Genetic engineering. Fermentation. Virology. Put on your safety goggles - you're about to earn one of the best Biotechnology degrees in the nation.
Biotechnology is all about using biological systems - plants, animals, genes, etc. - to develop or design new products. This covers a lot of ground. You could use biotechnology in medicine, agriculture, food science, industrial materials - the list could go on!
If you want to use science to fight diseases, solve hunger crises, and develop new biofuels, then a degree in Biotechnology is right up your alley.
What kind of degree in Biotechnology should you get?
The first step to a career in this area is a bachelor's degree in either biology or biotechnology.
You'll find that biotechnology covers a lot of different areas. Most of these schools help guide you into a facet of biotechnology that best fits your interests and academic passions.
For example, do you want to get down to the nitty-gritty of the natural world? Check out the Microbial Biotechnology concentrations at UC Davis, Cal Poly Pomona, or SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
Do you like looking at the bigger picture? Then take a look at the Plant Biotechnology and Animal Biotechnology tracks at the University of Georgia and SUNY Cobleskill.
Regardless of which specific area of biotechnology you want to explore, all of these programs will give you a fantastic foundational understanding of the basics. If your schedule isn't quite going to line up with a full-time, on-campus program, check out College Choice's list of the 50 Best Online Colleges and Universities.
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How much money do people make with a degree in Biotechnology?
Earning a degree in the world of biotechnology will guarantee you not only a rewarding career, but a financially secure future. You could take this degree in so many different areas, but three potential roles you could find yourself pursuing are a Microbiologist, a Biomedical Engineer, or a Biological Technician. All three of these jobs offer a comfortable annual salary:
These figures, of course, adjust depending on where you are working. For example, working in the pharmaceutical and medical world will earn you a higher salary than working at a private or state-level setting. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment in biotechnology careers is expected to increase by over 10 percent in the next 10 years.
What can you do with a degree in Biotechnology?
Biotechnology is a field with virtually no limits. You can take your degree and apply it to medicine, agriculture, transportation, and beyond. If you're more interested in the research side of things, you could work in a laboratory or a think-tank at a university.
If you're the kind of person who likes to get their hands dirty, you could cater your career to field experiments and trips around the world to test soil and plant samples. Here are just a few of the many careers you could pursue with a degree in biotechnology:
- Agricultural Engineer
- Food Scientist
What are the requirements for a degree in Biotechnology?
Since you're starting with a bachelor's degree, your admissions requirements will look pretty similar to any other degree requirements. You'll take the SAT/ACT, write a few essays, turn in your transcripts, and hope for the best!
But here are a few things you can do to optimize your chances at getting into the best program possible:
- Join a science club. It looks fantastic on applications if you're already showing extracurricular interest in biotechnology.
- Bring your grades up. This degree is science-heavy, so work hard at chemistry, physics, and biology.
- Walk the talk. As much as you can, show that you're invested in this area of your education. Do your own research; read up on current discoveries; find mentors in your area.
What are the best degrees in Biotechnology?
Below you'll find the 10 Best Biotechnology degrees. We took a number of steps to find our list. First, we gathered the academic quality of each program. Then we looked at affordability and the return on investment - a big factor in how you decide on a school. Last but not least, we factored in student happiness using retention rates and graduation rates of each program.
Our methodology draws from our data team at College Choice, the quality resources at U.S. News & World Report, and the statistics at Payscale.com.
See our rankings methodology page.
West Lafayette, IN
Purdue University Northwest kicks off our list! Affiliated with the larger Purdue University system, this public institution operates two campuses: Hammond and Westville. Over 11,000 students attend between the two locations and earn degrees from one of the six academic colleges.
Purdue University Northwest leads the pack with its BS in Biology with a concentration in Biotechnology. You’ll leave this program ready to either work in the biotech industry or pursue a graduate degree. Purdue University Northwest gives you amazing hands-on opportunities in labs with classes like:
- Principles of Biochemistry
- Recombinant DNA Techniques
- Biology of the Immune System
- Cell and Tissue Culture
The Department of Biological Sciences at Purdue University Northwest keeps research paramount throughout all of your classes. It is committed to teaching modern biology and keeping up with current industry discoveries. You’ll also have ample opportunity to do your own research with the support of graduate students and faculty.
With a history that reaches all the way back to 1785, the University of Georgia is one of the oldest state university in the nation. It is widely referred to as a “Public Ivy” school, particularly because of its high research productivity and selective admissions process. Nationally, it ranks in the top 50 for its biological sciences program.
During your first two years in the Applied Biotechnology major at the University of Georgia, you’ll take classes in the basics of biotechnology – molecular genetics, molecular biology, and more. Then, you’ll select a concentration area: applied economics, food science, animal science, or plant science. Some classes throughout include:
- Experimental Genetics
- Gene Technology
- Soils and Hydrology
- Elements of Physiology
This program is bursting with extracurriculars when you’re not in classes. You can join one of the many student organizations like the Horticulture Club, the Food Science Club or the UGA Pre-Vet Club. Or you can choose a specific internship opportunity with a local organization that will set you up for a future job.
University of California Davis
The University of California Davis (or UC Davis) makes up one of the ten schools in the larger state system. Its status as a “Public Ivy” is just the start of its many accolades. Its faculty are Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Peace Prize winners, and the biological sciences program ranks 18th in the country.
At UC Davis, you’ll have the opportunity to specialize within your BS in Biotechnology. After taking two years of general education courses and biotechnology core classes, you’ll specialize in one of the following: Fermentation/Microbial Biotechnology, Plant Biotechnology, Animal Biotechnology, or Bioinformatics. Here are some course highlights:
- Plant Pathology
- Molecular and Cellular Biology
- Food Science and Technology
The Biotechnology internship experience is often a highlight for undergraduates at UC Irvine. In the past students have found placements both on-campus and off-campus. Some of the past placements include Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Biocon, Planet Biotechnology, and more.
University of Rhode Island
The primary research university in the state, the University of Rhode Island is considered both a land-grant and sea-grant institution. It enrolls around 13,600 undergraduates per year and maintains a lively student life on campus. Undergraduates are part of over 100 student organizations.
The program at the University of Rhode Island is truly unique. You’ll earn a BS in Medical Laboratory Science with a concentration in Biotechnology. It is designed as a 1+3 format. This means you’ll spend the first year in a full-time intensive coursework program. You’ll then complete a full-time internship, after which you’ll take part-time classes like:
- Immunology & Serology
- Pathogenic Bacteriology
This degree is offered through the Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies. The entire academic college is designed to prepare students (many of whom are adult learners) to jump directly into the workforce. The 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio is the perfect educational alchemy for in-depth learning.
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry is one of the top universities for the natural sciences. Besides its main campus location in Syracuse, New York, the university maintains facilities in Adirondack Park, the Thousand Islands, and Costa Rica. It ranks third on Forbes’ list of the best colleges for women in STEM.
Three concentration areas are embedded in this BS in Biotechnology: Plant Biotechnology, Microbial Biotechnology, and Pre-Health/Pre-Vet. With an internship and an independent study requirement, you will be hands-on from the start. Your curriculum will be engaging and varied as well with electives like:
- Mycorrhizal Ecology
- Forest and Shade Tree Pathology
- Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
Conveniently located in the same city, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry has a special partnership with Syracuse University. Students can take cross-over courses that are offered at either school. Even within this major, there are 10 courses from Syracuse University that are accepted as curriculum requirements.
University of Nebraska-Omaha
Operating as the state’s primary location for public higher education, the University of Nebraska Omaha is a fast-growing institution. In the last eight years, UNO has tripled its housing facilities to accommodate its student body of around 15,500. The school is divided into two campuses: Dodge Campus and Scott Campus.
Your curriculum for UNO’s Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology starts with five required classes and ends with a biotechnology internship. In between, you’ll get lots of time in the lab, covering in-depth classes in chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Some highlights from this sequence include:
- Microbial Physiology
- Comparative Genomics
- Molecular Genetics
You have an amazing opportunity to complete the Medical Laboratory Science Technology track. UNO and the Nebraska Methodist Hospital joined forces to give interested students a 3+1 program. You’ll take most of your classes at UNO, but then finish your degree at Methodist Hospital in a clinical setting
California State Polytechnic University
Located just outside of Los Angeles, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (or Cal Poly Pomona) is a public university that is devoted to the applied sciences. Most of its students are enrolled in engineering programs, though Biology and Biotechnology are also popular majors. In 2016, it ranked fourth among the “Best Western Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report.
This BS in Biotechnology gives you lots of options. The curriculum is divided up into six “clusters” of which you’ll design your own focus: Physiology, Molecular Biology, Microbiology and Pathology, Biochemistry, Agriculture, and Business. Before that, you’ll select from core classes within the major. Your first year of term could look like this:
- Horizons in Biotechnology
- Cellular Physiology
- Population Genetics
If research is your specialty, Cal Poly Pomona has some fantastic resources for you. The RISE program is specifically designed to prepare you for a future doctorate program in biomedical research. The McNair Scholars Program helps out first-generation, low-income students to excel in undergraduate research.
SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill
SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill excels in not just agricultural sciences and technology; it offers degrees in everything from culinary arts to early childhood education. Beyond its 15 bachelor’s degrees, students can also access over 41 associate’s degrees.
You’ll get the whole package through this BS in Biotechnology. The curriculum will cover the standard biology, chemistry, and mathematics. But then you’ll narrow in on specialty topics like microorganisms, plants, or animals used in modern agriculture. Finally, a 6-credit internship will top off this program. Your classes will include:
- Ethics in Science, Medicine, and Technology
- Tissue Culture Techniques
- Cell Biology
A few perks come with SUNY Cobleskill’s program. If you have advanced classes in high school, it’s possible for you to finish this degree in just three years. You also have the benefit of small classes, with a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio in your upper-level biotechnology classes.
Based in the “Big Apple,” CUNY City College is a touchstone of higher education. With its history of being the first free public university at its start, CUNY City College continues this legacy in continuing to offer affordable education. In fact, it is the most affordable program on our list with a net price of $8,547 per year.
You’ll find the BS in Biotechnology housed within the Biology department at CUNY City College. You’ll have numerous opportunities for research and independent study through this degree, especially through the Honors program. Some of your more advanced classes in the curriculum will include:
- Cancer Biology
- Biomedical Physics
- Journey to the Center of the Cell
City College of New York also incorporates programs that benefit minority students in their pursuit of higher education. Through MARC (Maximizing Access to Research Careers) and RISE (Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement), you’ll find mentorship, tuition benefits, and access to valuable research opportunities.
Worcester State University
Originally founded as a teacher’s college in 1874, Worcester State University now offers a wide variety of degrees from its two academic schools. Based in Worcester, Massachusetts, it maintains a fairly small student body, with just around 5,500 students in attendance.
The options are practically endless at Worcester State University. Within the BS in Biotechnology, you can earn a concentration in Bioinformatics or Nuclear Medicine Technology. The standard degree (without a concentration) also gives you lots of wiggle room through electives. Some of them include:
- Biochemical Regulatory Mechanisms
- Cancer Biology
- Medicinal Chemistry
- Fermentation Technology
Your choices don’t stop there! Worcester State University also makes it possible for your to get a combined BS/MS degree in Biotechnology through an accelerated program. Or if you’re interested in pharmacy, you can go through the Honors program as an undergraduate to meet all the prerequisites for a degree at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science.