Online Master’s in Biotechnology Programs

As its name implies, biotechnology is the combination of biology and technology. The Biotechnology Innovation Organization defines biotechnology as technology that is based on biology, meaning that innovations in biotechnology are inspired by cellular and biomolecular processes in order to improve the health of humans, animals, and the planet at large. These sustainable practices can include reducing energy consumption, facilitating cleaner energy production, offering food security solutions, and creating more efficient industrial manufacturing processes.

Adult learners who pursue a master’s degree in biotechnology have many opportunities to specialize in one or several areas. Bioinformatics is especially popular as it combines biology with math and computer science. Students learn how to analyze code, work with big data, and deal with next-generation sequencing as they use algorithms, mathematical modeling, and biostatistics to solve complex health and ecological problems.

Students can also specialize in biodefense, which prepares them to respond to biosecurity threats by using technology to analyze and detect them. A biotechnology management specialization teaches graduate students advanced skills in marketing, financial analysis, and business management, while deepening their understanding of molecular science. And biotechnology regulatory affairs students can become experts on the lifecycle of biotechnology products, enabling them to improve safety and quality of new medical technology.

The above represents only four of the many specializations available within the field of biotechnology. Read on to discover what to expect from an online master’s degree in biotechnology.

Admissions Requirements

While every school has slightly different admissions requirements, the following are common for biotechnology master’s degree programs:

  • Bachelor’s degree in a field related to engineering or biology
  • 3.0 or better grade point average in previous college coursework
  • One to three letters of recommendation from previous college professors or supervisors
  • Official transcripts from previous colleges attended
  • Statement of purpose for enrolling in the program
  • Prerequisite courses in several scientific disciplines

Featured Online Biotechnology Master’s Degree Programs

Duquesne University

The biotechnology graduate degree program at Duquesne University provides advanced scientific training in product research, medical devices, regulatory affairs, and commercial research. The faculty consists of experts in the biomedical industry. Examples of coursework in this program include biotechnology product development, bioanalytical chemistry, cell and molecular biology, and ethics in biotechnology. This hybrid program of online instruction and on-campus visits requires 33 credits. Students should expect to complete a final capstone project.

  • Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two to three years
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,312 per credit

George Washington University

This program is geared toward people who already work with blood banking. It provides them with a thorough foundation in biotechnology, molecular biology, and immunohematology. Students acquire practical skills and theoretical knowledge needed for research positions in transfusion medicine at blood centers or hospitals. The program was developed to accommodate shifts in laboratory technology towards molecular testing methods. Examples of required core courses include advanced immunology and serology, molecular biology, genetics, research biostatistics, and advanced laboratory management. Students also complete six elective courses.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two to three years
  • Estimated Tuition: $925 per credit

Johns Hopkins University

This part-time online program provides an in-depth exploration of applied, basic, and laboratory science with an industry focus. Some of the specific courses include biochemistry, cell biology, genomics, molecular biology, and proteomics. A thesis paper is optional. The rigorous and multi-disciplinary curriculum prepares graduates to lead laboratory teams, head marketing teams, work in management, apply research modalities, and much more. Students can choose from one of six specialties: biodefense, bioinformatics, biotechnology enterprise, drug discovery, regenerative and stem cell technologies, and regulatory affairs.

  • Location: Baltimore, Maryland
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Up to five years
  • Estimated Tuition: $4,322 per course

Northeastern University

The online master of science biotechnology degree program at Northeastern University combines training from biology, biotechnology, pharmaceutical science, and chemical engineering to provide students with a broad range of advanced scientific and business skills. Students have the option to choose one of five specialty concentrations: molecular biotechnology, biopharmaceutical analytical sciences, process sciences, pharmaceutical technologies, or biotechnology enterprise. All biotechnology students take the same core courses first followed by courses in the chosen specialty. Online programs require students to attend an intensive two-week lab at either the Silicon Valley or Boston campus locations.

  • Location: Seattle, Washington
  • Accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two to three years
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,455 per credit

Purdue University (Hybrid)

This hybrid program, which includes online learning and an on-campus requirement of three weekends per semester, prepares students for a career in biotechnology, medical devices, or pharmaceuticals in less than two years. Some of the specific courses include global leadership and ethics, project and risk management, drug development and regulatory practices, medical devices and diagnostics, quality management and regulatory compliance, and advanced manufacturing. Students complete 33 credits over four semesters to earn their degree. They also work on a directed project to improve an existing operational, business, or technical process.

  • Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
  • Accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
  • Expected Time to Completion: 22 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,000 per credit-hour for Indiana residents; $1,030 for non-residents

University of Maryland Global Campus

One of the key features of this program is the opportunity for students to complete a hands-on project with a local biotechnology company as well as a symposia conducted by industry leaders. Students who don’t have a previous background in molecular biology need to complete an introductory course at the start of the program. This school offers four specializations, including bioinformatics, biosecurity and biodefense, biotechnology management, and biotechnology regulatory affairs. Some of the core courses for all specializations include societal issues in biotechnology, techniques of biotechnology, and bioprocessing.

  • Location: Largo, Maryland
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two to three years
  • Estimated Tuition: $458 per credit in-state; $659 per credit out-of-state

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Hybrid)

Students may complete all but the laboratory coursework for this program online. Lab sessions take place at the school’s Worcester, Massachusetts location during hours convenient for working professionals. The program emphasizes practical skills and doesn’t require a thesis. Earning the degree requires the completion of 30 credit-hours, 15 of which need to come from biotechnology and biology courses. Examples of skills-based courses include fermentation biology, scale-up of bioprocessing, protein purification, animal cell culture, and genetic engineering. Students also complete electives in business and chemistry. These electives can come from non-biotechnology programs such as biomedical engineering.

  • Location: Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Accreditation: New England Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Expected Time to Completion: Three to four years
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,457 per credit


When a school is accredited, it means that a third-party agency has reviewed several criteria and deemed that the school offers quality and value to students. Some common areas of review include admissions, cost, staffing, and available programs. Colleges typically earn regional accreditation for every aspect of the school as well as individual accreditation for specific programs. Some of the most well-known regional accrediting agencies include:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools

Additionally, some programs in biotechnology may have earned accreditation from agencies such as the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Biotechnology Master’s Professors to Know

Dr. David Adams is a biotechnology professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His primary research interest is the study of neurotrophic factors as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. He has several publications to his credit in influential journals, including “Src and PSA are Required for Androgen Receptor Activity and Protein Levels in Androgen-Independent Prostate Cancer.” Dr. Adams earned his bachelor’s in physiology from Oklahoma State University, his graduate degree in biophysical sciences from the University of Houston, and a doctorate in molecular biology from the University of Texas. He also completed a post-doctorate in molecular biology at Rockefeller University.

Dr. Marcia Firmani has directed the medical laboratory sciences program at George Washington University for over ten years. She is also the interim chair of the department of integrated health sciences and an assistant professor of integrated health sciences. She teaches molecular diagnostics and clinical microbiology within the medical laboratory sciences program. In her previous role, Dr. Firmani conducted numerous research projects that involved biothreat agents while she was employed by National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center. Dr. Firmani earned her bachelor’s degree from Marist College, her master’s in public health from Tulane University, and her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Roza Selimyan is the program chair for the biotechnology program and the biotechnology management specialization at UMGC. Her areas of expertise and research interests include aging, the biology of cancer, epigenetics, genetics, and molecular biology. Dr. Selimyan previously worked for the National Institutes of Health. Her research there has been published in several peer-review journals. She comes to UMGC from Johns Hopkins University where she managed the health science intensive program with another colleague. Dr. Selimyan received her master’s in molecular science and genetics from Yerevan State University in Armenia and her doctorate in molecular biology from the University of Rostock in Germany.