UMBC Biotech Master’s Program Equips Professionals with Skills for Success

Are you currently working at a life science or biotechnology company and looking to gain new skills that will take your career to the next level? Or perhaps you’re in a different field altogether and wanting to make a career jump?

If this sounds like you, look no further than the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

UMBC’s Biotechnology Master’s program provides specialized training that not only teaches students the latest skills and trends in biotech, but equips them to be successful in sought-after management and leadership roles.

The program was initially started in 2009 at UMBC’s main campus in Catonsville, making the move to Rockville’s UMBC-Shady Grove campus in Fall 2019 to be closer to the hub of all the life science action in the BioHealth Capital Region.

 “This specialized Master’s degree that dovetails with our Bachelor of Science in Translational Life Science Technology provides a continuous educational pathway to address critical workforce needs in the region,” says Dr. Annica Wayman, Associate Dean for Shady Grove Affairs in the science College at UMBC.

Here are just a few reasons to consider UMBC’s Biotechnology Master’s program.

1) You’ll Learn Firsthand from the Industry Experts

Not only will you take courses that are highly relevant to biotechnology, such as upstream/downstream processing, quality control, quality assurance, GMP, and regulatory issues, but courses are taught by subject matter experts who work in industry themselves. This not only means that you receive top-notch training, but it also ensures course topics stay fresh.

As further testament to their commitment for excellence, UMBC also recently formed an advisory committee comprised of local industry leaders representing companies such as American Gene Technologies, GlaxoSmithKline, Kite Pharma, AstraZeneca, among others, to ensure that the biotechnology curriculum aligns to current industry trends.

2) UMBC’s Flexible Curriculum is Designed Around Your Busy Schedule

Let’s face it – while many people are interested in the idea of continuing their education, juggling schoolwork with other commitments, such as a career and family, is a major barrier.

UMBC knows this and, in turn, has tailored its curriculum with busy professionals in mind. Classes are held in the evenings and are mostly virtual – and UMBC plans to keep it that way as COVID subsides.  On average, it takes about two years to complete the program.

And for those who might not be able to commit to a full Master’s, UMBC also offers two graduate certificate programs – one in Biotechnology Management, and the other in Biochemical Regulatory Engineering. These certificates take about a year to complete. And, of course, classes can also be taken on an individual non-degree basis as well if you’re interested in a particular subject area.

3) UMBC Offers a High-Quality Education at a Manageable Tuition

The 2022 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges ranking named UMBC a leading U.S. university, and just this past February UMBC was named an R1 research university.

For Maryland and nearby regional residents, tuition is $696.84 per credit, and for non-residents is $1,169.84 per credit, making UMBC a more affordable option for those who want to get high-quality biotechnology training at a fraction of the cost of other universities. Tuition assistance is also available for those who qualify.

4) You’ll develop lasting relationships with your peers

As of March 2022, there are currently 35 students enrolled in the Master’s program, with many students coming from international backgrounds. The small class size means that there are plenty of opportunities to get to know your fellow classmates and build your professional community from not only across the nation, but across the world.

Furthermore, some of the classes are taught in a seminar-style format, with professors bringing in guest speakers from different facets of the industry. This provides additional opportunities for making connections and networking with professionals at all career levels.

5) UMBC Graduates Come Out on Top

We spoke to a few recent and soon-to-be graduates of the program to learn more about how their Master’s degree has prepared them for their next step.

Michele Darbeau is a 2020 Biotechnology graduate and is currently a General Engineer at the U.S. FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “As a recent 2020 graduate of UMBC’s Biotechnology program with a non-traditional background, my career goals were carefully groomed to ignite my professional entry into a highly emerging and innovative life science field. My decision to enroll in the program offered me an important alternative benefit that other master’s degree programs or Ph.D. programs lacked,” she said. “It uniquely offered a supportive, dual-purpose learning partnership where I was able to gain core life science education inside the classroom and simultaneously in real-world environments. By strategic design, the program’s collaborative course content comprises a seamless partnership between faculty and industry, which was instrumental in helping me develop the necessary STEM workplace skills highly valued by hiring employers. Also, the program’s key priority in integrating public and private sector leaders from industry, business, government, and non-profit organizations offered me multiple opportunities to hear different viewpoints and experiences.”

Michele Darbeau, a 2020 MPS Biotechnology graduate (SOURCE: Michele Darbeau)

Michele added, “Further, I was able to stay apprised of high-quality, real-time emerging scientific developments and technology with direct implications and application in the biotechnology industry that could not be taught from any textbook, such as the ongoing COVID19 pandemic. Lastly, the cooperative nature of the program offered me direct networking opportunities with high-level stakeholders in the biotechnology arena, and positively informed my decision to join the public sector after graduation. I encourage you to catapult your life science career by attending an upcoming UMBC Biotechnology Graduate Program open house today to get more information!”

Timothy Ho, a soon-to-be graduate, writes, “The UMBC Biotechnology graduate program has had a huge impact on my career. Through the program I learned more about the pharmaceutical industry, and it helped me gain a better understanding of what went on at my current jobs. I was able to grasp a better understanding of my role within AstraZeneca and the decision made by my managers. The program also help me to identify potential career paths as I went into the pharmaceutical industry with little knowledge.”

Ready to take the next steps toward advancing your career? UMBC is currently accepting applications now for the summer (domestic students only) and fall (domestic AND international students).

Applicants are considered based on their entire application package, so a weak area, such as low GPA, does not disqualify if other areas are strong. Applicants also do not need to have a Bachelor’s degree in a scientific field to be considered – they can hold any type of Bachelor’s degree as long as they’ve fulfilled certain basic science course requirements. GRE scores are also not required.

Apply now:

Michele Darbeau Disclaimer: “Although I am an FDA/CTP employee, this opinion is not part of my official duties. This opinion reflects my views and should not be construed to reflect the FDA/CTP’s views or policies.