Northeastern University’s Biotechnology Initiative and Professional Science Master’s Degrees Underscored by New Federal Report

Boston, Mass. – A new report from the National Research Council (NRC) suggests that policymakers, universities, and employers should work together to speed the development of professionally oriented master’s degree programs in the natural sciences. Titled “Science Professionals: Master’s Education for a Competitive World,” the report underscores Northeastern University’s commitment to interdisciplinary science and research through its Biotechnology Initiative and three Professional Science Master’s (PSM) Degrees in Bioinformatics, Biotechnology and Marine Biology.

Master’s degrees in many fields of the natural sciences traditionally have been embedded in the path to a doctorate rather than viewed as ends in themselves. But over the past decade, foundations and universities have worked together to develop new master’s programs for students seeking professional skills for the global economy. These PSM programs typically build communication and problem-solving skills along with advanced scientific knowledge, and emphasize interdisciplinary training. Such programs do not replace traditional master’s programs, the NRC report notes, but augment them by serving students who have a different scientific career path in mind.

Through an innovative collaboration, chemists, physicists, pharmaceutical scientists, researchers, biologists, and engineers at Northeastern University are working to solve today’s pressing medical and biological dilemmas. Along with the University’s PSM programs, the Biotechnology Initiative was created to encompass these efforts.

“Biotechnology’s emergence at the intersection of a number of prosperous disciplines is highlighted by members of the Initiative,” said Dr. Graham B. Jones, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology and Director of the Biotechnology Initiative. “As we continue to add faculty in biotechnology research and education, and as we produce highly skilled workers for the industry, the Initiative will play an important role in further positioning Northeastern as one of the nation’s top research universities.”

The Biotechnology Initiative’s interdisciplinary research and educational effort add immeasurably to the intellectual vitality of Northeastern University and the Boston area’s thriving biotechnology landscape. The College of Arts and Sciences, the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, the Barnett Institute, the College of Engineering, the College of Business Administration, and the College of Computer and Information Science collaborate in the interdisciplinary Biotechnology Initiative.

Built on traditions that have been sustained for over a century, the Biotechnology Initiative emphasizes Northeastern University’s leadership in experiential education; record of educating intellectually dynamic, achievement-oriented students; and commitment to cultivating mutually rewarding partnerships with businesses in our urban community.

Professional Science Master’s Degrees at Northeastern University:


The major educational objective for students in the Professional Science Master’s in Bioinformatics program is the attainment of a common core of knowledge in bioinformatics, with particular emphasis on the ability to integrate knowledge from biological, computational, and mathematical disciplines. Because Bioinformatics as a field is changing rapidly, we must also inspire our students to engage continuously in self-education so that they can perform at the highest level of professional competence throughout their careers.


The Professional Master’s in Biotechnology has three tracks: Molecular Biotechnology, Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, and Engineering Biotechnology. Molecular Biotechnology training focuses on genomics, proteomics, and drug discovery pathways, Pharmaceutical Biotechnology training focuses on drug development and evaluation, and Engineering Biotechnology focuses on process engineering. The program consists of didactic and laboratory courses and a course in Biotechnology Management that provides comprehensive training in business aspects of biotechnology, professional skills, and ethical considerations. The four-month paid internship provides “real-world” learning opportunity in the local pharmaceutical or biotechnology industry.

Marine Biology

The Professional Master’s in Marine Biology provides the advanced skill set needed to pursue an entry–to mid-level career in marine research, or can serve as a springboard into the nation’s top Ph.D. programs in marine biology. This 15-month full-time program is offered in conjunction with Northeastern University’s Three Seas Program in which students who wish to move beyond the confines of the traditional classroom spend an exciting year of field and laboratory studies at three very different locations in the United States and the South Pacific.

The NRC study was sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter. The Research Council is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

For more information, please contact Samantha Fodrowski at 617-373-5427 or at

About Northeastern

Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a private research university located in the heart of Boston. Northeastern is a leader in interdisciplinary research, urban engagement, and the integration of classroom learning with real-world experience. The university’s distinctive cooperative education program, where students alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid work in fields relevant to their professional interests and major, is one of the largest and most innovative in the world. The University offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in six undergraduate colleges, eight graduate schools, and two part-time divisions. For more information, please visit