Biotechnological research and innovation results in useful products and skills that can be used in forensic crime analysis, genetic rejuvenation, renewable fuels, and life-saving medicine. Scientists in this field analyze and manipulate living systems, such as vegetal and animal organisms, to advance research in their subfield or specialization. Students in online master's in biotechnology programs synthesize areas such as chemistry, biology, engineering, and computer technology.

A master's degree in biotechnology provides knowledge and skills necessary to pursue careers in industries such as environmental conservation, pharmaceutical development, agricultural engineering, and food safety. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs in biochemistry and biophysics will increase 11% by 2026, faster than the national average.

What are the best biotechnology programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

Rank School Location
1 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
2 Columbia University New York, NY
3 Worcester Polytechnic Institute Worcester, MA
4 University of Washington Seattle, WA
5 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
6 George Washington University Washington, DC
7 Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH
8 Purdue University West Lafayette, IN
9 Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO
10 University of Maryland Global Campus Adelphi, MD

What are the Best Online Master's in Biotechnology Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 93%

Johns Hopkins University — located in Baltimore, Maryland — is a leading research university that offers an online master's degree in biotechnology. The 10-course program is designed to give students a comprehensive understanding of biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, genomics, and proteomics.

The program is thesis-optional and takes 12-24 months to complete, depending on a student's enrollment status. The program offers six concentrations: biodefense, bioinformatics, biotechnology enterprise, drug discovery, regenerative and stem cell technologies, and regulatory affairs.

Applications are accepted throughout the year, giving students the ability to enroll in the summer, fall, or spring. Johns Hopkins recommends applying at least six weeks prior to your desired start date.


Columbia University

New York, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 96%

New York City's Columbia University takes an interdisciplinary approach to its master's in biomedical engineering online program. Coursework covers neuroscience, cell and tissue engineering, biomechanics, and quantitative physiology.

The 30-credit program consists of nine biomedical engineering core credits, three applied mathematics credits, six biomedical engineering elective credits, and 12 free elective credits. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5 and are required to complete all courses within five years.Competitive applicants should submit GRE scores and hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students also need one year of coursework related to calculus, biology, chemistry, and physics.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 87%

Located in Worcester, Massachusetts, Worcester Polytechnic Institute's online master's in biotechnology program takes a skills-focused approach, providing students with the practical training needed for careers in biotech. While most courses are available online, some courses require on-site lab sessions, including virology, bioinformatics, medical and applied immunology, genetic engineering and gene expression, and animal cell culture.

WPI maintains multiple support systems for online students, including online orientation videos that prepare incoming students for coursework and scheduling. At the outset of the program, students work with student success mentors to help plan their degree paths. The school's career center assists currently enrolled and recent graduates with resumes and cover letters, interview training, and professional workshops.To qualify for this master's in biotechnology program, students should hold a BS in a field related to life sciences or an engineering bachelor's with a concentration in life sciences. Applications are accepted throughout the year.


University of Washington

Seattle, WA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 84%

The University of Washington offers an online master's in pharmaceutical bioengineering that explores molecular and cellular biology, drug discovery and design, and pharmaceutics. The 38-credit program is designed to prepare graduates for practical careers in biotechnology.

The program culminates with a six-credit capstone course where students produce a research project for their professional portfolio. Full-time students typically complete the program in two years, though part-time students take longer.Applicants should submit GRE scores, unofficial transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. While UW prioritizes applicants with degrees in related disciplines, it does not require a related degree for admission. However, applicants with a BS in an unrelated field need two years of related professional work experience.


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 84%

The online master of engineering in bioengineering program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers three concentrations: bioinstrumentation, computational genomics, and general bioengineering. This fully online program requires 32 credits and can be completed in five semesters.Instructors deliver all courses synchronously, meaning students must log on at specific times. Students can go online to access recorded lectures, assignments, exams, and projects. Instructors are also available for virtual office hours to provide further assistance and clarification.Applicants must have a BS degree and a minimum GPA of 3.0. They should also submit three letters of recommendation and a personal statement. Students who do not meet the minimum GPA requirement may be considered for limited status admission.


George Washington University

Washington, DC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 82%

Located in Washington, D.C., George Washington University offers an online master of science in health sciences in immunohematology and biotechnology. The program focuses on studying human immunologic reactions while also incorporating a foundation in molecular biology and biotechnology.This non-clinical MSHS program comprises 35 credits and can be completed in two years. The program culminates in a capstone project, in which students demonstrate an understanding of their coursework through a mentored project.

Admission requirements include a statement of purpose, a minimum 3.0 GPA, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts from all attended colleges and universities. Applicants should also hold a national certification as a blood-banking technologist or the professional equivalent.


Case Western Reserve University

Cleveland, OH Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 85%

Case Western Reserve University — located in Cleveland, Ohio — is a leading private research institution. The school offers an online master of science in biomedical engineering. Founded in 1968, this MS program was one of the first in the world and hosts multiple National Institutes of Health training grants for biomedical engineering graduate students.Classes are available entirely online, and instructors deliver coursework asynchronously. The program's core courses include quantitative analysis of physiological systems, cellular and molecular physiology, and biomedical instrumentation and sign processing.The program consists of 10 courses and can be completed in 18 months. Admission requirements include GRE scores, a personal statement, two letters of recommendation, and a bachelor's degree. A bachelor of science in engineering is preferred, though it is not required.


Purdue University

West Lafayette, IN Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 81%

The master's in biotechnology innovation and regulatory science program at Purdue University uses a hybrid delivery format. The program includes four semesters of online coursework and 12 on-campus sessions. This degree requires 30 credit hours and can be completed in 22 months.This program covers topics such as drug development, innovation and strategy in biotechnology, and regulatory practices. Following the completion of their first semester, students develop a plan of study with an advisory committee.The program accepts applications throughout the year, allowing students to enroll in the spring, summer, or fall. On-campus weekend dates are predetermined and mandatory for all students.


Colorado State University

Fort Collins, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 71%

Colorado State University in Fort Collins offers an online master's in biomedical engineering. The program takes 1-2 years and explores the structure and function of biomaterials, material issues in mechanical design, and design and data analysis.The program comprises 30 credits, covering core, foundation, depth, and breadth area categories. Students can take classes to enhance their knowledge in a particular field or specialty area, such as applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, and material issues in mechanical design.All applicants should have a BS in engineering, life sciences, or natural sciences from an accredited institution. Official transcripts should demonstrate a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and classes in calculus I-III, ordinary differential equations, physics I-II, and at least one semester of life science.


University of Maryland Global Campus

Adelphi, MD Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 15%

The online master's degree in biotechnology offered by the University of Maryland Global Campus features four specializations: bioinformatics, biosecurity and biodefense, biotechnology management, and biotechnology regulatory affairs. Combining science and technology with a business approach, this program requires students to complete a project with an actual biotech company, helping them gain practical experience.

This master's in biotechnology program is available entirely online and typically takes two years to complete. While the number of courses varies depending on a student's specialization, each concentration requires 36 total credits.

Applicants must have a background in molecular biology to start the program. Students with an unrelated bachelor's degree who wish to enroll must complete a college-level molecular biology course during their first term.

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

Colleges and universities must meet certain academic standards to maintain accreditation. However, online biotechnology master's programs differ greatly in outcomes. Some programs focus on general biotechnology, and others specialize in areas such as pharmaceutical bioengineering or immunohematology. Carefully research each potential program to determine whether the curriculum fits your academic and professional goals.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Biotechnology

  • Molecular Biology: A mainstay of biotechnology master's programs, this course covers key concepts including DNA replication, nucleic acid structure and function, chromosome structure, and the regulation of gene expression. This course provides fundamental training for all aspiring biotechnology professionals, especially those who plan to work as researchers in laboratory environments.
  • Bioethics: Students explore philosophical notions of the moral good, which they apply to case studies and critical issues in the field. Topics include conflicts of interest, peer review, organ transplantation, use of research animals, human experimentation, and in vitro fertilization. This course prepares students for positions working with living subjects.
  • Fermentation Biology: This course examines the biological and microbiological systems that transform waste products into useful chemicals. Students explore physiological processes and learn how to conduct conversions in efficient and biologically sustainable ways. Laboratory work includes implementation of bench-scale design and microbial measurements. This course is especially beneficial for students who plan to enter the biofuel and food science fields.
  • Statistical Processes for Biotechnology: Students learn techniques used in research testing. Learners study motif sequences in genetic expression and regulation and the analysis of sequence homology using information theoretic indices. Students learn to use statistical tools, such as Fourier analysis, long-range correlation, and Markov and Bayesian processes. Learners are prepared for roles as agricultural scientists and biotechnologists, whose work involves number models.
  • Drug Discovery and Design: Students analyze case studies to understand general approaches to modern drug discovery, including aspects of human biology and disease. The course explores federal laws concerning testing and patent, new discovery techniques, and emergent therapeutics. Coursework prepares students for positions in pharmaceutical development.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master's in Biotechnology?

Most online master's in biotechnology programs require at least 30 credits and take about two years to complete. Because biotechnology is an interdisciplinary field, required coursework varies widely and affects degree completion time. Most online programs deliver classes asynchronously, but some require synchronous laboratory courses.

Some online programs use a cohort structure; students take one class at a time and progress through coursework with a small group of peers. Cohort programs are ideal for working professionals and those with personal commitments, but they generally take longer to complete than individually paced programs. Students who want to graduate quickly should look for programs that offer remote classes, summer terms, and generous credit transfer policies. You may also want to prioritize online biotechnology master's programs that allow you to complete practicum, internship, and capstone experiences locally.

Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Biotechnology Prepares For

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Certification

To become a certified engineer, candidates must past two exams from NCEES: the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, which costs $175, and the Principles and Practices of Engineering exam, the fee for which varies by state. Both exams are available in various disciplines, including chemical and biological engineering.

Center for Professional Innovation and Education (CfPIE) Certification

CfPIE offers numerous professional certifications in the biotechnology and related subfields, including biopharmaceutical development; chemistry, manufacturing, and controls; and medical writing. The certification process requires specialized education, skill training, and an exam. Certification costs $1,950-$2,650, and discounts are available to qualifying candidates. Unlike other professional certificates and licenses, CfPIE accreditation does not expire.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Biotechnology Degrees

When researching online biotechnology master's programs, look for colleges and universities with national or regional accreditation, preferably both. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee agencies that award national accreditation to institutions that meet certain academic standards.

Six organizations recognized by the ED and CHEA award regional accreditation. These accrediting agencies ensure colleges and universities meet standards for curricular outcomes and institutional goals. Employers generally prefer graduates of regionally accredited institutions. However, enrolling in a school that holds both national and regional accreditation ensures your degree will be universally recognized. Master's in biotechnology programs may also hold specialized accreditation from field-specific organizations, such as the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

The ED ensures schools adhere to federal regulations in return for lobbying privileges and funding. CHEA is a private, nonprofit organization with more than 3,000 member institutions that must meet the council's standards for academic programming and professional development. Member schools enjoy institutional support, including policy advocacy, research and education initiatives, and financial incentives. Visit the ED and CHEA websites for lists of accredited online biotechnology master's programs.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Biotechnology Graduates

Master's in Biotechnology Salary

The table below highlights five potential careers for graduates of biotechnology master's programs. Generally, salaries for professionals with a master's in biotechnology increase with professional experience. Because biotechnologists work in diverse industries, certain positions require specific training and certification or licensure. Additionally, professionals pursuing high-ranking leadership positions typically need a doctoral degree.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Median Salary for Mid-Career Median Salary for Late-Career
Microbiologist $51,444 $47,118 $57,082 $67,656
Biochemist $58,628 $55,000 $65,000 $70,000
Epidemiologist $61,723 $58,224 $72,596 $96,938
Biomedical Engineer $63,972 $62,135 $77,203 $81,327
Medical Writer $70,760 $68,440 $79,961 $96,102

Master's in Biotechnology Careers

After earning a master's in biotechnology, graduates can pursue professional opportunities in diverse industries, such as agriculture and biomedical engineering. Biotechnologists study and synthesize living systems to expand human understanding and to create products that improve quality of life. These professionals need expert knowledge of cell systems and chemical reactions and advanced skills to apply this understanding to complex analyses. Biotechnologists often pursue self-directed work as laboratory technicians or collaborate as part of research and development teams.

Biomedical Engineer

These professionals work predominantly in the healthcare industry. They use biotechnology knowledge and engineering skills to design and implement devices, equipment, software, and hardware systems. Many biomedical engineers work as researchers and on development teams to ensure new products and services meet company standards and improve patient care. Though some biomedical engineers have only a bachelor's degree, many positions require a master's of biotechnology.

Median Annual Salary: $85,620
Projected Growth Rate: 7%

Food Scientist

These biotechnologists conduct research to improve the quality and efficiency of agricultural products and establishments, including small-scale animal husbandry and industrial farming operations. Food scientists often lead teams that develop horticulture methods and assess safety standards. These professionals must have at least a bachelor's degree, but many food scientists earn a master's.

Median Annual Salary: $62,920
Projected Growth Rate: 7%


These scientists study microorganisms -- such as fungi, algae, parasites, viruses, and bacteria -- to understand how they live, evolve, and interact with their environments, including living hosts. These professionals must have extensive laboratory testing experience and computer analysis skills. Microbiologists work in diverse industries, including health science and industrial settings. Most microbiologists earn at least a master's of biotechnology, and some pursue a Ph.D. to teach at the university level.

Median Annual Salary: $66,850
Projected Growth Rate: 8%

Wildlife Biologist

Also known as zoologists, these professionals monitor and conduct human examinations of animals to understand physical characteristics, behavior, and how animals interact with ecosystems. Wildlife biologists need expertise in modeling software and geographic information systems used to track migration patterns and human impact on wildlife populations. Entry-level wildlife biologists need only a bachelor's degree, but high-level positions require a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary: $60,520
Projected Growth Rate: 8%


These professionals examine the physical and chemical properties of living organisms along with disease, heredity, cell growth, and other biological processes. Biochemists and physicists work in diverse industries and apply research to develop effective drugs, medical treatments, food products, and biofuels. Most positions require a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary: $82,180
Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Professional Organizations

Students in online biotechnology master's programs can benefit from membership in professional organizations. Many professional organizations require an annual fee, but members have access to support, networking opportunities, research grants, and career resources and job boards. Professional organizations connect students and professionals in the field, fostering shared knowledge and collaboration.

Financing Your Online Master's in Biotechnology Program

When researching online master's degree in biotechnology programs that align with your professional interests and goals, consider affordability and funding options. Begin by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine whether you qualify for federal scholarships, grants, work-study programs, and loans. Also apply for awards from professional and community organizations, such as Graduate Women in Science and the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.


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