Jobs after MS Medical Biotechnology in USA for International Students

Biotechnology is a broad field where you can combine your interest in science with so many other areas. Biotechnology has got several applications. Unarguably, the best-known area of modern biotechnology is its use in medical research and the development of pharmaceuticals and medical therapies. You can read about careers in biotechnology outside medicine and pharmaceuticals. In this post, we will talk about the job scope after MS Medical Biotechnology, especially for international students.

Main Branches of Biotechnology

There are several branches of biotechnology, including medical, animal, industrial and environmental.

  • Medical biotechnology concentrates on using techniques to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases. That includes genetic testing and the creation of vaccines and devices.
  • Animal biotechnology focuses on animal health and conservation, genetics, and breeding. It’s used to improve livestock production and prevent the spread of diseases.
  • Industrial biotechnology aims to create products that will lead to more environmentally friendly and cost-effective products used in industry, such as fuels, textiles, and paper.
  • Environmental biotechnology includes the monitoring and treatment of environmental concerns. Applications include renewable energy and pollution removal.
  • Plant biotechnology is the use of techniques to make adaptations to plants. That may include protecting plants from disease and pests and increasing crop production.

US Job Outlook for Various Functions within the Biotechnology (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

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MS Medical Biotechnology at UIC – Admissions and Placements: Q&A with Dr. Khalifah Siddik

Jobs after MS in Biotechnology

We had previously published an interview with Dr. Khalifah SidikDirector of the MS Medical Biotechnology (MBT) program at the University of Illinois (College of Medicine, Rockford Campus). We reached out to her again to gain more insights about admission and the post-MS job market post-pandemic.

Q. How has the interest among international students for the MBT program at UIC been in the last two years (2021 and 2022)?

Dr. Sidik: We have seen about the same number of applications in the last 4 years.  The pandemic did reduce enrollment substantially in 2020, but enrollment did go back up in 2021 and 2022. 

Q. Could you please share some placement statistics for the international students who graduated in the last 3 years (2020 – 2022)?

Dr. Sidik: Yes, of course. We are pleased to share that all of our international graduates have secured positions in the last 3 years, the same as in previous years.  The demand for Biotech graduates is very high at the moment with the increasing number of new biotech start-ups.

Jobs after MS Biotechnology in USA
Jobs after MS Medical Biotechnology at UIC

Q. Of late, we are seeing an increasing trend toward job-oriented programs in Biotechnology. How does the MBT program stack against some of the hard-core research-oriented MS programs and PSM programs?

Dr. Sidik: 80% of graduates between 2020-2022 secure Research Associate/Senior Research  Associate positions at biopharmaceutical companies in Boston and the San Francisco Bay area.

2022 graduates secured positions at Alkahest Therapeutics, ImmuneBridge, BioNTech, Kymera Therapeutics, Nvelop Therapeutics, Tessera Therapeutics, and Dicerna Therapeutics.

Our goal is to train scientists to meet the demands of Biopharma companies on the east coast as well as the west coast.  In the last 7 years, we have achieved our goals to place our international graduates in various biopharma and biotech start-ups all over the country.

Q. What are the potential non-laboratory-based job options for MBT graduates, especially international students?

Dr. Sidik: It will be easier for domestic students to secure non-lab-based positions. Almost all of our international graduates have secured lab-based positions. Several have secured positions in QC in contract manufacturing companies.

Q. For Fall 2021 and 2022, GRE was a requirement for the MBT program. Why did you (or the Dept.) decide to drop off the GRE requirement permanently?

Dr. Sidik: For the past two years we have been waiving the GRE requirement for most of the applicants with good grades, and we do not see any difference in their performance compared to the previous years. That gave us the confidence to waive the GRE requirement permanently.

Related Article: List of Universities that Do Not Require GRE for Fall 2023

Q. Given that the GRE is out of the equation, how can someone with average (or below-average) grades improve their admission chances?

Dr. Sidik: Someone with below-average grades should still submit GRE scores to improve their admission chances.  GRE scores will give us another avenue to evaluate the candidate. We will contact the applicant if we feel that GRE scores will benefit them.

Read Best MS Biotechnology Programs in the USA without GRE.

Q. How critical are the SoP and Letters of Recommendation? How does the Dept. evaluate these components?

Dr. Sidik: We do go through the SoP to learn more about the students and see if they are truly passionate about biotech. Careless mistakes with their SoP may indicate poor attention to detail which is a problem in science. As for LORs, we consider them more on a case-by-case basis. We are aware that most professors tend to have a standard letter that they use. 

Q. Any advice for international students on how they can improve their employment chances in the US after the MBT program?

Dr. Sidik: Our students are advised to: 

a) Gain skill sets that are relevant for the positions that they intend to apply for upon graduation. We provide many opportunities for our students to hone their skills during their free time. 

b) Have good communication skills. We provide many opportunities for our students to improve their communication skills. We provide workshops on networking, resume writing, and how to do well during interviews. We have strong support from our alumni and they are always there to guide our students when it’s time for them to start their job search.

Q. Any tips for the students who wish to go for Ph.D. directly after the MS?

Dr. Sidik: Any student planning to go on to a Ph.D. program should strive to complete a very strong research project with publishable data. Experience as a teaching assistant and receiving good feedback from the students he or she taught will also be beneficial. 

Q. AI and Big Data are making a huge impact in every field including the healthcare and biomedical fields. An MS program cannot make someone a master in multiple things. However, do you think universities will make changes in the curriculum in the coming decade? Or do you think Biotech students should start picking up coding/programming skills for better job opportunities in the research field?

Dr. Sidik: I think that a few universities with available resources in AI will include some introductory AI into their curriculum. Most Biotech students from India have some coding/programming knowledge which will come in handy should the employer they interview with be looking for a biotech graduate with programming and coding knowledge.

One of our graduates from India is using his knowledge in programming in his current position at Editas Medicine.  His knowledge of programming did open more doors for him.

Feedback from a Current Student and Recent Graduate

Student Feedback - MS Medical Biotechnology in USA

It’s been a pleasure to be at UIC. Right from the initial conversation before my on-boarding into university, the preparation work for confident flight on boarding, pick up at the airport, and the care showered on me immediately after stepping into the US until this point in time, makes me feel UIC MBT be a second home.

The entire process of admissions was made hassle-free for us with all the informative zoom sessions that we had helped us get acclimatized here very easily. UIC MBT is an ideal blend of application-driven practical training in labs and concept-driven classroom instruction, preparing students for all types of professions in research.

I can confidently state that this program is worthwhile if you have the scientific aspirations and drive to advance your career. Happy to be part of the UIC family.

Kheerthivasan Ramachandran (Current Student)
Jobs after MS Medical Biotechnology in USA

The curriculum at MBT is meticulously designed to prepare students for careers in academia and industry.

I’ve been very fortunate in the learning opportunities that I’ve gotten in the time I spent in the MBT program – the opportunities that helped me thrive in the biotech industry but at the same time stay motivated to pursue a Ph.D. in the next phase of my career.

Being an international student, I had my fears and paranoia about moving to a new place and simultaneously dealing with an intense program. But MBT takes care of you well enough so you can focus on the more important things.

I will be forever grateful for the technical and life skills I’ve learned while at MBT.

Nalini Bisht (Alumni)

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