Biological Sciences

Post-Graduate Programs

The following is a summary of post-graduate training available in the Department of Biological Sciences. For more detailed information, please consult the Graduate Catalog or request specific information from the Department Office.

Graduate Certificate in Biotechnology and Bioprocessing

This certificate, offered jointly by the Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemical Engineering, will be of special interest for those seeking employment in the biotechnology industry. These multidisciplinary courses in fermentation, cell cultivation and protein purification bridge the gap between research and manufacturing, and add breadth to the students’ background, preparing them for leadership roles in biopharmaceutical project teams. Three of the four courses required for certification are offered by the Massachusetts Bioprocess Development Center. The fourth may be any of several approved biotechnology electives available within both departments. With careful planning, a student receiving the Bachelor’s degree in Biology or Chemical Engineering may complete requirements for the Graduate Certificate on a full or part time basis during the summer and fall semesters following graduation. Note that credits earned for the certificate can be applied toward the total credits (30) needed to satisfy requirements for the MS degree in Biological Sciences.

Graduate Certificate Molecular and Cellular Biotechnology

The Graduate Certificate in Molecular and Cellular Biotechnology draws entirely on existing strengths at University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Department of Biological Sciences to provide students with training in this growing field.  Over the years we have witnessed an ever-increasing demand for manipulation of DNA and analysis in cultured cells in most aspects of funded research; this need is reflected in the job market. The Biological Sciences Department has all the necessary resources for this Graduate Certificate, which will place our existing students in the forefront of the job market, and also attract additional graduate students. Note that credits earned for the certificate can be applied toward the total credits (30) needed to satisfy requirements for the M.S. degree in Biological Sciences.

Graduate Certificate in Environmental Biotechnology

Environmental biotechnology refers to the application of biological technologies to monitor, understand, and remediate environmental problems.  Recent advances in biotechnology are providing new avenues for investigating biologically-mediated environmental processes, many of which were inaccessible using traditional approaches.  As environmental resources are increasingly strained and new biological technologies with the potential to improve our environment become available, the demand for professionals with training in environmental biotechnology will continue to increase.  The certificate in Environmental Biotechnology addresses this demand by combining courses that explore the ecological impact of anthropogenic environmental change with courses that provide training in current biological technologies that can be brought to bear on environmental problems.  The proposed Certificate consists of two core courses that focus on environmental problems and processes and two electives that focus on technologies to monitor and/or remediate the environment. Note that credits earned for the certificate can be applied toward the total credits (30) needed to satisfy requirements for the M.S. degree in Biological Sciences.

Five Year BS/MS Program

An accelerated five-year course of study leading to the BS and MS degrees in Biological Sciences is available to full-time students who have a grade-point average of 3.0 or above at the end of their junior year. Interested students, after evaluation and acceptance by the Department’s graduate selection committee, meet with the graduate coordinator to design a plan for completion of requirements for both degrees within a five-year time frame. Up to 6 credits of graduate courses (500 level or higher) may be used by a student in the BS/MS program for both graduate and undergraduate degrees. Graduate Record Exam scores are not required.

The objective of these programs is to foster critical thinking and to develop skills needed for independent laboratory study. This is accomplished, in part, by offering advanced lecture, seminar and laboratory courses. While it is possible to complete MS requirements without thesis or project option it is this latter activity that most distinguishes graduate from undergraduate students. All full-time M.S. degree students are, therefore, strongly urged to elect thesis or project options. The Department of Biological Sciences also collaborates with the Department of Chemistry in offering the Ph.D. Option in Biochemistry. Laboratory thesis research is a required component of this program.

Research in the Department of Biological Sciences

Eligible undergraduate and graduate students interested in research are encouraged to meet with research faculty as early in their program as possible in order to identify topic areas of interest. The principal areas of research in this department are in molecular and cell biology, biotechnology, biochemistry and environmental biology. In addition to research programs within the Department, there are interesting projects on-going in the Massachusetts Bioprocess Development Center. Since there is a limit to the number of students who can be accommodated by any professor, it is a good idea to select a number of projects so that, if one laboratory is filled, there are alternatives. There is no guarantee that all students seeking laboratory research experience will be accommodated.