The master of science in molecular biology and biotechnology is a 30-semester-hour thesis program, which includes research in developmental biology, genetics, and cell physiology. The program is known for its rigorous, well-rounded training in biology. Faculty in the program continue to innovate their teaching methods and refine the curriculum to provide the best training for their students.

The thesis-based MS degree provides training and experience in communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and integrating information derived from multiple sources. These are highly marketable skills in their own right, and they equip you with a tool set necessary for accomplishment and success in virtually any professional endeavor.

Approximately $10,000 in assistantship support covering the fall and spring semesters is competitively available to students entering the program. An additional $2,500 is available during the summer through a combination of teaching and research assistantships and departmental resources. In addition, a limited number of Graduate Scholar Awards of $4,000 per year, awarded through the Graduate School, have been available in the past for the strongest applicants.

ECU Advantage

This is the only program of its type in North Carolina, and we believe our educational program is second to none in terms of fully preparing you for one of the many career opportunities available in biotechnology today. Our record of achievement is highlighted by the many graduates of our program who are pursuing active and rewarding careers in all facets of the biotechnology industry including management, research, development and sales.

A degree in this program can provide you with an opportunity to address some of our society's most urgent needs. The ready availability of an increasing number of recombinant human blood proteins is having a profound effect on critical health care issues, and developments in plant biotechnology are addressing important agricultural needs of our nation and the world. Future developments in biotechnology, including stem cell technology, biosensors, recombinant vaccines and biofuels promise to extend these advancements into areas of tissue regeneration, national security, energy resources and sustainable agriculture.

What You Will Study

Program Coordinator: Xiaoping Pan (N-108E Howell Science Complex; 252-328-5443; panx@ecu.edu)

Applicants must complete courses or demonstrate competency in genetics, microbiology, and basic molecular technology. The degree requires 30 s.h. of credit as follows.

1. Required courses - 12 s.h.:
  • BIOL 5870 - Molecular Biology of the Gene or
  • BIOL 7870 - Molecular Genetics

  • BIOL 6240 - Principles of Biochemistry I or
  • BIOL 6242 - Principles of Biochemistry II

  • BIOL 6244 - Principles of Biochemistry Laboratory
  • BIOL 6880 - Introduction to Research
  • BIOL 7000 - Thesis *
2. A minimum of 14 s.h. must be taken from the following:

(including two of the ** courses)

  • BIOL 5260 - Microbial Ecology
  • BIOL 5261 - Microbial Ecology Laboratory
  • BIOL 5510 - Transmission Electron Microscopy
  • BIOL 5511 - Transmission Electron Microscopy Laboratory
  • BIOL 5520 - Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-Ray Analysis
  • BIOL 5521 - Scanning Electron Microscopy and X-Ray Analysis Laboratory
  • BIOL 5890 - Virology
  • BIOL 5900 - Biotechniques **
  • BIOL 5901 - Biotechniques Laboratory **
  • BIOL 5930 - Microcomputer Applications in Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 5931 - Microcomputer Applications in Molecular Biology Laboratory
  • BIOL 6030 - Topics in Cell Biology
  • BIOL 6082 - Fundamentals of Vertebrate Endocrinology
  • BIOL 6083 - Fundamentals of Vertebrate Endocrinology Laboratory
  • BIOL 6100 - Advances in Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 6120 - Advances in Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 6200 - Mechanisms of Genetic Recombination
  • BIOL 6230 - Advanced Techniques in Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 6231 - Advanced Techniques in Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 6250 - Protein Purification Techniques **
  • BIOL 6251 - Protein Purification Techniques Laboratory **
  • BIOL 6504 - Research Problems in Biology
  • BIOL 6514 - Research Problems in Biology
  • BIOL 6992 - Internship in Applied Biology
  • BIOL 6993 - Internship in Applied Biology
  • BIOL 7080 - Molecular Endocrinology
  • BIOL 7180 - Cell Culture and Hybridoma Technology **
  • BIOL 7181 - Cell Culture and Hybridoma Technology Laboratory **
  • BIOL 7190 - Immunology II
  • BIOL 7210 - Transgenic Methodology and Application
  • BIOL 7211 - Transgenic Methodology and Application Laboratory
  • BIOL 7212 - Gene Targeting and Knockout Animals
  • BIOL 7213 - Gene Targeting and Knockout Animals Laboratory
  • BIOL 7480 - Cell Biology **
  • BIOL 7481 - Cell Biology Laboratory **
  • BIOL 7875 - Plant Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 7880 - Bioinformatics
  • BIOL 7781 - Bioinformatics
  • BIOL 7890 - Current Literature in Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 7895 - Current Literature in Cell Biology
3. Electives:

A maximum of 4 s.h. may be designated at the candidate’s option as elective hours with the approval of the graduate director and the candidate’s advisor, to complete graduation requirements of 30 s.h. for this degree.


    *BIOL 7000 may be repeated for registration status, but only 6 s.h. may count toward graduation.

      Internship Option:

      Qualified students will be encouraged to spend from six months to one year in an internship at an industrial or governmental research laboratory. From 2-5 s.h. of internship credit can be applied toward the degree.

        For more information about this degree visit the university's academic catalogs.

        Careers With This Degree

        Graduates with this degree are successful in many fields and careers, including the following:

        • Molecular Biology
        • Education and Training
        • Natural Sciences Managers
        • Biological Scientists
        • Medical Scientists
        • Biological Science Teacher, Postsecondary
        • Molecular Biology

        Career Opportunities

        ECU has developed resources to help you learn more about career opportunities and job market outlook. In addition, the websites below provide specific information on careers in the various majors from which students may choose:

        NC Tower

        This website provides graphs and tables of in-depth information on employment rates, wages and ongoing higher education enrollment of graduates from the North Carolina Community College System and from the University of North Carolina system schools. NC Tower includes data on former UNC students who are working in roughly 90% of all jobs in North Carolina. This database excludes information for graduates who are:

        • Self-employed;
        • Work for the federal government, including the military: or
        • Work outside of North Carolina.

        US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

        This website also provides in-depth information regarding pay, projected new jobs, required education, growth rate and on-the-job training information on various occupations.

        Degree-specific internships

        For information on internship information for specific majors, go to the home page of the department in which the major is located and, as available, find the link to the information on internships in that major.