University General Course Catalog 2022-2023 
    May 30, 2024  

Biotechnology, M.S.

The Biotechnology, M.S. is a non-thesis program designed for applicants seeking advanced research training in the molecular biological sciences. This program is designed for individuals who are serious about entrance into the biotechnology job market. This program is also recommended for those seeking graduate educational experience, who may want to pursue a Ph.D. in the future. This degree is not recommended for applicants interested in entering medical school or other allied health programs with the exception of those interested in applying for an M.D./Ph.D. program.

Juniors and seniors in the University of Nevada, Reno’s Biotechnology, B.S. program who are conducting laboratory research, may apply to the B.S./M.S. Accelerated Program in Biotechnology. 

The Biotechnology, M.S. program is a full time program; it includes up to twelve credits of graduate coursework per semester and requires a continuous research commitment in a participating laboratory (including summer). The program offers a one or two year path to completion. The one year path is only available to UNR students with a B.S. degree in the biological sciences, who are currently conducting research in a UNR laboratory in a related field. Preference for the one year path will be given to students with a B.S. in Biotechnology from UNR. All students accepted into the program are required to give an oral research presentation at the Annual Biotechnology Symposium in May. A research poster presentation is also strongly recommended for those in need of this experience.

Contact Information

Biotechnology Program Director –
Dr. Christie Howard, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Academic Advisor-
Hanna Damke, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Program Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will demonstrate a basic level of competency in the general field of study related to Biotechnology.
  • Students will be able to explain ideas and results through written, numerical, and graphical forms of communication.
  • Students will able to complete research in their field of study in Biotechnology and present that research at the annual Biotechnology Symposium in May.

Admission Requirements

Contact the Graduate Program Director for more information on available spaces within the program. Students entering this program should have a Bachelor of Science degree or equivalent in the biological sciences or a related field. In order to be considered for this program, prospective students must have the following qualifications.

  • A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Minimum of 75 semester units towards a biological science degree
  • Preferred minimum GPA of 3.0 in the sciences (last two years are strongly weighted)
  • Two semesters of documented research or internship experience (e.g. credit on transcripts)
  • Completion of the following courses with a “C” or better:
    • Two semesters of college English (ENG 101  and ENG 102  or equivalent)
    • Two semesters of general biology
    • Two semesters of inorganic chemistry with laboratory
    • One to two semesters of organic chemistry with a minimum of one semester of laboratory
    • At least one semester of general physics with laboratory
    • One semester of sophomore or junior level genetics (BIOL 300  or equiv.)
    • One semester of upper-division molecular biology lecture (BCH 405  )
    • One semester of upper-division molecular biology laboratory (BCH 406  or equiv.)
    • One semester of upper-division biochemistry lecture (BCH 400  or equiv.)
    • One semester of biochemistry laboratory (BCH 303  or equiv.)
    • 12 credits of upper-division coursework in biochemistry, molecular biology, immunology, and/or microbiology are strongly recommended
  • Students on a one year path must have completed undergraduate research in their chosen lab and provide contact information for their principle investigator to be used for reference purposes.
  • International students are required to have TOEFL scores above 600 unless they possess an undergraduate degree from the United States, Australia, or the United Kingdom.
  • Promising prospective students will be phone interviewed by a member of the Biotechnology faculty or designated faculty representative.
  • Students admitted with academic deficiencies must work with their advisors and the Program Director to create a plan to remediate deficiencies by the end of the first year.

Application deadlines and additional information can be found at the Graduate School website.

I. Program Requirements (32 units)

Candidates for the M.S. degree in Biotechnology must satisfy all general requirements of the Graduate School. Because of the diverse skills needed by biotechnologists, additional units beyond the University minimum may be required to overcome deficiencies. A minimum of 32 units, with at least 15 units at the 700-level, are required for graduation with a non-thesis M.S. in Biotechnology. Students should consult with their research and academic advisors for guidance on choice of course work.

A. Biochemistry and Biology (9-10 units)

C. Microbiology (2 units)

D. Graduate Electives (8-9 units)

In consultation with a Biotechnology academic advisor, select graduate courses, including 700-level research credits in the home department, which will prepare you to achieve your career goals. 

E. Additional Requirements

Graduate Application Deadline

Priority applications should be submitted to the Graduate School by March 1st for summer/fall entry and October 15th for spring entry. Late applications will be considered only if room is available.  Program size is currently limited.

Graduation Requirements

Students will conduct laboratory research while enrolled in the program, including the summer between the first and second year (2-year program) or the summer of the first year (1-year program).

All students are required to present their research at the Annual Biotechnology Symposium in May which is scheduled within days of the graduation ceremony.

Requirements for Continued Enrollment in the Program

Students must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) throughout their graduate studies. Students failing to meet this requirement will be placed on academic probation. Students will have one semester to raise their overall GPA and return to good standing. Students who are unable to do so must meet with their Biotechnology academic advisors to discuss options.

The M.S. program in Biotechnology is a full-time commitment. In addition to coursework, students are required to participate in laboratory research for 15 to 20 hours a week for each of the five semesters in graduate school (including the summer session between their first and second year). It is strongly recommended that students do not work or volunteer for more than 10 hours a week while enrolled in the program. If a student is dismissed by their M.S. research advisor, they can be removed from the program.

Financial Impact

Students are encouraged to apply for student loans and graduate scholarships since financial support by the program is limited and competitive. While some students are paid through graduate research or graduate teaching assistantships, these opportunities are awarded at the discretion of the M.S. faculty. If finances are an issue, please consult with your faculty research advisor and academic advisor to identify other options for support.

II. Recommended Schedule - Two-Year Program

A. First Year

Spring Semester (7 units)

Summer Semester (3 units)

B. Second Year

Fall Semester (5 units)

Spring Semester (8 units)

III. Recommended Schedule - One-Year Program

A. First Year

Summer Semester (First Term) (3 units)

Summer Semester (Second Term) (5 units)

  • 700-level research in home department (3 units)
  • Elective (2 units)

Spring Semester (12 units)