Bachelor of Science/Master of Science in Biotechnology

For a field whose roots stretch back centuries, biotechnology has exploded in recent decades. Today's biotechnologists merge biological processes with advanced technologies to attack some of the world's biggest challenges and often build exciting and dynamic careers along the way.

The University has an accelerated five-year B.S./M.S. Biotechnology program that includes a four-year Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree, along with a one-year professional Master of Science (M.S.) degree. This additional graduate year allows students to further explore their scientific potential and become better informed about potential career choices within the field.

The Biotechnology program is designed to open doors for students who wish to pursue careers in the pharmaceutical and other biotechnology-intensive industries. It offers:

  • Coursework and lab work that offer a solid foundation in biochemistry, molecular biology, immunology and good lab practices (GLP)
  • Small class sizes and access to specialized training and instrumentation (e.g. CRISPR genome editing, flow cytometry, Hamilton® robotics
  • Over two years of research experience in an academic and/or industrial internship, which allows students to strengthen their understanding of experimental design, troubleshooting and data interpretation
  • A senior thesis and graduate portion that teaches students how to delve into scientific literature and learn more about the latest advances in the biological sciences
  • Courses that include industry guest speakers and company tours in Reno/Sparks, Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area
  • "Soft-skill" training in communication, job placement and professionalism
  • Small graduating classes (up to 24 M.S. students/year) that can help foster lifelong friendships between students

The Bachelor of Science & Master of Science in Biotechnology place strong emphasis on career planning and preparation. According to the 2015 Department of Biochemistry self-study, 96 percent of the students were employed or working on advanced degrees after graduating.

How do I apply to the Biotechnology program at the University of Nevada, Reno?

Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology: Current University students are welcome to apply to the B.S. portion of the Biotechnology program upon admission to the University, or any time between freshman and senior year. For course requirements and program information, view the B.S. in biotechnology course catalog listing or contact program director Dr. Christie Howard ( to confirm there is still room in the 1-year M.S. portion of the program. If you are only interested in a B.S. in Biotechnology, let the program director know. B.S.-only applicants are always welcome.

All undergraduate students are required to:

  1. See their adviser every semester
  2. Follow the designated science-related path of study
  3. Strive to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0
  4. Begin research no later than the end of their junior year/summer of their senior year. Students are strongly encouraged to begin their research experiences earlier in the program to build a robust resume and earn competitive credentials for the job market.

Master of Science in Biotechnology: Applications for the M.S. (1-year for current University of Nevada, Reno students only) and stand-alone M.S. (2-year) should contact program director Dr. Christie Howard ( Enrollment is open until the maximum class size of 24 people is reached. University of Nevada, Reno students graduating with a B.S. in Biotechnology will have first priority for entrance, but others are encouraged to apply.

Can a B.S. student double major in Biotechnology and a related field?

The B.S. Biotechnology program lends itself well to a dual degree or minor in the following subjects: chemistry, microbiology and immunology, neurobiology, agricultural science, veterinary science, environmental science, nutritional science or engineering. Students double-majoring may require extra time to graduate and should speak with an advisor from both programs. Students can transfer into the M.S. program in the summer, fall or spring semester, so taking a little extra time is not usually a problem. Also, many employers begin their fiscal year in January, which provides a unique advantage for students graduating off-track.

Can a student minoring or majoring in Biochemistry or Biology at the University of Nevada, Reno also obtain a B.S. in Biotechnology?

No, because the degrees are too similar. However, many of the minor or major requirements can count towards the B.S. in Biotechnology.

How can I be competitive for a M.S. in Biotechnology?

This is a non-thesis, professional master's program and does not require a GRE score for entrance. It does require 2-3 letters of recommendation and other requirements discussed below. Applicants must also meet the minimum requirements set by the graduate school. Juniors and seniors in the B.S. Biotechnology program should begin discussing the application process with their advisor at the beginning of their junior year.

1-Year M.S. in Biotechnology: Only current University of Nevada, Reno students qualify this program. Students pursuing a B.S. in Biotechnology will have a priority advantage. Students with a strong desire to obtain employment in the Biotechnology field or pursue a Ph.D. in the sciences will also be given high consideration. Students are required to be in good standing with a 3.0 GPA maintained throughout their last three semesters in the sciences, an overall ≥2.8 GPA, and one year of experience in a laboratory conducting research at the cellular or molecular level. For the 1-year M.S. degree, a recommendation from a current University of Nevada, Reno professor is also required to confirm that you have approval to continue research in their lab. Students can begin the graduate portion of this program in the summer, fall or spring and are expected to complete the degree in one year (including summer). If a student wishes to begin taking graduate classes their senior year, they can apply for the accelerated program that allows up to 6 graduate credits per semester to count towards their undergraduate and graduate degrees.

2-Year M.S. in Biotechnology: For students who enter the program with a current B.S. degree in the sciences, it is best to plan for two years in order to obtain the research experience necessary to be highly competitive in the Biotechnology field. Students entering the program with a degree outside the sciences are likely to take longer to complete the required coursework.

Undergraduate minimum expected coursework for students seeking a M.S. in Biotechnology degree:

  • Calculus I & Statistics
  • General Biology (2 semesters or 3 quarters)
  • General Chemistry & lab (2 semesters or 2-3 quarters)
  • Genetics for science majors (1 semester or quarter)
  • Organic Chemistry & lab (1-2 semesters or 2-3 quarters)
  • Cell Biology or equivalent for science majors (1 semester or quarter; upper division preferred)
  • General Biochemistry (upper division; lecture & lab; at least 1 semester or quarter)
  • Molecular Biology (upper-division; lecture and lab; at least one semester or quarter)
  • Physics & lab (2 semesters or 3 quarters)
  • College-level English (2 semesters or 3 quarters)
  • Upper-division research (preferred minimum 2 semesters or 3 quarters or equivalent job experience)
  • Upper-division senior thesis (optional, but preferred)

Biotechnology Program Director

Christie Howard, Ph.D.
Location: 146D Howard Medical Sciences
Address: Department of Biochemistry | Mail Stop 0330 | Reno, NV 89557

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