Online Degrees in Biotechnology


Have you seen how scientists can now make hamburgers from plants? It was first developed by a team of biotechnologists looking for an alternative to meat that may be friendlier to the environment and save animals from slaughter.

Biotechnology is the field where biology and technology meet. Biotechnology is commonly defined as the science that manipulates or modifies living organisms or their components to create products that are useful to humans. Biotechnologists are some of the main people behind life-saving drugs and vaccines, innovative agricultural practices, and revolutionary food technologies.

While it is a good idea for aspiring biotechnologists to have an interest in how living beings function, the College Board also recommends liking the thought of working in a controlled environment with cutting-edge equipment. Online biotechnology degree programs can help you become proficient with many of these technologies while still having the flexibility to adhere to work or any other commitments you may have.

Gene therapy: More than half of industry revenue is generated by sales of healthcare products IBISWorld, July 2019.

Biotechnology is the manipulation of living organisms to create products that are beneficial to human beings. It may be as simple as using bacteria to form yogurt or ferment beer or complex processes used to create vaccines. It is mainly a biology-based discipline.

Bioengineering, on the other hand, is the application of engineering principles to solve biological problems. For example, the design of artificial hips and medical imaging techniques fall under the umbrella of bioengineering.

Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical processes behind how living being works. They may study these processes right from the atomic makeup of cells to more complex tissues and organs. Those working in the field of biotechnology may manipulate DNA or genes to produce desired effects. For example, a biochemist working in the field of agriculture may manipulate genes in a particular crop plant to make it more resistant to disease. Some of their more general duties may include:

  • Planning research projects and conducting them
  • Managing their laboratory teams and overseeing their work
  • Using advanced technologies, such as lasers and fluorescent microscopes to conduct their research and develop products
  • Preparing technical reports, research papers, and recommendations based on their findings
  • Applying for and securing funding for future research
The Biotechnology in the US industry consists of Human health technologies, animal health, marine and terrestrial microbial technologies, environmental remediation and natural resource recovery, agriculture and aquaculture technologies and industrial technologies, IBISWorld, July 2019.

The steps below outline one way you can become a biochemist or a biophysicist.

  1. Take advanced courses like AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and AP Physics in high school.
  2. Opt for math, statistics and calculus classes if possible.
  3. Build your communication skills through English lessons.
  4. Do your research to find the top online colleges for biotechnology degree programs.
  5. See what specializations they have to offer and the biotechnology careers you can have.
  6. Enroll in the online biotechnology degree program of your choice.
  7. Gain valuable experience through an internship.
  8. Enroll in an online biotechnology master's degree program.
  9. Get a job.
  10. Complete your doctoral degree to advance your career and prospects for independent research.
Total revenue of the biotechnology industry in the United States in 2019: $112bn IBISWorld, July 2019.

You may be able to have a biotechnology career conducting research or developing new products in a number of different fields - from food and agriculture to medicine and even research for space programs. Graduates with online biotechnology degrees may be able to find jobs in places like government agencies, private companies, regulatory bodies, or clinical laboratories, to name a few.

The table below lists some of the occupations related to the field of biotechnology along with their educational requirements and associated salaries using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career
Employment
Average Salary
Projected Job Growth
Technical Writers50,760$76,8608.5%
Biochemists and Biophysicists31,360$108,1806.3%
Microbiologists18,270$82,7604.9%
Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products306,980$92,9803.7%
Source: 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

The BLS reports that there is an increasing demand for expertise in the sciences, especially in biomedical research and environmental protection. Online biotechnology degrees can help you develop your expertise in these fields among others. Online biotechnology bachelor degree programs can help you gain the knowledge you need for entry-level roles in the field. Master's degree programs can provide you with the tools for career advancement while doctoral degrees may allow you to enter research and academia.

We ranked these online colleges for biotechnology using factors important to online students such as tuition, percentage of financial aid, student-to-faculty ratio. We encourage you to look at the methodology at the bottom of the page.

Associate
Bachelor's
Master's
1
Frank Phillips College
Borger, TX
Average in-state tuition
$2,220
No. of online programs
9
% of students in distance education
57%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,671
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
2
East Mississippi Community College
Scooba, MS
Average in-state tuition
$3,200
No. of online programs
71
% of students in distance education
56%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,387
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
3
Holmes Community College
Goodman, MS
Average in-state tuition
$2,600
No. of online programs
95
% of students in distance education
51%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,040
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
4
Allen County Community College
Iola, KS
Average in-state tuition
$1,920
No. of online programs
81
% of students in distance education
74%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,251
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
5
Mission College
Santa Clara, CA
Average in-state tuition
$1,104
No. of online programs
4
% of students in distance education
35%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,375
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
6
Copiah-Lincoln Community College
Wesson, MS
Average in-state tuition
$2,800
No. of online programs
27
% of students in distance education
17%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,477
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
7
Salem University
Salem, WV
Average in-state tuition
$16,500
No. of online programs
21
% of students in distance education
100%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,625
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
22%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
8
Western Texas College
Snyder, TX
Average in-state tuition
$2,970
No. of online programs
15
% of students in distance education
17%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,595
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
1
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL
Average in-state tuition
$4,477
No. of online programs
65
% of students in distance education
50%
Avg. amount of Aid
$9,169
Admissions Rate
39%
Graduation Rate
90%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
2
Florida International University
Miami, FL
Average in-state tuition
$4,721
No. of online programs
72
% of students in distance education
65%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,872
Admissions Rate
59%
Graduation Rate
58%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
3
Logan University
Chesterfield, MO
Average in-state tuition
$6,600
No. of online programs
6
% of students in distance education
100%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,828
Admissions Rate
88%
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
4
Eastern Washington University
Cheney, WA
Average in-state tuition
$6,381
No. of online programs
82
% of students in distance education
28%
Avg. amount of Aid
$9,168
Admissions Rate
63%
Graduation Rate
44%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
5
Shorter University
Rome, GA
Average in-state tuition
$21,940
No. of online programs
46
% of students in distance education
38%
Avg. amount of Aid
$13,455
Admissions Rate
57%
Graduation Rate
46%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
6
Salem University
Salem, WV
Average in-state tuition
$16,500
No. of online programs
21
% of students in distance education
100%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,625
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
22%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
7
Life University
Marietta, GA
Average in-state tuition
$11,205
No. of online programs
4
% of students in distance education
30%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,714
Admissions Rate
94%
Graduation Rate
33%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
8
Bellevue University
Bellevue, NE
Average in-state tuition
$7,152
No. of online programs
79
% of students in distance education
85%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,604
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
9
Defiance College
Defiance, OH
Average in-state tuition
$31,990
No. of online programs
2
% of students in distance education
18%
Avg. amount of Aid
$18,219
Admissions Rate
52%
Graduation Rate
39%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
10
University of Phoenix-Arizona
Tempe, AZ
Average in-state tuition
$9,552
No. of online programs
134
% of students in distance education
99%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,809
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
17%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
1
University of Nebraska at Kearney
Kearney, NE
Average in-state tuition
$5,940
No. of online programs
26
% of students in distance education
61%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,404
Admissions Rate
94%
Graduation Rate
58%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
2
Indiana State University
Terre Haute, IN
Average in-state tuition
$8,890
No. of online programs
58
% of students in distance education
43%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,975
Admissions Rate
90%
Graduation Rate
41%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
3
Alcorn State University
Alcorn State, MS
Average in-state tuition
$5,732
No. of online programs
4
% of students in distance education
69%
Avg. amount of Aid
$11,041
Admissions Rate
89%
Graduation Rate
40%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
4
Bowling Green State University-Main Campus
Bowling Green, OH
Average in-state tuition
$9,096
No. of online programs
28
% of students in distance education
33%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,502
Admissions Rate
72%
Graduation Rate
56%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
5
Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, KY
Average in-state tuition
$10,512
No. of online programs
46
% of students in distance education
44%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,683
Admissions Rate
97%
Graduation Rate
45%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
6
University of Northern Colorado
Greeley, CO
Average in-state tuition
$7,596
No. of online programs
22
% of students in distance education
29%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,408
Admissions Rate
91%
Graduation Rate
47%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
7
Clemson University
Clemson, SC
Average in-state tuition
$13,982
No. of online programs
43
% of students in distance education
25%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,551
Admissions Rate
47%
Graduation Rate
83%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
8
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, MA
Average in-state tuition
$49,860
No. of online programs
19
% of students in distance education
16%
Avg. amount of Aid
$20,699
Admissions Rate
42%
Graduation Rate
87%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
9
Eastern Washington University
Cheney, WA
Average in-state tuition
$6,381
No. of online programs
82
% of students in distance education
28%
Avg. amount of Aid
$9,168
Admissions Rate
63%
Graduation Rate
44%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
10
University of Maryland-College Park
College Park, MD
Average in-state tuition
$8,651
No. of online programs
3
% of students in distance education
12%
Avg. amount of Aid
$9,348
Admissions Rate
47%
Graduation Rate
86%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
11
Illinois Institute of Technology
Chicago, IL
Average in-state tuition
$45,747
No. of online programs
16
% of students in distance education
14%
Avg. amount of Aid
$30,918
Admissions Rate
58%
Graduation Rate
72%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2018-19, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Associate degrees in biotechnology are rare. Some may go under the title of Biotechnology Laboratory Technology. Due to the extensive hands-on nature of the field, online associate degrees in biotechnology do not currently exist. However, some schools may allow students to complete their general education classes asynchronously (at their own pace) online while taking their core courses on campus.

Another option for individuals who want some college education may be to earn an online associate degree in biology that can act as a stepping-stone toward a bachelor's degree in biotechnology.

Projected market size of the biotechnology industry in the United States in 2020: 114. 8bn IBISWorld, accessed January 2020.

Fully online biotechnology bachelor's degree programs are rare and may only be available to those with an associate degree in the field. Hybrid programs are more common and students may be able to take theory-based classes online and attend classes on campus for labs and practical work.

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor's degree program?

Students enrolled in online biotechnology bachelor's degree programs can gain an understanding of fundamental biotechnological concepts, learn laboratory skills and start exploring the latest trends in the field.

Typical duration: Four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Associate degree in biotechnology; some work experience in the field

Typical coursework: Apart from general education classes, topics may include introductions to microbiology, genetics, and laboratory techniques among others. Some examples of courses are:

  • Bioinfomatics
  • Inquiries in biological science
  • Molecular and cellular biology
  • Laboratory management and safety
  • Current trends and applications in the life sciences

Students may be required to complete an internship or a capstone project to satisfy the requirements of their online biotechnology degree program.

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a bachelor's in biotechnology?

A bachelor's degree in biotechnology may qualify you for entry-level roles in the field of biotechnology. Students may be able to gain employment in pharmaceutical companies, agriculture, research laboratories, and environmental protection agencies among others. Some examples of job titles include:

  • Biotechnology / pharmaceutical sales representative
  • Biotechnology laboratory technician
  • Biotechnology research associate
  • Microbiologist
  • Technical writer
The Biotechnology industry in the US is the 7th ranked Healthcare and Social Assistance industry by market size and the 100th largest in the US. IBISWorld, accessed January 2020

What can I expect to learn in an online master's degree program?

Online biotechnology master's degree programs can help students prepare for specialized careers in the field. Students may study advanced topics in areas of their interest and build their expertise in laboratory technologies.

Typical duration: Two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor's degree in biotechnology or a related field

Typical coursework: Curricula can vary depending on your chosen specialization. Topics may also include the business behind biotechnology. Some examples of courses you may take include:

  • Genetic engineering and synthetic biology
  • Managing technological innovation
  • Drug regulations
  • Techniques of biotechnology
  • Agents of bioterrorism

Students may need to complete a capstone project or a master's thesis as a part of their online biotechnology master's degree program.

Possible electives: Advanced topics in biotechnology; membrane protein-targeted drug design; medicinal chemistry

What kind of jobs can I get after earning a master's in biotechnology?

A master's degree in biotechnology can open up careers in medicine, laboratory research, regulatory affairs, clinical research, and business to name a few areas. Depending on specializations and previous work experience, graduates of online biotechnology master's degree programs may be able to find work as:

  • Clinical trial manager
  • Grants assistant
  • Project coordinator
  • Research scientist
  • Research, validation, and field applications scientist
  • Senior technology licensing officer
The market size of the Biotechnology industry in the US has grown 2.3% per year on average between 2015 and 2020. IBISWorld, accessed January 2020.

Online biotechnology certificate programs are typically of two types. The first is designed for individuals who have earned a bachelor's degree in life sciences (biology and microbiology, for example) and want to study biotechnology. The second is typically geared toward those individuals with an undergraduate degree in biotechnology and want some graduate level education in particular aspects of the field without necessarily having to commit to a master's degree program. Certificate programs usually take less time to complete than a graduate degree program and so may require a lower financial commitment as well.

Typical duration: Two years of part-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor's degree in biotechnology or a related field; some programs may require work experience in the field as well

Typical coursework: Curricula can vary depending on the target audience and the focus of the program. Some examples of courses include:

  • Advanced molecular biology
  • Advanced molecular genetics of bacteria
  • Biochemical engineering
  • Cell culture processes for biopharmaceutical production
  • Protein chemistry

Possible electives: Immunobiology; advanced bacterial pathogenesis; advanced plant molecular biology and genetic engineering

There are currently no online doctoral degrees in biotechnology due to the intensive laboratory work necessary. However, universities may allow students to take some of their classes online in special cases.

The market size of the Biotechnology industry in the US increased faster than the economy overall. IBISWorld, accessed January 2020.

Accreditation

The accreditation status of a school or program is an important criterion to look out for when choosing an online biology degree program as can demonstrate that the education offered is on par with or exceeds the standards required by professionals in the industry. Additionally, attending an accredited program can play a vital role while applying for federal funding and grants. You may find some online biotechnology degree programs are programmatically accredited by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) or the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET).

Specializations in Biotechnology

Biotechnology is a relatively new discipline and yet has a number of applications across a variety of industries. Choosing a specialization while earning your online biotechnology degree can help you focus your education and therefore your future career in an area that interests you. The top online colleges for biotechnology degrees may offer one or more specializations for you to choose from. Some examples of specializations include:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Biopharmaceutical analytical sciences
  • Biosecurity and biodefense
  • Biotechnology enterprise
  • Biotechnology management
  • Biotechnology regulatory affairs
  • Molecular biotechnology
  • Pharmaceutical technologies
  • Process sciences
  • Regenerative and stem cell technologies

Certifications

Professional certifications may not be mandatory. However they can demonstrate your proficiency in a particular aspect of the field as well as your commitment to it. According to the BLS, medical scientists who conduct research do not typically need licenses or certifications but those who administer medications or gene therapy on patients need a license to practice as a physician. The Center for Professional Innovation and Education (CfPIE) offers certifications for those working in the biotechnology industry. Those working directly with patients may benefit from the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) Point-of-Care Testing Professional Certification.

Employment Statistics

Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing
  • Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods (4242 and 4246 only)
  • Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories
  • Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing
States with the highest level of employment
  • New Jersey
  • California
  • Massachusetts
  • Texas
  • Pennsylvania
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
  • New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  • Kansas City, MO-KS
  • Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
  • Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN

Microbiologists

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools
  • Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation)
  • State Government, excluding schools and hospitals (OES Designation)
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Maryland
  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • Georgia
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  • Vallejo-Fairfield, CA
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  • San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
  • Athens-Clarke County, GA

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

You may find that students of online biotechnology degree programs may be able to apply for scholarships that are oriented toward STEM students in the fields of biology, microbiology and engineering, providing they meet scholarship requirements, of course. These scholarships may help ease the financial burden associated with attending college. Some scholarships to help you get started in your search include:

Other resources for those aspiring to work in the field of biotechnology:

Article Sources
Article Sources

Methodology

To be included in our rankings for the top colleges for online degrees in biotechnology by degree level, the colleges had to meet following four requirements:

  1. Offer a degree or certificate program in that subject, either in an online or hybrid format
  2. Have at least 1% of students attending some form of distance education
  3. Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject
  4. Have reported data for all 19 ranking variables for associate/bachelor's and 11 ranking variables for master’s (listed below)

We then ranked colleges and universities in the United States that fit our criteria, using 2018 data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the weights specified. The final totals were:

  • 9 colleges for associate degree in Biotechnology
  • 10 colleges for bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology
  • 12 colleges for master’s degree in Biotechnology

Please note that the accuracy of data derived from IPEDS depends on colleges regularly reporting to IPEDS. Not all colleges are as regular as they should be in updating their information with IPEDS.

OnlineDegrees.com, therefore, has gone a step further to ensure the rankings you see are accurate and verified. We manually check each college website to provide you the top rankings you can rely on. Because of this double-check, the number of colleges may vary for each degree level

We then scored the final list of colleges by degree level on a 100-point scale using these specific data points:

Associate/Bachelor’s

  1. Associate’s/Bachelor’s Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
  2. Ratio of undergraduate students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
  3. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  4. Retention rate
  5. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  6. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
  7. Student-to-faculty ratio
  8. Variety of Programs, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered via distance education at any level
  9. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
  10. The availability of any tuition plans (4 variables considered)
  11. a. Payment b. Guaranteed c. Prepaid d. Other
  12. Services (2 variables considered)
  13. a. Academic/Career b. Placement for Completers
  14. Credit offerings (4 variables considered)
  15. a. Dual b. Life c. AP d. Military

Master’s

  1. Master’s Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
  2. Ratio of graduate students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
  3. Average in-state tuition for graduates
  4. Credit offerings (2 variables considered)
    1. a. Life
      b. Military
  5. Services (2 variables considered)
    1. a. Academic/Career
      b. Placement for Completers
  6. The availability of any tuition plans (3 variables considered)
    1. a. Payment
      b. Prepaid
      c. Other
  7. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media

NOTE: The accuracy of data derived from IPEDS depends on colleges regularly reporting to IPEDS. Not all colleges are as regular as they should be in updating this information with IPEDS.OnlineDegrees.com, therefore, has gone a step further to ensure the rankings you see are accurate and verified. We manually check each college website to provide you the top rankings you can rely on. Because of this double-check, the number of colleges may vary for each degree level.

Sources

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