M.A. Biotechnology Question

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I've done this.....

Postby April » Wed Feb 23, 2005 4:34 pm

Your information leaves me at a loss. I began a MS program in Biotech with emphasis on Bioinformatics. I did the research and found many opportunities in this field. From what I've read from you and several others, this degree isn't going to mean much when I complete it. Now I'm wondering what to do? I have a BS in biology. It's hard to find a master's program that will cater to my work schedule. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I've done this.....

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Feb 23, 2005 4:44 pm


If you've done your homework, than continue your education. Posts on this forum are purely opinion and the experiences of others, many of whom have a different background than you will end up with. While it is true that "MS in Biotechnology" degrees are often extremely difficult to use in "marketing" yourself to employers, you may be better at this than others. Perhaps in your research you uncovered people who will be ready and willing to talk to you when you graduate. In short, trust your instincts.

It may be wise for you to read some of the most recent material about bioinformatics careers, in order to see that it is much more difficult than many people thought to secure a career in that niche.

Here's a clipping from the analysis of the Sloan Report on Bioinformatics Careers:

"Our analysis leads us to conclude that the bioinformatics labor market has gone through considerable change in recent years. In the context of a relatively fixed supply of specialists, salaries for individuals with skills in bioinformatics soared in the 1990s. Strong demand and the concern that the ?seed corn was being eaten? led to the creation of numerous new training programs in bioinformatics. These training programs are now beginning to generate graduates. Many of these graduates assumed they would go to work in industry, yet positions in industry appear to be on the decline, and many of the positions that are available are for individuals with considerable experience. The strongest area of demand in recent years has been from academe, seeking faculty to staff new programs and to broaden research expertise. Unless conditions in industry change dramatically in the next few years, it is likely that many trainees from these programs will have difficulty finding jobs in industry. "

You can find the full report on this link: Sloan Report from CSUPERB

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I've done this.....

Postby tom » Wed Feb 23, 2005 7:43 pm

Hey Jen,

Thanks for the post, but could you elaborate more on your personal work history? Did you go straight into the M.S. program or have prior work experience?

Also, when I mentioned going into clinical research, I was planning to get an entry level position within my own company to gain experience and if necessary get a BSN, then go clinical in private industry (or even stay where I am and rise up). I'm not depending on my MS degree alone to get me anywhere. It is only for training and motivation to get back into learning. Therefore, I agree with Dave that an MS in biotech is ambigious, and won't sell itself.

I've done this.....

Postby Jen » Fri Feb 25, 2005 10:35 am

Tom -I work in a R&D lab for a pharma company. I worked for about 6 months before I began the program and continued working throughout my studies. I believe my current problem is my lack of experience outside my specific area. I was counting on the MS to help me get out of my current position, but it didn't work out that way. I am trying to get out of the lab and I just don't have any other experience. Good luck with the clincal job...unfortunately my company isn't interested in entry-level clinical research professionals.

April - I didn't mean to sound so negative. Bioinformatics is a whole different ball game I don't have any experience with. Perhaps look into an internship through your school and a local company over the summer. I think that is the best way to get your foot in the door.
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getting your foot into clinical?

Postby Tom » Fri Feb 25, 2005 8:13 pm


Well, you could take my advice w/ a grain of salt, since I haven't starting going the clinical path yet. But, if you are willing to take a pay cut why not find a CRA (clinical research associate) entry level position at a medical research institute or university near your area? Then you can gain the experience and perhaps another degree (e.g. ASN or BSN)and then find a clinical job at a pharma? Perhaps someone who is more familiar with this topic on this board can give you more advice.

Lastly, I'm curious if you don't mind telling me at which university did you get your MS? Did it have a independent research and thesis project? And if so where did you do it? At the university or a collaboration with your company? Well, good luck with everything and hope you figure things out.


getting your foot into clinical?

Postby David » Fri Feb 25, 2005 10:01 pm

My friend got a degree that has clinical work , not a single interview for 4 months!! Experience is a must , not the degree.

getting your foot into clinical?

Postby Jen » Tue Mar 01, 2005 1:09 pm

Thanks for the advice Tom. I have had interviews with CRAs, but unfortunately the pay is along the line of what I made as a intern in college. It is not just a minimal pay cut. I did my Master's program at Penn, there are three different tracks. The one I did did not require a project or a thesis. However, colleagues of mine are doing their projects through the company, not the school. Good luck.
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