A Graduate Program in Biotechnology

Last updated: July 18, 2019 at 9:01 PM

Programs of Study
  • Master of Science

Biotechnology is a rapidly growing sector of the United States and global economies. Its products are increasingly important in diagnosis, prevention and treatment of disease. The Master of Science Program in Biotechnology at Brandeis University was developed to equip students with skills to enter and advance in this dynamic industry.

The program provides student-centered, interdisciplinary training in the biological sciences and in business, drawing upon the world-class Life Science departments and International Business School at Brandeis University. The two-year program integrates laboratory training through Research Project Labs with a summer internship in an industrial or academic setting. Skills are developed step-by-step, and reinforced in multiple elements of the curriculum. Professional development opportunities include seminars and meetings with experienced workers in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medical research from the thriving Massachusetts life sciences community.

Learning Goals


Students who complete the Professional Science Master’s Program in Biotechnology successfully will demonstrate knowledge of the following:

  1. Molecular biology that is fundamental to biotechnology, including PCR, cloning, sequencing, western blots, Southern and northern blots, microarray techniques, transgenic organisms, gene therapy, and control of gene expression by CRISPR and RNAi.
  2. Major sectors of the biotechnology industry, including their research and development timelines, financing, and regulatory processes.
  3. Core principles of accounting, finance, organizational behavior, human resources management, strategy, project management, and marketing.
  4. Intellectual property and patents.


Students who complete the Professional Science Master’s Program in Biotechnology successfully will develop skills in these areas:

  1. Using modern biological research techniques, including recombinant DNA methods.
  2. Collecting and analyzing quantitative data, and creating visual representations of data.
  3. Reading and evaluating print and online sources including peer-reviewed publications, science and business journalism and blogs.
  4. Critical thinking about management problems, and developing solutions to problems based upon business principles.
  5. Communicating effectively about scientific observations and opinions, and about business ideas to expert and general audiences both orally and in writing.
  6. Marketing themselves effectively using resumés and cover letters and at interviews.

Social Justice

Students who complete the Professional Science Master’s Program in Biotechnology successfully will be aware of ethical norms and societal implications of the biotechnology industry and be prepared to evaluate these factors when making decisions in these areas:

  1. Planning, doing, and reporting scientific research.
  2. Working in management.
How to Be Admitted to the Graduate Program

The general requirements for admission to the Graduate School, given in an earlier section of this Bulletin, apply to candidates for admission to this area of study. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is required for all applicants except for Brandeis undergraduates applying to the five-year B.A./M.S. or B.S./M.S. Applicants must have completed two semesters each of college-level courses in biology and chemistry, with laboratories. Courses in organic chemistry, economics or business may be helpful but are not required.


Neil Simister, Director, Professional Science Master's Program in Biotechnology

Instructional Faculty

Brenda Anderson, Senior Lecturer
(Heller School, International Business School)

Sava Berhané, Senior Lecturer
(International Business School)

Carole Carlson, Senior Lecturer and MBA Program Director
(Heller School)

Jane Ebert, Associate Professor of Marketing in the Brandeis International Business School
(International Business School)

Ben Gomes-Casseres, Professor of International Business
(International Business School)

Lisbeth Hedstrom, Professor of Biology

Jody Hoffer Gittell, Professor
(Heller School)

James La Creta, Program Chair for the Information Technology Management program and Instructor
(Rabb School)

Susan Lovett, Abraham S. and Gertrude Burg Professor of Microbiology

Michael Marr, Associate Professor of Biology

Kene Piasta, Lecturer

Charles Reed, Senior Lecturer
(International Business School)

Vincent Sutera, Lecturer

Emily Westover, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry

Rachel Woodruff, Assistant Professor of Biology

Grace Zimmerman, Professor of the Practice of Marketing
(International Business School)

Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Biotechnology

Program of Study

The program provides interdisciplinary, professionally-oriented training in biotechnology, stressing both science and business concepts. Mastery of the field of biotechnology will be taught both in the classroom and through hands-on laboratory work. In addition, students will build professional skills in data analysis, searching and reading the scientific literature, scientific writing, oral presentation and teamwork.

The program includes a summer internship at a biotechnology or pharmaceutical company or non-profit research center or in one of many biological sciences research laboratories on the Brandeis campus. Research areas on campus include genetics, molecular biology, developmental biology, cell biology, chemical biology, biophysics, structural biology, immunology, and neurobiology. Students should enroll in BIOT 212a for credit for the internship.

A total of twelve other 4-credit courses are required for the program. Four lecture courses are mandatory for all biotechnology students. These are BIOL 101a Molecular Biotechnology*, BIOL 205a Masters Proseminar, BIOT 201b Business of Biotechnology, and BIOT 203b Fundamentals of Management for Biotechnology.
*Students who previously have taken a course equivalent to BIOL 101a Molecular Biotechnology may substitute an elective course with the consent of the program directors.

Two laboratory courses are mandatory, BIOL 151a Protein Biochemistry Laboratory and BIOL 156a Biotechnology Project Laboratory.

BIOL 156a Project Laboratory in Biotechnology is mandatory. A second advanced lab is also required, e.g. BIOL 155a Project Laboratory in Genetics and Genomics or BIOL 159a Project Laboratory in Microbiology. If taken at Brandeis University in the first year, and with permission of the program directors, BIOT 293a Biotechnology Research or BIOL 298a Independent Study in Molecular and Cell Biology may be counted as the second advanced lab.

All students will take two biology, biochemistry, or chemistry electives numbered higher than 100 and one business elective‡. The remaining courses may be additional biology, biochemistry, or chemistry electives (as above), or relevant business‡, computer science, economics, or sociology courses as well as relevant courses in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, at appropriate levels approved by the program directors, or additional laboratory courses. The laboratory courses may be additional project laboratories (usually numbered BIOL 150-159) or research in laboratories approved by the program directors (students should enroll in Biotechnology Research, BIOT 293).
‡Two 2-credit business modules, e.g. BUS 226f Managing Global Human Capital, BUS 228f Management Communication, may be taken in place of a 4-credit course.

In addition, all students are required to take CONT 300b Responsible Conduct of Science or attend the comparable Division of Science Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) workshop, offered in the spring.

Students may not take more than four 4-credit courses in any semester without permission of the director.

Students must receive grades of B- or better in all courses and may be terminated from the program if their academic records are unsatisfactory. In order to earn the Master of Science degree, the student must complete a minimum of 54 credits.

Residence Requirement

The minimum residence requirement is two years.

Five-year Combined BA/MS or BS/MS Program in Biotechnology

This combined degree program allows students to complete the full master’s program in biotechnology with one additional year of graduate study after earning a BA or BS degree at Brandeis. Requirements for the bachelor's degree, defined by the College of Arts and Sciences, remain unaffected by participation in this program. Students who successfully complete the five-year program must receive the bachelor's degree by the end of their fourth year and will matriculate in the Graduate School in the fifth year.

Applicants must demonstrate (through their transcripts and in their application statement of purpose) that they can complete the requirements for a bachelor’s degree while pursuing the courses of the full Year 1 master's degree in biotechnology curriculum. Students may achieve the bachelor’s degree in any major, but must have completed one full year of introductory biology and laboratory (BIOL 14a, 15b, BIOL 18a,b) and introductory chemistry and laboratory (CHEM 11a,b or CHEM 15a,b and CHEM 18a,b or CHEM 19a,b) to qualify for admission into the 5-year program.

Students interested in this option should apply to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences by March 1 of their junior year using the links on the biotechnology program website. If accepted into the program, students will be expected to take the six required courses of the Biotechnology Year 1 program, plus CONT 300b (Responsible Conduct of Science) or attend the comparable Division of Science Responsible Conduct of Research workshop, in their senior year. Students may elect one additional course of their choosing each semester to complete any bachelor’s degree requirements. At the end of the first year in the combined program, student progress will be evaluated by the program directors. At the discretion of the Biotechnology program directors, any students who did not perform satisfactorily in the Biotechnology program courses in that year may not be allowed to proceed to the fifth year of the program.

Brandeis 5-year degree students will then continue with the biotechnology summer internship and enter the Year 2 master’s degree in biotechnology curriculum in the summer immediately after their 4th year. In order to earn the Master of Science degree, the student must complete a minimum of 30 credits in their 5th year.

Requirements for the Dual Degree of Master of Science in Biotechnology and Master of Business Administration

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University has offered an MBA degree since 1998. The Heller MBA in Non-Profit Management, with its specialization in Healthcare Management, primarily prepares students for work in organizations that manage healthcare delivery, research and policy (hospitals, insurance companies, biotech research and the like). The opportunity for Biotechnology MS students to acquire additional leading edge management skills via the Heller MBA, with its deep expertise in healthcare management, is intended to position them for significant leadership roles in a broad range of organizations in biotechnology and healthcare.

Program of Study

Students admitted into this dual degree program must fulfill the following core requirements (84 credits), along with 8 credits in science electives and 4 credits in management electives, for a total of 96 credits taken over six consecutive semesters. Students may choose to begin the program with either the MS in Biotechnology or the Heller MBA track. Dual Heller MBA/Biotechnology MS applicants must fulfill all requirements for admission to both programs. Students already enrolled in the Biotechnology MS program who desire to enter the MBA program will be required to take the GMAT or GRE.

The core requirements for the dual degree are shown as follows:

MBA Core Requirements

HS 250a Financial Accounting, HS 258a Operations Management, HS 290a Economic Analysis for Managers, HS 253b Leadership and Organizational Behavior, HS 513a Issues in National Health Policy, HS 518a Management of Healthcare Organizations, HS 246b Statistics, HS 251b Managerial Accounting, HS 248b Financial Management, HS 252b Strategic Management, HS 285a Marketing, HS 215b Corporate Finance, HS 347a Healthcare Technology and Information Systems, HRNS/HS 232a Team Consulting Project Workshop*, and HS 299b Team Consulting Project.

Biotechnology Core Requirements

BIOL 101a Molecular Biotechnology, BIOL 151a Project Lab in Protein Biochemistry, BIOL 156a Biotechnology Project Laboratory, BIOL 205a Masters Proseminar, BIOT 201b Business of Biotechnology, BIOT 203a Management for Biotechnology, and BCHM 100a Introductory Biochemistry or BIOL 100b Advanced Cell Biology or BIOL 102b Structural Molecular Biology or BIOL 103b Mechanisms of Cell Function, and additionally the Division of Science CONT 300b Responsible Conduct of Science or comparable Division of Science Responsible Conduct of Research workshop (non-credit) usually offered in the spring.
*By the time enrolled students take MBA Team Consulting Project courses, they are required to have taken at least two full semesters of required MBA courses.

Optional Thesis in Biotechnology

With approval of the supervising Brandeis faculty member and the chair of the program, Biotechnology MS, BS/MS, or MS/MBA track students have the option to write a Master’s Thesis (BIOT 299a) following completion of at least two full semesters of BIOT 293a Biotechnology Research, provided that the research was performed in a single laboratory at Brandeis. Those who wish to complete a Master’s Thesis must obtain approval in the semester prior to when they will register for BIOT 299a (by November 1st if completing the thesis in the spring semester and by March 1st if completing the thesis in the fall semester). BIOT 299a,b will not count towards degree requirements. After completion and approval, the thesis must be deposited electronically in the Robert D. Farber University Archives at Brandeis.

Courses of Instruction

(200 and above) Primarily for Graduate Students

BIOT 201b Business of Biotechnology
Prerequisite: BIOT 203b or permission of the instructor.
Biotechnology industries are based upon recombinant DNA methodology. Most are in areas of medicine, agriculture, and manufacturing. Business of Biotechnology gives an overview of these sectors and introduces their research and development models, regulation, financing, and marketing. Usually offered every year.
Neil Simister

BIOT 203b Fundamentals of Management for Biotechnology
Prerequisite: BIOL 205a or permission of the instructor.
Introduces basic business concepts and tools, with an emphasis on the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. It provides an overview of accounting, alliances, entrepreneurship, ethics, finance, human capital, leadership, marketing, mergers and acquisitions, organizational behavior, project management, and strategy. Usually offered every year.
Neil Simister

BIOT 212a Biotechnology Internship
Prerequisites: BIOL 156a and BIOT 200a and permission of the instructor. Yields 12 semester-hour credits.
Biotechnology Internship is a real-world workplace experience. Students work in industrial or academic laboratories or in managerial positions in biotechnology or related industries. The internship is an opportunity to develop professional skills, explore career paths, and make connections with employers. Usually offered every year.
Neil Simister

BIOT 293a Biotechnology Research
Prerequisites: BIOL 156a and BIOT 200a. Approval of the Program Director is required. May be repeated for credit up to three times.
Students in the MS Program in Biotechnology work in industrial or academic laboratories in biotechnology or related areas for a minimum of 10 hours per week for 12 weeks. Usually offered every year.
Neil Simister

BIOT 299a Master's Thesis Research
Usually offered every year.

BIOT 299b Master's Thesis Research
Usually offered every year.

Courses of Related Interest

BCHM 100a Advanced Introductory Biochemistry
[ qr sn ]
Prerequisite: One year of organic chemistry with laboratory.
Topics include protein and nucleic acid structure; chemical basis of enzyme-catalyzed reaction mechanisms and enzyme kinetics; the chemical logic of metabolic pathways, including glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation; and regulation of enzymatic pathways through allosteric control. Usually offered every year in multiple sections.
Emily Westover

BIBC 126b Molecular Mechanisms of Disease
[ sn ]
Prerequisite: BCHM 88b or BCHM 100a. May not be taken for credit by students who took BIOL 126b in prior years.
Explores biochemical changes—in proteins, enzymes and metabolic pathways—that underlie human diseases. Examines molecular mechanisms for a variety of diseases, with a particular focus on molecular mechanisms for therapies. Draws heavily on current literature. Usually offered every second year.
Emily Westover

BIOL 100b Advanced Cell Biology
[ sn ]
Prerequisites: BIOL 14a and BIOL 15b.
An advanced course on cell biology. Topics include structure and organization of the cell, principles of signal transduction, and cell division and proliferation. Usually offered every year.
Avital Rodal

BIOL 101a Molecular Biotechnology
[ sn ]
Prerequisite: BIOL 14a.
Develops knowledge and skills to research, choose and interpret the bext experimental approaches for answering research questions in molecular biology. Studies molecular biology techniques such as PCR, DNA sequencing, genomics, cloning, microarrays, and CRISPR, and their research applications. Usually offered every year.
Rachel Woodruff

BIOL 102b Structural Molecular Biology
[ sn ]
Prerequisites: BIOL 14a and BIOL 15b, or permission of the instructor.
Cells are filled with machines that carry materials about the cell, that chemically transform molecules, that transduce energy, and much more. Our understanding of how these machines work depends on understanding their structures. This introduction to the structural basis of molecular biology examines the designs of proteins, their folding and assembly, and the means whereby we visualize these structures. Usually offered every second year.
Melissa Kosinski-Collins

BIOL 103b Mechanisms of Cell Functions
[ sn ]
Prerequisite: BIOL 100b.
Focuses on the mechanistic basis of cell biological processes, with a heavy emphasis on how they are elucidated experimentally. Classic and modern research papers are used to illustrate a range of genetic, biochemical, and imaging-based experimental approaches. Topics include cell compartmentalization, membrane traffic, cytoskeleton, cell motility, and cell division. The primary learning goal is to understand how the scientific method is applied in cell biology research. Intended for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Usually offered every year.
Bruce Goode

BIOL 132a General Microbiology
[ sn ]
Prerequisites: BIOL 14a, BIOL 15b, and CHEM 25a. May not be taken for credit by students who took BIOL 71a in prior years.
Topics include the physiology and properties of bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms; microbial nutrition, metabolism, growth; bacterial genetics; horizontal gene transfer; microbial pathogenesis; immunity; antibiotics and other means of microbial control. Usually offered every year.
Susan Lovett

BIOL 151a Project Laboratory in Protein Biochemistry
[ sn ]
Prerequisites: BCHM 88b or BCHM 100b (recommended), BIOL 14a, BIOL 15b, BIOL 18a and 18b, and BIOL 156a.
Features experiments in protein biochemistry that are fundamental to the field of biotechnology. These include protein purification, characterization and quality assessment. Focus is placed on designing purification protocols for both tagged and untagged proteins using biochemical knowledge. The designed protocols are tested by purifying known proteins. As part of the course, students will contribute to research projects of unknown outcome by purifying and assaying novel proteins. Usually offered every year.
Kene Piasta

BIOL 156a Project Laboratory in Biotechnology
[ sn ]
Prerequisite: BIOL 18a and b, BIOL 14a and BIOL 15b or equivalents. Course fee: $150.
Encompasses the many facets that may present themselves to a researcher working in a laboratory setting. The primary goal of this course is to teach current methods in molecular biology in order to establish a foundational skill set that makes a student viable in today's research market. Along with this, enhancing the written format of acquired data, the art of presenting this data and scientific writing is also emphasized. Though the course meets during its scheduled time, the experimental designs contribute to real research projects from laboratories in the Biology department so that additional work will be required during off days and weekends depending on your time management. This time commitment simulates a research environment where students are responsible for their own experiments in order to prepare them for both a career in science and allow them to fully understand what attributes are necessary to be competent in the field of research. Students will be required to perform tasks when the class is not in session. Some of the techniques taught will include DNA isolation, DNA sequence analysis, generation of mutations, recombinant DNA cloning, RNA isolation, polymerase chain reaction including real-time quantitative PCR, yeast two hybrid systems, screening chemical libraries, Gateway & Gibson cloning techniques, bacterial & yeast strain constructions and DNA/RNA hybridization methods. There is a possible option of continuing the project as an independent researcher in the spring depending on the student and nature of the project. Currently we are massing useable data from past classes for publication purposes. This class has a large time commitment both during and outside of class time and should not be taken in conjunction with other research laboratories or internships. Please note that one of the goals of this course is to help place you in or on the career path you desire. Usually offered every year. Usually offered every year.
Vincent Sutera

BIOL 159a Project Laboratory in Microbiology
[ sn ]
Prerequisites: BIOL 18a and b. Laboratory fee: $150 per semester.
A discovery-based laboratory to study the diversity of microorganisms in particular environments. We will isolate microbes with ability to metabolize complex compounds from special environments, characterize their properties and identify them by DNA sequence analysis. This course will teach the fundamentals of microbiology through hands-on activities. Usually offered every year.
Deanni Cooper

BUS 226f Managing Global Human Capital
Meets for one-half semester and yields half-course credit.
An introduction to the strategic role international human resource management plays in creating competitive advantages for firms. Topics include global strategies for Employment, Compensation, Leadership Development, and Policies and Procedures. Students will learn the nuances of managing human capital in multinational firms. Not offered in 2019-2020.
Detlev Suderow

BUS 230a Entrepreneurship
Addresses the fundamentals of starting and growing a business, including entrepreneurial finance and financial management. Covers theory and practice and includes presentations by speakers engaged in entrepreneurship, underwriting, and venture capital. The major assignment is a team project to construct a business plan for a startup company using actual data. Usually offered every year.
Charles Reed

BUS 254a Branding Strategy
Prerequisite: BUS 252a.
Examines the value of building, sustaining, and communicating a company's brand and its value proposition through promotional activities and channels of distribution. A competitive, online simulation is used to enhance case studies. Usually offered every year.
Grace Zimmerman

BUS 257f Social Media and Advertising
Meets for one-half semester and yields half-course credit.
Explores the activities a company undertakes to educate, engage and prompt to action its various target customer segments. Topics include advertising, promotions, event sponsorship, internet marketing, social media marketing, corporate blogs, word-of-mouth advertising, and marketing communications for social initiatives. Usually offered every year.
David Shaby

BUS 258f Sales and Sales Management
Meets for one-half semester and yields half-course credit.
Explores concepts and techniques for professional sales and sales management. Includes strategies for maximizing revenue and customer satisfaction while optimizing costs to sell, service and maintain customer relationships. Usually offered every year.
Grace Zimmerman

BUS 260a Competition and Strategy
Introduces frameworks for analyzing industries and firm competitive advantage and reviews key concepts in business strategy. Uses case method to practice strategic thinking and team projects to practice business research. Core for MBA students and recommended for other business students. Usually offered every year.
Benjamin Gomes-Casseres

CBIO 106b Chemical Biology: Medicinal Enzymology
[ sn ]
Prerequisites: Satisfactory grade in BIOL 14a, BIOL 15b, CHEM 25a and 25b, and BCHM 100a or the equivalent.
Introduces students to the conceptual framework and experimental methods in medicinal chemistry. Topics include mechanisms of drug-target interactions, strategies for lead optimization and issues in metabolism, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Readings drawn from textbooks and the original scientific literature. Usually offered every second year.
Lizbeth Hedstrom