Biotechnology B.S.

The Biotechnology Program, part of the College of Arts and Sciences, combines the best features of large and small university programs. Many of its faculty members are nationally or internationally known for their work, and several have experience in the pharmaceutical industry or with government regulations. The program has a dedicated teaching staff which provides mentoring through the small size of its classes. The faculty in the program shares the common goal of providing rigorous practical training in a collegial and supportive atmosphere.

Biotechnology "is technology based on biology; biotechnology harnesses cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technologies and products that help improve our lives and the health of our planet." (Biotechnology Innovation Organization)

The best preparation for the major is rigorous course work in science and math at the high school level. The Biotechnology B.S. degree is designed to give students a background in the sciences necessary for a career in pharmaceutical or biotechnological industries. Students trained in biotechnology can also pursue training in graduate or professional schools. In Biotechnology, students learn about cells, proteins, genes, and other topics critical to careers in scientific fields.

For undergraduates, the Biotechnology Program offers a B.S. degree in Biotechnology, a B.A. major in Biotechnology, and an option to minor in Biotechnology.

Coursework

Getting started

Your starting point for a degree in Biotechnology is to take the following courses:

  • CHEM-C 117 Principles of Chemistry and Biochemistry I
  • CHEM-C 127 Principles of Chemistry and Biochemistry I Laboratory
  • MATH-M 211 Calculus I or MATH-M 119 Brief Survey of Calculus I

Majors typically take BIOL-L 112 Foundations of Biology: Biological Mechanisms in the second semester of freshman year.

The Biotechnology Program also offers BIOT-T 105 Biotechnology and Society, a course designed primarily for freshmen and sophomores interested in exploring the field.

Students pursuing the Biotechnology major or minor may take BIOT-T 215 Diagnostic and Forensic Biotechnology Laboratory and BIOT-T 270 Alcohol and the Science of Fermentation.

For students with a strong high school science background, HON-H 241, Topic: Biological Processes and Drugs, is offered in the Hutton Honors College.

Tracks and concentrations

The Biotechnology Program offers two degree options: A B.S. degree in Biotechnology and a B.A. major in Biotechnology. The Biotechnology majors are designed to give students a background in the sciences with a focus on the biology and chemistry necessary for a career in pharmaceutical or biotechnological industries.

The B.S. degree in Biotechnology provides students with fundamental training in basic scientific principles as well as specific concepts, techniques, and applications used in biotechnology. B.S. in Biotechnology graduates will be trained to work in biotechnology and related industries, including the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries; enroll in graduate programs (M.S. or Ph.D.) in Biotechnology or related fields such as Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Genetics, and Biochemistry; or pursue advanced professional degrees such as M.D. (Medicine), M.B.A. (Business), or J.D. (Law) with an emphasis on biotechnology issues. The B.S. is a rigorous degree that provides an excellent preparation for medical school, dental school, and graduate school, as well as jobs in the life sciences.

The B.A. major in Biotechnology seeks to prepare students for needs of numerous life science businesses. The B.A. curriculum is designed for students who do not seek a profession focused at the laboratory bench, but will provide rigorous training to pursue aspects of biotechnology such as pharmaceutical sales, marketing, technical writing, or data specializations. Completing a major in Biotechnology would be advantageous to those who are planning to undertake non-research-oriented business or sales opportunities in the life sciences. Students may combine a major in Biotechnology with a double major in Biology, Chemistry, or Biochemistry.

Students may also pursue a combined Bachelor and Master of Science (B.S./M.S.) degree in Biotechnology. The combined B.S./M.S. degree is designed to maximize research opportunities for the program's outstanding students. Students interested in this five-year combined undergraduate/graduate degree program will apply for admission to the degree program after their sophomore year. Admitted B.S./M.S. students will be accepted into individual research laboratories to undertake independent research projects under the supervision of faculty members, advanced graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows.

We also offer a Minor in Biotechnology for students obtaining a degree in other fields who want exposure to the rapidly growing and highly employable biotechnology field.

Contact the academic advisor to discuss your options and goals within the program.

Upper level coursework

In developing the Biotechnology curriculum, the faculty in the Biotechnology Program have worked closely with life sciences industry representatives to design a modern state-of-the-art curriculum that is highly valued by the life sciences industry.

The inclusion of industry representatives ensures that the curriculum provides a graduating class that meets the needs and expectations of employers. The advisory board consists of leaders from various biotech industries. They provide input on the curriculum and serve as contacts for internships and other opportunities for students.

All B.S. majors complete

  • BIOT-T 301 Seminar in Biotechnology
  • BIOT-T 310 Biotechnology Lecture
  • BIOT-T 312 Societal Issues in Biotechnology
  • BIOT-T 315 Biotechnology Laboratory
  • BIOT-T 322 Biotechnology Writing and Communication
  • BIOT-T 425 Laboratory in Macromolecular Production, Purification, and Characterization
  • BIOT-T 440 Structure, Function, and Regulation of Biomolecules

The B.S. degree also requires 12 credit hours of Biotechnology Electives chosen from advanced courses in Anatomy, Biology, Biotechnology, and Chemistry.

All Biotechnology majors are encouraged to enroll in BIOT-X 498 Individual Independent Research.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Your major represents about one half of your degree requirements. With the help of your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest with additional majors, minors, or certificates.

Biotechnology majors are often interested in pursuing concurrent degrees in Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Neuroscience, or Microbiology.

You can also explore other disciplines, choosing course work and pursuing concurrent degrees in subjects as diverse as Spanish, Psychology, Business, East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Informatics.

Biotech majors may be particularly interested in the Liberal Arts and Management Program (LAMP) Certificate and the Business of Life Sciences Program.

Biotechnology majors may also pursue minors in the disciplines listed above, as well as many others within the College of Arts and Sciences.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a degree in Biotechnology, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

Independent research is an integral part of the Biotechnology Program. Biotech majors are encouraged to enroll in BIOT-X 498 Individual Independent Research or its equivalent.

BIOT-X 498 provides directed research opportunities for undergraduates in faculty research laboratories, giving you experience with state-of-the-art methodologies, instrumentation, and approaches in biotechnology. Biotech majors have participated in research in labs throughout the Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, and Neuroscience programs, as well as within the Biotechnology program. Within the Biotechnology program, labs are researching diseases, antibiotic resistance, and protein structure and function. BIOT-X 498 may be repeated for a maximum of 12 credit hours.

Biotechnology majors undertaking independent research projects have access to equipment in individual faculty laboratories, as well as to numerous department-affiliated core research facilities (X-ray protein crystallography, light microscopy, electron microscopy, biophysical instrumentation, genomic sequencing, cell sorting, Mass spectrophotometry, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, etc.) that constitute a large investment in life sciences infrastructure on the IU Bloomington campus.

Talk with the the Director of Undergraduate Studies, the Program Director, and the Biotechnology academic advisor about your research options.

Honors

The Biotechnology Honors program provides well-qualified students with an exceptionally strong foundation in biotechnology, both by encouraging excellence in course work and by recognizing the importance of early participation in research. Students intending to enroll in graduate school are strongly encouraged to pursue the honors option.

Since independent research is an integral part of the Biotechnology Program, students pursuing a degree with honors must enroll in at least two semesters of BIOT-X 498 Individual Independent Research or equivalent. The Undergraduate Advising Office should be consulted for other requirements, but in general, students completing courses with a minimum grade point average of 3.300, a senior thesis, the X498 credits, and, in some cases, a comprehensive examination or seminar, will be awarded a degree with honors.

Interested students should consult the Biotechnology Director of Undergraduate Studies for details.

High achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Students majoring in Biotechnology may be interested in pursuing one or more of the scholarships and awards offered by the College of Arts and Sciences. The requirements and conditions for these vary, so it is recommended that you work with the Biotechnology academic advisor before applying to these programs.

Options include:

Internships

Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Internships provide you with the opportunity to work as a paid employee in private industry, academia, or at a national lab, gaining valuable real-world experience.

The Biotechnology faculty encourages students to find these opportunities and obtain this type of experience. You can get a sense of the many choices available for internships by perusing the job titles of some of our Biotechnology graduates. The Biotechnology Program also has the Lawrence L. Blatt Internship Fund to help defray the costs of internships.

Talk with the Biotechnology Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Program Director about your internship options.

Foreign language study

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 82 languages. Learn more about the foreign language requirement for a College of Arts and Sciences degree.

The B.S. degree in Biotechnology requires third-semester proficiency in a foreign language. The B.A. degree in Biotechnology requires fourth-semester proficiency in a foreign language.

Students pursuing a pre-medical track are often interested in earning at least a minor in a foreign language. With careful planning, Biotechnology majors can pursue a double major or dual degree in a foreign language.

Here is a partial list of resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Studying abroad can be an important part of the undergraduate experience in an increasingly globalized world. Due to the sequential nature of the Biotechnology curriculum, with each course building on previous course work, leaving IU for a semester or more must be planned carefully in order to ensure that required courses are finished in a timely fashion.

Summer Overseas Study programs provide a viable alternative. Your planning should be coordinated with the Biotechnology academic advisor or the Director of Undergraduate Studies as early as possible.

To learn more about overseas study opportunities, contact the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

There is an active Biotech Club for Biotechnology majors and any interested undergraduate students. The Biotech Club meets several times per semester to hear presentations about current topics in science, to learn some 'hints' about applying to graduate school, and to discuss other career options. Watch for an opportunity to join Club members when they volunteer at WonderLab. You may subscribe to the Biotech Club listserv by sending an e-mail request to list@indiana.edu with the following line in the body of the message: subscribe biotech_club_list-l.

There are also many other students groups on the Bloomington campus that may be of interest to Biotechnology majors. Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. Sign up to receive weekly e-mail messages from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Biotech majors find it rewarding to volunteer for local organizations such as WonderLab, Boys and Girls Clubs of Bloomington, and Volunteers in Medicine.

Professional organizations

The following are just a few of the professional organizations for biotechnologists:

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

Majoring in Biotechnology provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Critical thinking and analysis: The field of Biotechnology requires critical thinking and analysis of information about a variety of areas in science in order to translate complex concepts and information into developing new questions and ideas, and turn them into products. This analysis requires knowledge from many areas that are all within biotechnology.
  • Problem solving: Biotechnology is more about applying information and concepts to solving problems than it is about memorization of large amounts of detail. Solving problems requires an understanding of the information, and creativity in applying that information in new settings and to new problems. Understanding which details are important and which aren't can be a key to problem solving. You also need practical skills to understand how quality data was generated, to apply new techniques, to understand the theory behind the techniques, and to troubleshoot problems when they appear.
  • Use of computers: Today, the most sophisticated analysis uses software such as Excel for data analysis as well as other software for examining the sequence and structure of molecules that are the basis for molecular function. The faculty also strongly emphasizes communication through electronic laboratory notebooks and various forms of computer-generated presentations.
  • Written and oral communication: In order to find a job, document your work, communicate your ideas to others, report your findings, propose new projects, and so on, you must be able to read the scientific literature, organize your thoughts, and write them down on paper. The Biotechnology curriculum includes an Intensive Writing course that teaches those skills and applies them to a variety of documents and oral presentations.

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Together with your other coursework, your degree provides many opportunities to develop the following abilities, as identified by the 11 Goals of the College of Arts and Sciences:

  • Achieve the genuine literacy required to read, listen, speak and write clearly and persuasively
  • Learn to think critically and creatively
  • Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
  • Discover ethical perspectives
  • Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
  • Practice and apply scientific methods
  • Learn to reason quantitatively
  • Develop historical consciousness
  • Investigate and study the international community
  • Develop and practice communication skills in public settings and in the study of at least one foreign language
  • Pursue in-depth knowledge of at least one subject

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:

  • Communicate effectively with persons both inside and outside the organization
  • Work in a team structure
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Obtain and process relevant information
  • Analyze quantitative data
  • Create and/or edit written reports
  • Obtain technical knowledge related to the job
  • Proficiency with computer software programs
  • Ability to persuade or influence others

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic and career advisors about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career advisor can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with the Walter Center for Career Achievement career advisor.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Use the IU Career Guides to determine if the path you are considering aligns with your short- and long-term goals. These offer information about each field's educational preparation, employment opportunities, insider tips, industry-related interview questions, and more.

You might want to take a career course to help you maximize your time at IU. College of Arts and Sciences students should consider taking ASCS-Q 299, College to Career III: Market Yourself for the Job and Internship Search. In the course, students learn how to craft a targeted resume, use their cover letter as a tool, prepare for successful interviews, locate and build a professional network, and prepare for a smooth transition from college to postgraduate life.

The job market

Approximately 50 percent of recent graduates of the Biotechnology Program obtained jobs in the biotechnology industry upon graduation, with the remaining 50 percent going on to obtain advanced degrees from professional schools such as medical, dental, or optometry schools, or going on to various graduate schools to obtain M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in the life sciences. The exceptional opportunities of this modern degree program thus provide maximum flexibility and opportunities to students who have not yet decided what career track they want to pursue.

Employment opportunities in the biotechnology industry, both nationally and in Indiana, have been rapidly increasing over the past decade. From 2001 to 2010, bioscience industry employment grew 6.4 percent in the U.S. The average annual wages of bioscience industry workers have increased 13 percent compared with a 4 percent increase in wages for workers in the private sector.

Furthermore, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in bioscience will increase 31 percent from 2010 to 2020 as compared to the 14 percent increase projected for all occupations. Growth in the bioscience industry during 2001 to 2010 was widely distributed throughout the nation with 34 states showing growth, and Indiana being one of the states with the largest increase.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Talk with the Biotechnology faculty, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, the Program Director, and the career advisor, as well as recent graduates of the Biotechnology Program, to gain insights into the career paths available to you with this major.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

The beginning of your post-graduate career might be an ideal time to explore an international internship or other short-term experience through organizations such as these:

Using these and other resources, your career advisor can help you craft a unique post-graduate short-term experience, whether in the United States or abroad.

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.

Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities in the physical sciences include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from those who are familiar with your work. Independent research is an excellent way not only to get in-depth training, but also to assess your level of passion for training in a particular field. Make a practice of getting to know your professors and mentors by discussing your options for advanced study in the field. Take advantage of office hours and professional organizations.

Students who pursue graduate studies in the life sciences have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions.

  • A Biotechnology B.S. degree will prepare you for entry into professional schools such as medical, dental, or optometry schools, or going on to various graduate schools to obtain M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in the life sciences.
  • A Biotechnology B.A. degree will allow you to obtain knowledge and skills that will be useful in the marketing, sales, and finance areas of biotechnology or, with careful planning and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could prepare to enter law school or medical school.

Alumni connections

The IU College of Arts and Sciences organizes Alumni and Friends events. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join and use the IU Alumni Association to remain in touch, network directly, follow careers, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

Students who choose to major in Biotechnology typically have a passion for science, especially biology and chemistry, and a strong interest in how science and society intersect, with an emphasis on new technologies, skills, and innovations. Most biotechnology majors are interested in topics such as:

  • Small molecules as medicines
  • Biologics such as monoclonal antibodies
  • Agribusiness including genetically modified crops
  • Regulation of pharmaceutical science and patents
  • How cells function and the improvement of human lives
  • Drug development
  • Animal health
  • Laboratory instrumentation and diagnostics

Learn more

Contact the Biotechnology academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
btech@indiana.edu