include laboratory manager, biomanufacturing specialist, and director of drug commercialization

See where a master's in biotechnology degree can take you. Learn more about biotechnology careers here.


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Bioinformaticians use computational concepts and techniques to better understand biology. These scientists analyze large quantities of complex data to identify genes and genomes, as well as their relationship to the genetic basis of disease. Beyond pharmaceutical applications, bioinformatics can also be used to locate and isolate desirable properties in agricultural species.

Drug Design and Discovery

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By pursuing a drug design and discovery concentration, students prepare for careers in pharmaceutical development and regulatory affairs. BLS data shows that medical scientists who work in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing earn a median annual wage of $111,630. These scientists possess in-depth knowledge of disease mechanisms and design drugs for specific pharmaceutical targets.


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Biodefense specialists understand the potential threats of bioterrorism agents on epidemiological and microbiological levels, allowing them to detect, deter, and respond to incidents of biowarfare. In addition to helping communities create recovery plans, these professionals assist government agencies with policy development. The biodefense field includes epidemiologists, chemical defense scientists, and emergency management directors.

Regenerative and Stem Cell Technologies

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These biotechnologists use their expert knowledge of cell and gene therapies to oversee research and development projects for clinical and industry laboratories. They also create regenerative technologies that can repair and replace damaged organs through tissue engineering processes. To succeed in this emerging field, professionals also need to understand the current state of the biotech industry and how to bring regenerative medicine products to market.

Agricultural Biotechnology

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The agritech industry involves using biotechnological tools like molecular diagnostics and genetic engineering to augment animals, plants, and microorganisms. Professionals in this field modify living organisms to be more resilient to disease or to propagate at a faster rate, making products like corn, canola, and soybean more profitable for farmers and less expensive for consumers.

Biotechnology Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Biotechnology Programs

Is a master's in biotechnology worth it?

The value of an online master's in biotechnology depends on each student's academic background and professional goals. Biotech is among the most innovative and fastest growing industries in the United States, providing career opportunities in IT, agriculture, and national security. The size of the biotech market will grow 9.9% between 2019 and 2025, according to Global Market Insights.

What can I do with a master's in biotechnology?

By earning a master's in biotechnology, professionals can pursue research-focused occupations as microbiologists, biomedical engineers, and biochemists. They may work on the forefront of national security as epidemiologists, helping communities defend against and recover from bioterrorist attacks. Alternatively, biotech professionals can use their business skills through careers in biomanufacturing management and quality assurance.

Is microbiology better than biotechnology?

Microbiology and biotechnology are interconnected, each field borrowing concepts and techniques from the other. However, microbiology is the study of microorganisms and their impact on specific microbial and industrial processes. Biotechnology is a broader discipline that, in addition to preparing students for research careers, prepares learners for IT and business management positions.

How much money can I make with a master's in biotechnology?

According to PayScale, the average annual salary for professionals who have a master of science in biotechnology is $70,430. Wages differ between occupations, with manufacturing production managers earning $72,210 and biomedical engineers making $91,410 each year. Salary potential depends on factors like geographic location, employer, and individual qualifications.

The best wages in the biotech industry are reserved for experienced researchers and company leaders. Senior research scientists enjoy an average annual salary of $105,090. Production management directors earn approximately $146,260 each year, with the opportunity to garner as much as $210,000 when adding profit shares, commissions, and bonuses. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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