Biotech Master’s Degrees at UW-Madison: In-Person or Online?

UW-Madison offers two separate biotechnology master’s degrees, one an in-person program and the other a fully online degree:

Both degree options allow you to work full time while completing your degree but offer quite distinct curricula and unique student experiences.

 

Overview of Degrees

In-person M.S. in Biotechnology Program

Launched in 2002

Administered by UW–Madison School of Medicine and Public Health

Courses taught by instructional teams of UW-Madison faculty from across the university:

  • The School of Medicine and Public Health
  • The School of Pharmacy
  • The Wisconsin School of Business
  • The Wisconsin Law School
  • The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Paired with adjunct professors from private industry, including leadership from the following companies:

DataChat, Empirico, Esker, Exact Sciences, Forward BIOLABS, Genus Plc, Illumina, Promega Corporation, the Vickroy Group

Three hands-on molecular technology laboratory courses are sited on the Promega Corporation campus through a partnership agreement with the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center Institute (BTC Institute), the non-profit educational arm supported by Promega.

Various global subject matter experts provide guest lectures throughout the curriculum, including class sessions with U.S. Government regulatory agencies:

  • United States Patent and Trademark Organization (USPTO)
  • United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Online M.S. in Applied Biotechnology

Launched in 2020

Administered by UW Extended Campus

Online courses delivered by academic faculty from seven UW System campuses, including UW-Madison:

  • UW-Green Bay
  • UW-Madison
  • UW-Oshkosh
  • UW-Parkside
  • UW-Platteville
  • UW-Stevens Point
  • UW-Whitewater

Different Admission Standards

In-person M.S. in Biotechnology Program

Admission Requirements

One- or two-years minimum industry experience in biotechnology (or related field) is heavily favored for admission; 3 letters of reference; statement of purpose; professional resume; unofficial transcript for highest earned degree; a 30-minute admission interview

A minimum of two semesters of college-level biology or chemistry courses are required.

Admission Timetable

Applications accepted year-round for Fall admission

Online M.S. in Applied Biotechnology

Admission Requirements

No work experience required for admission; 2 letters of recommendation; statement of purpose; professional resume; unofficial transcript for highest earned degree; no admission interview

A minimum of two semesters of college-level biology or chemistry courses are required.

Admission Timetable

Applications accepted year-round for Fall, Spring, and Summer admission

 

Different Degree Completion Times

In-person M.S. in Biotechnology Program

Degree Completion

34 credits total.

4 semesters in 21 months with the summer off between year 1 & 2

Degree Received

Master of Science in Biotechnology, UW-Madison

Online M.S. in Applied Biotechnology

Degree Completion

31 credits minimum.

5-10 semesters if working full time (dependent on self-selected course load and course offering availability).

Note: Students intending to enroll part-time (one 3-credit course per semester) will not be eligible to receive loans from the U.S. Federal student loan program.

Degree Received

Master of Science in Applied Biotechnology

Note: Applicants choose to apply to one of the seven collaborating UW System campuses. The university they apply to becomes their home school and the university from which their degree is issued.

Different Modes of Instruction and Course Schedules

In-person M.S. in Biotechnology Program

Mode of Instruction

In-person courses are held off-campus at the MGE Innovation Center in University Research Park. The laboratory courses are hosted at the BTC Institute in Fitchburg (10-minutes away).

Both locations are easily accessible with ample free parking.

Course Schedule

Seven evening/weekend (every other week) class sessions per semester:

  • Thursday, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
  • Friday, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Saturday, 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

All course offerings are guaranteed.

Nearly all students are working professionals maintaining full-time employment while completing the degree.

Online M.S. in Applied Biotechnology

Mode of Instruction

Fully online and asynchronous delivery:

  • No scheduled class meetings
  • Self-guided learning modules
  • Pre-recorded lectures
  • Weekly online assignments with hard deadlines

Course Schedule

Variable course offerings throughout Fall, Spring, and Summer semester.

Occasional course cancellations occur if not enough students are enrolled (can delay degree completion).

Students working full-time are recommended not to take more than two courses (6-credits) per semester.

Different Students, Interactions, and Experiences

In-person M.S. in Biotechnology Program

Fixed Student Cohorts

Fixed cohorts of 24-28 students complete the program together. Students begin the program in the fall and complete the degree together in under two years.

Diversity of industry experience, job function, and corporate affiliation strengthens the blended learning experience and reflects the cross-functional teams encountered in private industry.

Online M.S. in Applied Biotechnology

Fluid Student Population

Wide range of age, background, and experience. Some students begin immediately following their undergraduate degree and have no industry experience.

Students self-select their courses and course sizes will vary from single digit section sizes to a maximum of 30 students per section.

Different Curriculums

In-person M.S. in Biotechnology Program

A broad, interdisciplinary curriculum integrating science, business, regulatory policy and the law relating to new product development and product commercialization in the biotechnology industry with added emphasis on project management and organizational leadership.

Project-based assignments including individual, paired, and group analysis papers and presentations. Team projects exemplify real-world teams encountered in private industry, reinforcing professional application of the curriculum. No formal examinations or tests.

All courses are updated and revised annually to incorporate the latest advances in the biotechnology field.

Laboratory Courses

Three industry-sited, hands-on molecular technology lab courses covering Diagnostic Testing, Biomanufacturing, and Assay Development complement respective semester themes.

Capstone Thesis

Final semester Capstone master’s thesis with personalized mentorship provided by an assigned faculty pair for business and scientific guidance. A student’s capstone topic can be customized to enhance employer-related relevance and value.

Online M.S. in Applied Biotechnology

Six core courses with three specialization tracks to choose from:

  • Business Management, or
  • Research and Development, or
  • Quality Assurance and Compliance

Courses consist of self-guided learning models with pre-recorded lectures and assigned electronic readings. Weekly assignments are a mix of discussion board postings, peer review papers, and recorded presentations. Mostly individual assignments. Team projects are infrequent.

All courses receive scheduled content revisions every three years.

Laboratory Courses

No laboratory courses.

Capstone Thesis

Required Pre-Capstone and Capstone courses with self-directed projects. Students are responsible for finding project mentors and corporate sponsors.

Different Student Services and Career Support

In-person M.S. in Biotechnology Program

Student Services

Program-based staff serve as a liaison between students and UW-Madison campus administrative units. Student services are designed for both students and their employers with expert biotechnology industry knowledge and insight.

Professional Networking

Extensive networking opportunities between students, university and industry faculty, staff, national guest speakers, >400 alumni, corporate sponsored research partners, and sponsored conferences.

Lifelong professional development opportunities, including annual program-related alumni and student engagements and program sponsored offerings to annual events, including BioForward’s Wisconsin Biohealth Symposium, the Wisconsin Stem Cell Symposium, and the Wisconsin Human Proteomics Symposium.

Career Support

Embedded student career support provided by faculty and staff while in the program, with lifelong career support offered after graduation. Continuous job opportunity sharing and in-network referrals.

Online M.S. in Applied Biotechnology

Student Services

Student success coaches available to all online students by UW Extended Campus.

Professional Networking

Networking through online student portal.

Career Support

Virtual student events sponsored by UW Extended Campus.

Different Tuitions

In-person M.S. in Biotechnology Program

4 x $10,500 per semester ($42,000 total)

Online M.S. in Applied Biotechnology

Minimum of 31 credits x $850 per credit hour ($26,350 total)

Different Websites

In-person M.S. in Biotechnology Program

M.S. in Biotechnology Program Homepage

https://ms-biotech.wisc.edu

 

Online M.S. in Applied Biotechnology

UW Extended Campus Homepage

https://appliedbiotechnology.wisconsin.edu

UW-Madison Degree Homepage

https://appliedbiotechnology.wisc.edu

Need Help Deciding Which Degree Is Right for You?

Contact the UW-Madison Biotechnology Master’s Team