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How do I Earn a Biochemistry Masters?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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A biochemistry masters degree refers to graduate level studies in the field of biochemistry. This is a good degree for those who would like to work in this area but who don’t plan or who aren’t yet ready to complete doctorate level work. Those with an MS in biochemistry may be able to return to school at a later point to get a PhD, but many are also able to get work by having earned a biochemistry masters.

Work in this field often begins for people at the high school level, who take lots of science classes to learn the basics. Students are best served if they can take these classes at the Advanced Placement level because passing a test at the end of the year may confer college credits. This may mean students are able in college to take courses that are more advanced, and it could shorten time spent getting a bachelor’s degree. Students who don’t follow this path can still be well prepared for a biochemistry masters by doing well in preliminary science courses at the college level. The Advanced Placement approach may simply save time, but isn’t open or available to all high school students.

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Students will need to earn a bachelors degree before they can begin work on a biochemistry masters. They should have excellent grades in their major, and it doesn’t hurt to have very good to excellent grades overall, especially in the last two years of study. Obviously, choice of major can be important, and most students may choose to major in biochemistry at the undergraduate level. It may be possible to major in something else, like pre-med, but students should check with individual schools where they might apply to the masters program to see what requirements are for each school.

One requirement some masters programs may have is passage of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general or certain subject tests. Students might in particular need to take and score well on the GRE in biochemistry. Another requirement for admission or consideration of admission to many programs is letters of recommendation. These should be obtained from professors or possibly from people administering any science related internships a student might have completed.

There are two potential ways for people to complete a biochemistry masters. They may apply to a masters program only, or they may apply to a PhD program and exit it after earning a masters degree. The second path is sometimes frowned upon in academia, and leaving and taking only the masters may not be what the university wishes. If the master degree is the clear goal, students may want to stick with applying to master programs only.

The advantages of this degree is that it may offer more job opportunities, but it is not a terminal degree, which means it doesn’t offer the most job opportunities. Many students find a PhD more attractive because it is easier to get funding for school than it is at the master level. It also may confer more respect. Undoubtedly though, a biochemistry masters takes less time and can have students ready to work in about 2-3 years.

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