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Molecular Biology Degree

Molecular biology is the study of cells from a genetic and biological standpoint. This study has ramifications for a wide range of disciplines such as medicine, pharmacology, biotechnology, alternative energy and agriculture.
Molecular biology programs are offered at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. Due to the nature of this discipline and the large amount of lab time students need during its study, there is no 100% online degree in this field. There may however be certain hybrid programs which incorporate both online and on-campus learning strategies.

What is Molecular Biology?

Molecular biology is the study of cells. This includes everything from what cells are, how they come together, how they work, how they differ from each other, how they associate and interact, and what goes wrong in the event that there is a disease.
This study and research into cells and their many functions and behaviors allows molecular biologists to predict how cells will behave in diseased states and create effective ways to correct these states.

Molecular Biology Degree Types

The study of molecular biology involves topical lectures, intensive research, and practical hands-on laboratory studies. With a bachelor’s degree, individuals may seek a number of entry level positions in the field. Further study allows you to explore better job options. At the graduate and doctoral levels, students may choose a specific area of microbiology to specialize in. These programs have extensive research requirements and students must complete a thesis on an original piece of research at the end.

Bachelor’s Degree in Molecular Biology

A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Molecular Biology is focused on how cells grow, react, adapt, reproduce and mutate. Students can expect to learn the basics of cell structure and molecular biology, and carry out extensive practical work in laboratories.
The program typically takes 4 years to complete.
Entry Requirements

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • A strong background in the sciences, especially biology (recommended)

In this degree program students will have to take a mixture of general requirement courses as well as courses specifically related to their major.
Students can expect to take the following courses in this molecular biology program:

  • Biology of the cell
  • Genetics and molecular biology
  • Introduction to molecular biology
  • Fundamentals of biochemistry
  • Chemistry
  • Organic chemistry

Master’s Degree in Molecular Biology

A Master of Science in Molecular Biology affords students with advanced training within the field. The focus of study is on researching the cell from a biological, chemical, genetic, and medical point of view. The program also aims to further develop a student’s analytical and critical thinking skills. Students may also tailor the program to a specific concentration area within the field to suit their career goals.
This degree typically takes 2 years to complete.
Entry requirements

  • A bachelor’s degree in molecular biology or a related field
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Minimum GPA as determined by the program you are applying to

At the graduate level, students are given the chance to focus their study on a specific concentration area within molecular biology. As such, the curriculum of graduate programs will vary depending upon a student’s area of concentration.  The program concludes with a thesis research project.
Generally, the following courses may be taken at this level:

  • Advanced molecular biology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Medicine and molecular biology
  • Molecular biology in DNA and RNA

Ph.D. in Molecular Biology

A Doctor of Philosophy in molecular biology is intended to prepare students for a career in academia or advanced research and laboratory experimentation.
This program typically takes 3-5 years to complete.

Entry requirements

  • A master’s degree in molecular biology or a related field
  • Professional experience in the field of molecular biology
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores

At the doctoral stage, students may choose to focus on a specific concentration area in molecular biology in order to prepare for their culminating original dissertation.
Common courses offered at this stage include:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Computational biology
  • Organic mechanisms
  • Genetic analysis
  • Biomedical ethics
  • Macromolecular structure

Job Prospects and Salary

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • In 2012, the annual median salary for biochemists and biophysicists, including molecular biologists, was $81,480
  • The top ten percent of biochemists and biophysicists, including molecular biologists, earned more than $147,350
  • According to BLS, the projected rate of employment growth for these professionals between 2012-22 is 19%. This is much higher than the average rate of growth for most professions, which is 11%.
  • In 2012, the annual median salaries for biochemists and biophysicists, including molecular biologists, in the top five industries which hired them were:
Drugs and druggists' sundries merchant wholesalers $103,390
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 86,530
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing 82,490
Testing laboratories 74,230
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 52,990

Source: BLS

Molecular biology is a dynamic field that has ramifications for many different disciplines, including medicine. Molecular biologists are concerned with the study of cells, their formations, behavior, etc. Students interested in pursuing molecular biology as a career should be prepared for a highly research intensive approach to studying. Molecular biology can be taken as a subject at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.




Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:How long does it take to get molecular biology degree?

A:The duration of a molecular biology degree will basically depend on the degree-level you are pursuing. An associate degree in this field can take around two years to complete whereas a bachelor degree will take four years. At graduate level, a masters degree in molecular biology will take two years to complete and a doctorate degree can take anywhere from four to eight years.

Q:What courses I will study in molecular biology degree?

A:There are a variety of courses you would study in a molecular biology degree. These include the likes of introductory molecular biology course, genetics and molecular biology, computational molecular biology, molecular foundations of pharmacology and so on. Studies in molecular biology revolve around the areas of chemistry, biology and bio-informatics.

Q:What are the requirements of molecular biology degree?

A:The degree requirements will basically depend on the degree-level you are pursuing. Most programs will have the following requirements: accumulation of a minimum number of credit hours, completion of coursework and assignments, and acquiring a minimum CGPA. You can check with prospective schools to learn more about the program requirements as they may vary slightly from place to place.

Q:What can you do with a molecular biology degree?

A:A degree in molecular biology can open doors to a number of different careers. You can choose to work in different sectors such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals, research, biotechnology, genetic engineering, etc. Some of the job positions you can consider are: biotechnologist, research technician, and microbiologist. The income will vary from place to place.

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