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Department of Natural Sciences

Biotechnology - Overview


Biotechnology is a broad umbrella of biological research and development that draws upon the traditional fields of biochemistry, cell biology, molecular genetics, and microbiology to develop biological products and tools for human medicine, agriculture, and environmental management. The field emerged from the DNA cloning revolution of the 1970's but has now expanded to include a variety of applications from chemistry, computer sciences, mathematics, and physics. Since biotechnology concerns the application of science to human welfare and economic development, many business and law school programs have incorporated issues related to biotechnology into their curriculum. Currently, broad-based education encompassing all of these fields have been largely developed for masters-level programs; however, a small number of baccalaureate programs have emerged around the country, the B.S. in Biotechnology at UHD is the first in Texas and is still one of only three baccalaureate programs available in Texas. Numerous Texas community colleges offer associates degrees in biotechnology that is suitable for entry-level jobs in a variety of technical areas (see below). However, there is an urgent need in Texas for graduates with baccalaureate degrees to fill numerous jobs that require a rigorous liberal arts education. The Governor of Texas has called upon a task force (Governor's Council on Science & Biotechnology) to address this issue.

Biotechnology at UHD

UHD offers several degree programs in the life sciences suitable for students interested in pursuing a career in biotechnology, including a Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology, which is a highly-interdisciplinary degree program that calls upon students to complete at least one semester of independent research. UHD also has a nationally-recognized academic program for ambitious science students, the UHD Scholars Academy, that provides training and education for students seeking challenging, satisfying careers in science, including biotechnology. Students in the Biotechnology Program at Montgomery College can participate in the 2+2 articulation program between UHD and Montgomery College. Students in the Biotechnology Program will complete at least one semester of independent research (fast becoming essential for entry into graduate school and higher paying entry-level jobs in the industry), which can involve research at the Texas medical Center, University of Houston, or Rice University.

Pre-requisites for beginning the UHD B.S. in Biotechnology as transfer students: Students coming into the degree plan should first complete General Biology I/II and General Chemistry I/II since these courses are pre-requisites and essential all other sophomore and upper-division courses. The student should then take General Microbiology and junior-level General Genetics as these are pre-requisites for most of the upper-division courses in the biotechnology degree plan. Students should also work with an advisor (from among the biotechnology faculty) and monitor their curriculum using the five-year itinerary of courses available at the NS Department site.

Masters and Doctoral Programs

Masters and Doctoral degrees in biotechnology are increasing around the country. Any doctoral degree in molecular life sciences will prepare you for research & development positions of responsibility. The Houston area has several outstanding institutions that can provide doctoral training: University of Houston, Rice University, University of Texas Health Science Center, and Baylor College of Medicine.

Masters programs are fewer; however, they often provide a broader training outside of basic sciences that can be useful to individuals interested in careers outside of research in biotechnology-related sciences. Below are well-known Texas programs:
  • S.F. Austin State University UT-Tyler Health Science Center
  • Texas A&M University UT-San Antonio
  • University of North Texas Health Science Center UT-Dallas
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

A more comprehensive list of grad programs across the state and the nation can be found at


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Last updated or reviewed on 11/9/10

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