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A masters in biomedical science allows students to choose a specialization and immerse themselves in the subject area. Examples of concentrations include gerontology, neuroscience, medical informatics and more.
Biomedical science is an interdisciplinary field of study involving the biological sciences and their application to the medical field. The field is very broad, in large part due to the astonishing recent growth of fields like molecular science, biochemistry, and genetics. Biomedical scientists conduct research to understand the complex workings of life organisms, and apply the research to developing new tools, methods and strategies for curing disease.
Biomedical Science Master's Programs and Curriculum
The field of biomedical science is complex. Students who want to complete a master’s in biomedical science or a Ph.D. in biomedical science should have a solid academic background in the sciences and mathematics, especially in fields like physics, biochemistry, calculus and biology. After completing a graduate degree in biomedical science, students will be prepared to work in a variety of settings including hospitals, research institutes, universities and laboratories.
Students should also be interested in conducting research because the vast majority of work in biomedical science involves research and related work. Biomedical scientists work in teams with other scientists and health care workers, so good communication skills are critical. Biomedical scientists need to be able to translate their work and research into coherent written reports and oral presentations that both scientists and laypeople can understand.
Generally, a graduate-level biomedical science program has two purposes:
To prepare graduates for further academic and research training at the Ph.D. level, or for medical school
To prepare graduates for jobs as technicians and managers in labs, and as educators and scientists in a number of fields from government agencies to pharmaceutical and hospital settings.
Students who want to apply for a master’s degree program in biomedical science should have an undergraduate degree in a related field as well as a very strong academic background. They will need to complete all required graduate examinations, and many programs require a specialized science or mathematics exam as well. It is common for master’s in biomedical science degrees to focus on one of several areas of study, including:
Coursework usually takes about two years to complete, with the second year of work focusing more heavily on research and the creation and defense of an original thesis based on the research.
Biomedical science at the doctoral level has numerous discrete fields of study. Students who wish to enter a Ph.D. program in biomedical science will be required to meet the same requirements as a master’s degree applicant, as well as providing a letter of intent and letters of recommendation. Upon acceptance (or in some programs, during the application process) students will be required to choose a focused track of study, or to create, and have approved, an individualized program of interdisciplinary study. Ph.D. degrees in biomedical science may be specialized in one of a number of different areas, including:
Cell and developmental biology
Molecular and cellular pathology
Cancer biologyHuman genetics
Source: University of Michigan Medical School
A Ph.D. program in biomedical science is an extremely rigorous course of study, taking five to seven years to complete. Core classes will be heavily focused on biological sciences and medical information classes, and may include:
Tissue and organ biology
Human disease: Technologies and biomedical applications
Source: University of California, San Francisco
A significant portion of the Ph.D. program is dedicated to laboratory studies and teaching. The final two years of the program focus on completion of research studies and the presentation and defense of a dissertation in the specialized field of study.
Master's in Biomedical Science Career Paths
Biomedical scientists have a wide array of career options available to them. They can teach at the high school, undergraduate, or graduate level, and conduct research in university settings, laboratories, medical facilities and research institutes. They can function as policy makers and writers. They can work at philanthropic and non-profit organizations, consulting firms, law firms, communication organizations, government agencies, academic institutions, and pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
Data according to Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Ed.
Biomedical Science Future Job Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for all medical scientists was $76,710 in 2010. Those in the top 90% had a median annual salary of $142,800.
Data according to Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Ed.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the future job outlook for biomedical scientists is expected to be very good, with job opportunities for those with Ph.D.’s and M.D.’s being the best. Job growth in the sector is expected to be much faster than average, with a growth of 40% in the field between 2008 and 2018. This is due in large part to the tremendous research gains in the field in the last few decades.
The biomedical sciences employ both natural and formal science with various technologies and medical innovations to achieve its primary goal of advancing public health through science. The field is divided up into three major specializations: physiological sciences, life sciences and physics and bioengineering sciences. Each specialization involves its own unique areas of research, technology and fieldwork.
Pursuing career opportunities in each of the various biomedical sciences fields usually involves extensive study and training as well as strong communications, data analysis and critical thinking skills. A mastery of applied sciences and a desire to improve public medicine and healthcare are also paramount.
Educational Path for Master's in Biomedical Scientists
Many colleges and universities throughout the world offer on campus graduate programs in biomedical science fields, some offer online courses as well. Online courses offer a great degree of flexibility and are readily available for a number of specializations within the field of biomedical science.
To become a biomedical scientists in one of the fields many specializations, a great degree of study, research and rigorous lab work is required. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, biomedical scientists usually require a Ph.D. from an accredited institution or online program. In some cases, a medical degree is also acceptable.
Aspiring biomedical scientists might start their educational journey by earning a bachelor’s degree in a field like biology, chemistry, biological sciences or other related fields. Many undergraduate classes offer a basic introduction to biomedical science as well as the opportunity to learn critical skills in the field in a hands-on fashion.
Upon completion of their undergraduate work, aspiring biomedical scientists might choose to enroll in a master’s degree or Ph.D. program for more advanced research and study. Some common Ph.D. concentrations for biomedical science graduate students include; Cancer Research, Clinical and Medical Informatics, Gerontology, Immunology, Neuroscience, and Toxicology. Ph.D. work usually focuses more acutely on hands-on research and advanced laboratory work. Programs usually culminate with a thesis project as students begin to specialize in one particular area. In some cases, dual Ph.D. programs may be offered.
Some medical science students may also choose to enter medical school, in which they typically spend about 2 years engaging in lab work and intensive study in areas such as biochemistry, anatomy, pathology, medical law, psychology and other related fields. Some students are also required to enter residency programs and learn from a more hands-on perspective. Medical students may also wish to pursue postdoctoral work to further advance their education and knowledge of the fields of biomedical sciences. Oftentimes, postdoctoral work involves advanced research and intensive laboratory work, all of which offer the opportunity to further their knowledge of biomedical science and excel in the field.
Biomedical scientists who primarily perform research and lab work aren’t typically required to become certified or licensed, although those who practice medicine, administer drugs or are involved with gene therapy may be required to obtain a license to practice as a professional physician.
Ideally, a biomedical scientist should possess mastery of a number of skills including solid communication abilities, analytical and observation skills. Intensive lab work and research experience are also typically expected for individuals pursing career opportunities in some biomedical science fields, especially areas that don’t involve practicing medicine or administering drugs to patients.
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