Master of Science in Biotechnology

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Program Coordinator: Dr. Ellen Fynan
Phone: 508-929-8596

The Master of Science in Biotechnology is a part time program designed to broaden students' understanding of the biological sciences and to prepare students for a professional career in Biotechnology or for doctoral study. Classes are usually held in the evenings and include lectures, laboratory experiences, research methodology, and seminars in current topics.  Research, analytical, and communication skills are developed through original research, culminating in a written thesis and defense.  In addition to the matriculated program, courses are open to students who hold a Bachelor’s degree in a biological subject, biotechnology, or chemistry.

A combined B.S./M.S. program is available for Worcester State University students majoring in Biotechnology.  Please see the Undergraduate Catalog for further information on this program.

Prerequisites for Admission to the Program

To be admitted to the program, a candidate must meet the Worcester State University general admission requirements for the degree of Master of Science. To view these requirements please go to:

The program is open to graduates of accredited institutions of higher education who have been awarded a baccalaureate degree in Biology, Biotechnology, Chemistry, or a similar science major.  Graduate study in Biotechnology at Worcester State University assumes sound undergraduate training and evidence of academic capability. Applicants are expected to have completed courses in Chemistry I and II, Organic Chemistry I, Physics I and II, Microbiology, Cell and/or Molecular Biology (all with a laboratory component), Organic Chemistry II lecture course (no lab requirement), and math coursework up to the level of pre-calculus.   The applicant should have achieved a minimum grade point average of 2.75 in all undergraduate work and an average of 3.00 in all course work within his/her major and in the ancillary courses.


Program of Study for the Degree

The program of study includes 33 graduate credits in required and elective courses, research in biology/biotechnology culminating in an acceptable written thesis and thesis defense, and an ancillary requirement in statistics or computer science.

Of the 33 credits required for the degree, at least 21 credits must be earned as a matriculated graduate student at Worcester State University. Credits for which students have earned a “B-” or higher within a two year period immediately prior to the date of their acceptance into the program are transferable from an accredited institution, including credits earned at Worcester State University. A maximum of 12 such transfer credits may be accepted. Matriculated students who do not maintain a GPA 3.0 or higher or have two grades below a “B-” will be terminated from the program. All work for the degree must be completed within a period of six years from the date of admission to the program.

Degree Requirements required of all students

Required Courses

BI-921Biotechnology and DNA4
BI-927Tissue Culture Techniques3
BI-930Biological Chemistry3
BI/CH 900-Level Biology or Chemistry electives (see list below)14
BI-990Seminar in Biology/Biotechnology3
BI-995Research in Biology/Biotechnology (Acceptable thesis and thesis defense)6
Ancillary requirement in statistics or computer science0
Total Credits33

Elective Courses are from this list or others when approved by the faculty:

BI-915Topics in Advanced Botany4
BI-920Population Biology3
BI-923Fermentation Technology3
BI-925Cell Physiology4
BI-935Biochemical Techniques3
BI-937Molecular Virology3
BI-950Physiological Ecology3
BI-960Biology of Symbiosis4
BI-980Selected Topics: Advanced Biology1-4
BI-981Independent Study in Biology/ Biotechnology1-6
BI-985Graduate Internship in Biology/ Biotechnology3-4
CH-941Biochemistry of Nucleic Acids3
CH-942Structure and Function of Proteins3
CH-943Laboratory Techniques in Biochemistry3
CH-990Special Problems in Chemistry3
CH-991Directed Study1-4
CH-996Internship: Chemistry3

To fulfill requirements for the Course BI-995 (6 credits) the candidate must complete an acceptable thesis based upon original research, conducted during a laboratory research experience. Laboratory investigations are supervised by faculty in the laboratories at Worcester State University or by arrangement at another institution. The candidate must adhere to the form specified for the thesis by the Biology Department graduate faculty. The thesis will be defended in an oral examination conducted by the faculty.

During the semester in which the candidate anticipates receiving the degree, the following timetable for the thesis completion and defense shall apply:

A minimum of four weeks prior to the defense, the completed written thesis must be presented to the candidate’s graduate research advisor.  The comprehensive exam/thesis defense will be scheduled with the candidate's thesis committee, comprised of the thesis advisor, the program coordinator and another member of the program graduate faculty.  

A minimum of two weeks prior to the defense, the final copy of the thesis, with approval by the candidate’s graduate research advisor, will be submitted to the members of the candidate's thesis committee.

Comprehensive Examination/Thesis defense

The Master of Science in Biotechnology candidate is required to pass a comprehensive examination/thesis defense in the candidate’s area of specialization. At least twenty-four approved graduate credits must be earned before the candidate can submit a request for the scheduling of a comprehensive exam/thesis defense. If the candidate fails the examination, he/she will be granted one additional opportunity to fulfill this requirement. All work for the degree must be completed within a period of six years from the date of admission to the program.

Graduate Biotechnology Courses

BI-905 Historical Perspectives in Biology

The nature, processes, and research approaches of the major biological discoveries and emerging new paradigms from the 17th century to present.

3 Credits

BI-910 Public Health Parasitology

Biology, epidemiology, disease processes, control and prevention of human parasites. Concentrates on selected protozoan, helminth and arthropod organisms. Includes three hour laboratory.

4 Credits

BI-915 Topics in Advanced Botany

Explores and reviews specialized topics in the life of plants. Includes three hour laboratory.

4 Credits

BI-920 Population Biology

Analyzes population density, growth, regulation, and energy relationships. Population interactions, organization, and evolution are stressed.

3 Credits

BI-921 Biotechnology and DNA

Applications of recombinant DNA technology, together with business and industry information and government regulations. Includes a three hour laboratory

4 Credits

BI-923 Fermentation Technology

The growth of microorganisms in bioreactors under sterile conditions and the production of useful products.

3 Credits

BI-925 Cell Physiology

Examines the cellular mechanisms involved in maintaining homeostasis in response to changes in the cellular environment. Includes three-hour laboratory.

4 Credits

BI-927 Tissue Culture Techniques

Presents the most important techniques used for mammalian tissue culture by lecture and laboratory demostration and practice. The course also includes topics in plant tissue culture. (Prereq: BS in biological science)

3 Credits

BI-930 Biological Chemistry

Concerns the physical, chemical, and biological properties and metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, DNA and RNA.

3 Credits

BI-935 Biochemical Techniques

Topics include the isolation and characterization of biochemical compounds with emphasis on nucleic acids and proteins. One hour of lecture and a three-hour laboratory per week.

3 Credits

BI-936 Immunology

Recent advances in understanding the immune system will be covered. B.S. in a biological science is required.

3 Credits

BI-937 Molecular Virology

A study of virus families with emphasis on replication and and regulation of gene expression. B.S. in biology science required.

3 Credits

BI-938 Toxicology

A theoretical course presenting the principles and mechanisms of toxic damage to cells, organs and organisms.

3 Credits

BI-950 Physiological Ecology

Considers the physiological adjustments which animals make in response to environmental factors; emphasizes the physiological basis of animal evolution and distribution.

3 Credits

BI-960 Biology of Symbiosis

Nutritional, metabolic, and evolutionary mechanisms of partnerships in nature with emphasis on the universality of symbiosis. Includes three hour laboratory.

4 Credits

BI-980 Selected Topics: Advanced Biology

Each topic is a timely and exciting new lecture and/or laboratory course. Topics will be announced in advance and will service needs in growth areas; e.g., biotechnology.

1-4 Credits

BI-981 Independent Study in Biology/ Biotechnology

Independent study or directed study on a topic of interest to both the student(s) and the instructor. 1-6 credits

1-6 Credits

BI-985 Graduate Internship in Biology/ Biotechnology

Requires successful completion of a minimum of twelve graduate credits toward the degree and approval of the Biology faculty. Provides Master of Science candidates the chance to gain practical experience at off-campus agencies where technical and analytical skills can be gained.

3-4 Credits

BI-990 Seminar in Biology/Biotechnology

Study and discussion of current researches, books, and periodicals in the field of biology; includes reports of research in progress. Required of all graduate degree candidates.

3 Credits

BI-995 Research in Biology/Biotechnology

Original research in biology under faculty supervision. Requires an acceptable written thesis or paper in publishable format. Required of all degree candidates. May be repeated.

1-6 Credits