Online Master’s Programs in Molecular Biology & Diagnostic Science

The study of living things is known as biology, and the fundamental unit of life is the cell. Every living organism—an animal, a plant, or a fungus—is made of microscopic building blocks that function similarly.

While microbiology is the scientific study of microorganisms and their activities, molecular biology is the study of cells—their structure and their function—across all biological interactions between biomolecules in various cell systems. Molecular biology overlaps with biochemistry and genetics but also focuses on regulating DNA, RNA, and proteins.

By learning how these parts interact with each other, scientists can understand the role of genetic material and how to identify, treat, and prevent different diseases. Although there are several applications for molecular biology, its use in diagnostic science is invaluable.

Medical biology is the cornerstone of modern healthcare, and molecular medicine is a broad field where scientists prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases at the molecular level. For example, Dr. Scott Hultgren, a molecular biologist, and professor from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is working to develop a precision-oriented treatment for urinary tract infections through molecular biology, according to The Daily Beast. He and his team have honed in on a tiny molecule that may be one of the causes of urinary tract infections and are developing a treatment that would only target that molecule, called a precision antimicrobial.

However, molecular biology has many other applications outside of healthcare, such as producing protein-based products. By understanding the genetic makeup of certain plants and animals, scientists can work with farmers to grow healthier and nutritionally efficient food.

An education in molecular biology and diagnostic science can lead to a career in several fields, including biomedicine, biotechnology, academia, healthcare, clinical laboratories, public health, pharmacology, government agencies, and more.

Find out the benefits of earning an online master’s degree in molecular biology and diagnostic science, learn about common coursework in these types of programs, and read about three distinguished professors who are leaders in related academic concentrations.

Featured Online Programs in Molecular Biology & Diagnostic Science

Arizona State University

Arizona State University offers a 30-credit, ten-class program for students to earn a master of science in biomedical diagnostics. Students in this program are taught about the vital role diagnostics plays in every facet of the healthcare system. The curriculum covers key topics in the technology and science of diagnostics and current policy issues, regulatory matters, health economics, and more. The curriculum can be completed entirely online within one year, with each class lasting 7.5 weeks.

Graduates typically move on to careers in research and development, clinical laboratory and research support and management, quality systems, and more. Although the GRE is not required, applicants are expected to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, official transcripts, and two letters of recommendation.

Some of the courses in the curriculum include current perspectives in biomedical diagnostics; health economics, policy and payment models; introduction to biomedical informatics; principles of diagnostic technology: immunoassays; principles of diagnostic technology: molecular diagnostics; regulation of medical diagnostics; applied bioethics; biomedical commercialization; and imaging in diagnostics, among others.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Format: Online
  • Expected Time to Completion: One year
  • Estimated Tuition: $841 per credit

George Washington University

Individuals who want to work in clinical diagnostic laboratories, public health, and biotechnology can take the 35-credit program to earn a master of science in health sciences (MSHS) in molecular diagnostic science. The program provides students with the practical experience and skills required to solve complex clinical pathology and molecular diagnostics issues. Combining diagnostic genetics, molecular diagnostics, and biotechnology coursework with real-world clinical rotation experiences, the program prepares students for the Molecular Biology Board of Certification examination by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

The curriculum includes courses such as biostatistics for clinical and translational research; microbial pathogenesis; medical biotechnology; genetics; molecular biology; advanced laboratory management and operations; molecular pathology; research ethics and integrity; current topics in MLS; a molecular diagnostics practicum; and a capstone project. Clinical laboratory experience students may be eligible to waive individual clinical practicum requirements.

Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree in basic or medical science from a regionally accredited institution, a completed application, a GPA of 3.0, a written personal statement, a current resume, two letters of recommendation, and official transcripts from every college and university attended.

Graduates can take up roles such as molecular laboratory scientists, biotechnology or government research associates, public health laboratory scientists, and MLT/MLS teaching positions.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Format: Online with one in-person practicum
  • Expected Time to Completion: About two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $990 per credit

Lehigh University

This Pennsylvania-based institution offers a 30-credit master of science in molecular biology program for students interested in biotechnology and biomedicine. The curriculum includes eight required biology and biochemistry courses and a selection of electives. All courses can be completed online or at a distance learning site. The program was specifically designed for highly focused part-time students. Although the GRE is not required for admission, a bachelor’s degree in life sciences or chemistry and a 3.0 GPA are prerequisites.

The curriculum includes courses such as molecular genetics; principles of biochemistry; elements of biochemistry; advanced cell biology; molecular cell biology; techniques in cell and molecular biology; immunology; development and disease; and behavioral neuroscience.

  • Location: Bethlehem, PA
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Format: Online
  • Expected Time to Completion: About two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,500 per credit

Northern Michigan University

Northern Michigan University offers an online master of science program in clinical molecular diagnostics (CMD), providing rigorous graduate-level education for clinical laboratory scientists and biologists in the field of molecular diagnostics. The program has two tracks to choose from: one for currently working professionals, and another for those looking to go into clinical instruction.

With interactive web-based courses and a week-long on-campus laboratory experience that is required for thesis only, the program’s flexible curriculum allows students to complete the program through distance or on-campus courses. Notably, the program’s track 1 allows students to select between an infectious disease or human genetics concentration.

Applicants to the program must have a bachelor’s degree in clinical laboratory science or related science with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and laboratory experience. Transcripts of applicants will be evaluated on an individual basis.

As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as the principle of clinical molecular genetics; clinical molecular diagnostic techniques; clinical genetics; measurement and evaluation; psychology of evaluation; molecular identification of bacterial pathogens; method verification and validation; curriculum development; and biomedical lab operations. The program comprises 33 credits.

  • Location: Marquette, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Format: Online; a week-long on-campus laboratory experience required for thesis only
  • Expected Time to Completion: Five semesters
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,035 per credit

Drexel University

Drexel University’s online master of science program in molecular medicine provides extensive training in practical and academic biotechnology knowledge in translational research, particularly in the areas of vaccine development and molecular therapeutics. With both full-time and part-time options, the program encompasses fundamental requirements for establishing a sound grounding in biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, and genetics. The program requires a research internship in the summer session of the first or second year.

To get accepted into the program, applicants must have a four-year chemistry or biology-based BS or BA degree, with undergraduate coursework in microbiology, biology, chemistry, immunology, mathematics, biochemistry, or other related subjects. A GPA of 3.0 is required.

This 36-credit program includes courses such as responsible conduct of research; biomedical ethics; biostatistics; applied statistics for biomedical sciences; immunology, immunopathology, and infectious diseases; bacteria and bacterial infections; principles of biocontainment; advanced molecular virology; molecular genetics; mycology and fungal infections; and parasitology and parasitic diseases, among others.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Format: Online
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,777 per credit

Michigan State University

Michigan State University’s College of Natural Science offers a biomedical laboratory diagnostics program that has three graduate program options: a master’s of arts in biomedical laboratory science, a master’s of science in clinical laboratory science, and a master of science in biomedical laboratory operations. Each program comprises 30 to 31 credits and can be completed entirely online. These programs prepare students to advance in their careers and become leaders within the medical laboratory profession.

The curriculum includes courses such as communication in the sciences; fundamentals of scientific research; managing biomedical laboratory operations; decision processes for biomedical laboratory operations; cell biology in health and disease; concepts in molecular biology; clinical application of molecular biology; and hemostasis, thrombosis and effective resource management, among others.

  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Format: Online
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: Michigan resident ($841.75 per credit); non-Michigan resident ($1,078.75 per credit)

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health offers an online master of arts program in public health biology ideal for experienced professionals. This is an interdepartmental program that is led by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with active participation from the Departments of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology and Environmental Health and Engineering. Students in this program receive concrete training for mastering biology topics that are relevant to public health.

The program’s 48.5 credit curriculum includes courses such as public health biology; biological basis of public health; concepts of molecular biology; nucleic acid chemistry; introduction to cancer biology; fundamentals of immunology; malariology; introduction to the biomedical sciences; anatomy of scientific error; and molecular toxicology, among others.

Graduates can take up roles such as natural resources biologists, laboratory managers, life and physical science technicians, biological science laboratory technicians, research biologists, healthcare administration project managers, biology educators, and college instructors.

  • Location: Baltimore, MD
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two to three years
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,321 per credit

University of Missouri (Related)

University of Missouri’s online master of health science program in clinical and diagnostic sciences is designed for practicing clinicians in diagnostic medical ultrasound, clinical or medical laboratory science, nuclear medicine, respiratory therapy, or radiography. With a blend of discipline-specific classes and interprofessional classes, this program prepares students for effective leadership roles in interprofessional workplace environments. This fully online program does not require any campus visits.

The program comprises 30 credits and includes courses such as clinical analysis; clinical management; clinical leadership; principles of public health; human health and the environment; principles of epidemiology; and current issues in the clinical and diagnostic sciences, among others.

  • Location: Columbia, MO
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $575 per credit

Liberty University

Liberty University offers an online medical master’s program in molecular biology and medicine, providing students with an advanced understanding of topics such as immunology, anatomy, and biomedical ethics. Students in this online program will be required to visit Liberty University’s School of Medicine in Lynchburg, Virginia, for two intensive laboratory courses that will allow them to interact personally with professors and other students.

Comprising 34 credits, the program includes courses such as foundations of medical anatomy; foundations of biomedical sciences; principles of cellular biology; principles of medical genetics; principles of physiology; fundamentals of neuroscience; pathogens & human diseases; and principles of immunobiology.

Graduates will be ready for positions such as healthcare consultants, quality assurance managers, and infection control practitioners, among many such roles.

  • Location: Lynchburg, VA
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: One to two years
  • Estimated Tuition: $565 per credit

Rutgers University (Related)

Rutgers University’s master of business and science degree with a concentration in biotechnology and genomics educates and equips students with the tools and skills necessary for managing technical development and commercial applications in the areas of molecular biological sciences, including genomics and proteomics, biotechnology, cell biology, biochemistry, nanobiotechnology, and systems biology for application in diverse industries such as healthcare, personal care, pharmaceutical development, alternative energy, agriculture, nanotechnology, and environmental monitoring and restoration.

The curriculum includes courses such as fundamentals of biological chemistry in the biotech industry; concepts in biotechnology & genomics; bioinformatics; ethics in science and technology management; nextgen biotechnology & genomics; and principles of accounting and finance for science and technology.

  • Location: Piscataway, NJ
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two to four years years
  • Estimated Tuition: $900 per credit

Professors to Know in Online Molecular Biology & Diagnostic Science Programs

Dr. Marcia Firmani holds several positions at George Washington University, including a director of the medical laboratory sciences program, chair of the department of biomedical laboratory sciences, the director of the clinical microbiology and molecular diagnostic sciences graduate programs, and an associate professor of biomedical laboratory sciences.

Having more than 20 years of experience in research and teaching, Dr. Firmani teaches and directs several courses within the BLS department, such as molecular diagnostics, clinical bacteriology, plagues, pandemics & epidemics, and molecular epidemiology. She completed her PhD from the University of California, an MSPH from Tulane University, and a BS from Marist College.

Dr. Gary Ketner is a molecular microbiology and immunology professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. He teaches or has taught courses such as public health biology; the biological basis of public health; biology of the next pandemic; and pandemics of the 20th century. His research interests include eukaryotic molecular biology, adenoviruses, viral genetics, gene expression, vaccines, and DNA repair.

Dr. Ketner studies the fundamental molecular biology of DNA. he completed his PhD from Stanford University and a BS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Vassie Ware is a professor of molecular biology at Lehigh University. She is also co-director of the HHMI bioscience program. Her current research includes studying components of ribosomal RNAs and proteins, specializing in the differences in ribosome composition and biogenesis in several organisms and ribosomal paralogue expression within different tissue types.

Dr. Ware has worked at Lehigh University for more than 30 years and has made it her mission to mentor and inspire students, especially those underrepresented in the STEM discipline.

Farheen Gani
Farheen Gani Writer

Farheen Gani has immense knowledge about medical technology schools, having researched topics such as medical billing and coding, health information management, nursing informatics, and biotechnology degree programs since 2018. She is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about healthcare, technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).