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MS in Biotechnology at Johns Hopkins University

Tall Chai Latte

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I'm not sure where should this post belong to, so I apologize if this is in the wrong sub forum.

Recently I've begun researching into potential alternative career choices, as to brainstorming ways to transition myself out of academia at some point (I'm about 2 months into my third year at a top-20 PhD program, already done with courses and advanced to candidacy), and I came across this masters program from Hopkins on Biotechnology. The program also offers concentration in Biodefense, Bioinformatics, Regulatory affairs and a few others. What appeals to me about this program is the freedom to finish the degree entirely online, and the name of the school. The downside of it is the entire program costs ~33K, and I can't seem to find the job placement outcome associated with this degree.

Has anyone heard of this program or is currently enrolled in it? I heard that virtually all applicants are accepted, on top of being able to take it from anywhere in the country. It's a little too good to be true...

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1) gee, maybe I should change my screename :huh:

2) You plan on finishing your current program and then doing this? Here are my 2 cents. A program with an exceptionally high acceptance rate, no job placement listed and 33k debt is a cash cow. Period. I don't care what brand name is attached to the program. One of my alma mater's does this. Maybe I'm a cynic, but the way I see it, they lure ppl to these specialty masters programs (w/ the brand name) that don't really deliver at the end of the day. Honestly, I'd avoid these programs like the plague. Also, I'm not a fan of doing anything science-based online. That may fly w/ business or law, but not this IMO. Perhaps others will disagree, but w/ your pending, bio-related PhD, I'd get an MS in Stat or computational bio through an established math dept. if bioinformatics was my interest. As for regulatory affairs, would you really need an MS for that? Couldn't you just apply for some gov't jobs at the NRC, for instance?

ETA: given that Hopkins doesn't have (m)any online sci/math programs, it probably tells you that this degree will be very quantitatively light

Edited by Chai_latte
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yesssss, I am addicted to chai lol. I'll tell you what an established engineer told me when I entered college: try to stick with standard degrees (you can get interdisciplinary/trendy with outside projects or independent studies etc). You want your academic background (on paper) to look as traditional as possible b/c that never goes out of style (and is rarely a waste of money/time).

P.S. Biotech ain't what it used to be.

Edited by Chai_latte
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  • 5 months later...

Tall Chai Latte,  I am completing the Hopkins biotech program and would offer a couple points to consider.  First, don't make a major life decision based on the opinions of an anonymous person posting to an internet chat room.  That being said, here is my two cents about the program:


1.  The program is for working students, not professional students.  If you want the experience of spending two years on campus somewhere right after leaving undergrad for twice the amount of money, that's fine. Yes, the biotech program is expensive, but only half the cost of a two year full-time program, not including the opportunity cost of leaving a full-time job.  My first MS was a traditional full-time on campus program and was not worth the time or money.


2.  Because it is a part-time program, the goal isn't to help students find their first job out of college.  It's to help students advance in their current position, or even transition to a new industry.  The only schools with established job numbers are MBA programs, law schools and med schools.  Can you trust the numbers for anything other than the top ten schools, even in those programs?  No, and even those schools pad the numbers.  One of the cons of the biotech program is that it doesn't offer many tools for networking with fellow students.  


3.  The content at Hopkins is solid.  I looked at the biotech programs at many other schools, including the one where I earned my first MS, and it was the only one that offered in depth courses in life science.  Many of the others were too heavy on management courses, or didn't offer wetlab/dry labs.


4.  Like everything in life, you get back what you put into the degree.  I wrote, in three courses alone, research papers that all were more comprehensive than my senior thesis in undergrad.  This is without taking the thesis option as part of the biotech program.  I have probably read 200 journal articles in the program in addition to all the textbooks, and feel confident speaking about the up-to-date specifics of biotech across medicine, energy and agriculture.  This program blends the science, with journals (case studies in b-school), and applications in a way that very few programs can match.  Adding physical wetlab courses (like Recombinant DNA lab) and dry labs (protein bioinformatics) to my coursework added the hands on tools to apply the knowledge.


5.  The professors are all top rate, with many working in industry.  As only one example, the molecular bio professor for my class runs the U.S. Army's biodefense lab, and was as hard as any undergrad prof I ever had.  


6.  The name carries weight and the students in my classes were brilliant.  This included venture capitalists, IP attorneys, entrepreneurs and bench scientists at the biggest biotechs in the world.  


7.  The program is quantitative where it needs to be.  The biochem requirement covers all the quantitative aspects Michaelis Menten Kinetics and you will have assignments on the hard math.  The nanobiotech course I took also incorporated the quant side, as did the Recombinant DNA wetlab.


8.  The last post is correct, biotech isn't what it used to be.  Indeed, the opportunity is dramatically better than what it ever has been, and the Hopkins program makes it obvious that the most exciting work in the industry is only now in progress or has yet to come.  


9.  The world does care anymore about standard cookie cutter degrees.  Most major research universities have shifted to a multidisciplinary curriculum, so the idea that one should be a chem major and that's it doesn't reflect reality.  If you're the type of person that likes to invest all your money in one stock and go for broke, then fine.  But if you think diversification is the best way to protect yourself in a down job market, then programs like biotech are for you.

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I never did the MS Biotechnology program, but did attend Johns Hopkins in a bio-related field.  Obviously I can't comment on the program, but here are my 2 cents on Hopkins as an institution for biotech careers:


In general, Hopkins tends to be a bit "ivory tower" traditional academia, and not as industry focused as some other schools.  It is not like Stanford or MIT where every professor seems to either have their own startup or have some collaboration with a large biotech company, and many students get hired by their professors' company after they graduate.  Compared to other schools, the majority of my classmates didn't really do summer internships in industry, as most did summer research.  The Hopkins Career Center also generally wasn't the best in my opinion - premed or pre-graduate advising was much better haha.    


That being said, the Hopkins name can indeed help you out in industry.  I have friends working at the likes of Genentech, etc.  Also, I know Hopkins is trying to move in the direction of more industry involvement, less traditional academia, etc. - the previous poster mentioned interactions with venture capitalists and entrepreneurs in the program, so it seems there is at least some evidence of this happening.  With Hopkins' strength in biology and medicine, I have no doubt that the content itself is solid, even if industry connections may not have historically been Hopkins' strong point. 


You said you're currently in a PhD program?  I work in industry now and there are several PhDs - they come in at a higher position than people with just a BS or MS, and most of them didn't have previous industry experience.  However good or bad the MS in Biotechnology program is at Johns Hopkins, I don't think you'd need it to transition out of academia - many PhD grads do it.

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  • 4 years later...

I started the program this year and so far I have been unimpressed with the quality of the lectures and some of the assigned readings.  The lectures range from somewhat thorough to a link to an animation or somebody's take on the particular subject.  Considering how much each class costs (around $4500 after  additional fees) I was expecting the quality of the content and lectures to surpass classes I've taken on EDX or Cursera.

Enrollment is easy, no GRE required and they get back to you within a week, which tells me they barely look at your letter of intent or your grades. Expect anywhere from 10-20 students per class from different academic backgrounds and experience. Also expect to hash out the material through discussion groups where the experience and level of knowledge of your piers might bring the discussion level up or down. 

For a working professional who wants to gain deeper knowledge in the field, I wouldn't recommend it.  If you are an undergrad with little experience who needs the degree to be accepted to med or dental school, this might be your ticket.  Expect an enormous amount of work (a lot of it unnecessary) and a big debt, since the program costs since to be increasing every year.

In my opinion and in the opinion of other piers I've spoken to it feels like scam.

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  • 5 months later...

I'm in my third semester of the Regulatory Affairs program.  I dropped one of two classes this semester because the instructor - who teaches this class every semester - couldn't be arsed to give us a weekly syllabus of assignments.  Her computer crashed, then she was sick.  Weekly discussions, which are supposed to be about 200 words, were posted on Monday and had to be added by Wednesday evening.  The last two weeks I was enrolled the 200 word discussion was a 2 page paper and a bizarre question that made no sense  in regard to how drugs progress to clinical trials.  We students all have full time jobs, so trying to plan ahead to accomplish two classes and work just was not happening when you get blindsided every Monday and the group project wouldn't be assigned until the last month of class.

My first class was good - organized, clear expectations, assignments that reinforced what we learned. Everything was written assignments.

The second class - I don't think anyone was forcing the guy to teach, but he was so apathetic I have to assume someone was holding a gun to his head.  I learned literally nothing from him at all, and had to complain to the program director before that guy posted anything resembling a syllabus. Everything was written assignments.

My current class has a group project, written assignments, discussion posts and online timed tests.  The instructor is organized, but this required class topic is just mind numbingly boring to me.

Every class involves some sort of group project, with the excuse of "you need to learn to work with people in different places."  Great, except we all do that every day in our careers, so making our grade rely on people who may not care that much is absurd.  

I need a piece of paper so I can transition out of my dead end academic research career into something with more job stability, so I plan to stick it out and hope other instructors actually care about what they are doing.  Many former students who are in the Baltimore area have transitioned to jobs with the FDA, so I don't feel it's a total waste.


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  • 7 months later...

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