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biotechnology program at montgomery college

Biotechnology Program

Supported by the Paul Peck Applied Science and Technology Center

Biotechnology Program FAQ

General

What can you tell me about the program?
Why should I enroll in this program? 
What classes are offered? 
Is there a specific order in which to take the classes?
I have a life sciences degree - what courses do I need for the biotechnology certificate?
I have a Ph.D., M.D., D.V.M. Is this program for me?
When are the classes offered?
Where can I take classes?
What do I have to do to register for the classes or apply to the program?
Can I register for just one class?
Can I just take the lecture and not the lab?
I don’t want to have to take a course for the entire semester - what can I do?
What is the difference between a short course and the semester long course?
I am already working at a Biotechnology company - how can I take a practicum (internship)? 
How long will it take me to complete the program?
What is the difference between the A.A.S. degree and the certificate options?
After completing my A.A.S. can I transfer to a 4 year school? Should I take this program and what do I do?
I am not a current student at Montgomery College; what do I need to do to enroll?  

Tuition, Fees, & Scholarships

How much does it cost? 
Is there a lab fee?
Are scholarships available and how do I apply for one? 

Careers and Continuing Education

What do students do on completion of the program? 
How many students find employment?
Am I guaranteed a job? Will you find me a job? Can I continue for a Bachelors degree? 
Will Biotechnology classes help  me get into medical, dental, or veterinary school?
Where do students find work?  
I don’t want to get a Ph.D. or an M.D. - is there still advancement potential for me?
What is the job like?
What is the starting salary?
What benefits are included?

International Students

I am an international student. What about me? 
I am an international student with a foreign degree. Does that count?
I don’t have a "green card"; can I still do the internship and get paid? 
I am an International student but not a current student at Montgomery College; what do I need to do to enroll?

Additional Questions

I have a question that is not listed. Who do I contact for additional questions?


General

What can you tell me about the program?

The Biotechnology Program has one primary mission: to teach our students how to be successful in the field of biotechnology, both academically and in the workforce.  There are several options for students to develop knowledge and skills in the field of biotechnology.

The credit program has three options - a certificate in Biomanufacturing, an A.A.S. degree in Biotechnology and a Certificate in Biotechnology.  There are also non-credit courses and workshops offered through the Workforce Development and Continuing Education.

The biotechnology courses have been developed with input from the local biotechnology industry in Montgomery County, Maryland.  These courses are designed to integrate the theory taught in lecture with hands-on practical skills relevant to the biotechnology industry.  The laboratory protocols we use are the same as those used in real world research labs. We do not use educational kits or demonstrations. We emphasize the development and understanding of basic laboratory skills in the areas of cell culture, instrumentation, genomics, proteomics, and immunology. (For a more complete description please refer to the individual courses.) There is sufficient equipment for each pair of students in a class and all students will have the opportunity to work on the equipment. 

The non-credit, workforce development program offers short courses or workshops (generally less than one week) to address specific training needs in the biotechnology industry.  The workshops can cover either laboratory skills or non-laboratory issues.  Non-laboratory workshop topics include “Team Business for Biotechnology” and “Job Hunting Skills for Scientists.”  “Introduction to GLP” is an excellent beginner’s course for those requiring knowledge of regulatory affairs.  Please refer to the Continuing Education Workforce Development section of this site for additional details.  We offer custom courses designed to meet business needs. www.montgomerycollege.edu/Departments/cedeptrv/index.html

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Why should I enroll in this program?

This program offers a hands-on approach to learning basic skills in biotechnology.  A benefit of this program is that upon completion of the biotechnology courses you will be prepared to enter the biotechnology workforce.  The majority of students taking credit classes have jobs before completing the program or within 6 months of completion, providing they are eligible to enter the workforce (e.g. U.S. citizen or green card holder).  An added incentive is that the tuition at Montgomery College is among the lowest in the area. 

If you are already employed in the biotechnology industry, this program can help you improve your current job skills, prepare you for a move within your company, or provide you with additional job skills. 


If you have been out of the science workforce for a few years, this program is an excellent and economical way to brush up and become current with your skills.

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Which classes are offered?

The following courses form the core of the biotechnology program:

BT 101 Introduction to Biotechnology  

BT 115 Instrumentation for the Biotechnology Laboratory

BT 117 Cell Culture and Cell Function

BT 200 Protein Biotechnology

BT 204 Immunology and Immunological Methods

BT 213 Nucleic Acid Analysis

BT 235  Principles of Biomanufacturing

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Is there a specific order in which to take the classes?

It depends on your background.  BT 101 has no prerequisites but most science courses do.  Please consult a counselor or BT faculty member for advising.

For the Biotechnology courses the preferred order is the numerical order of the courses:

Biotechnology Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.)

Fall 1

Spring 1

BI 107
CH 101
EN 101
MA 101 or higher

BT 101
BI 203
CH 102 (elective)
EN

Summer
CH 203/ BT 204

Fall 2

Spring 2

BI 209
BT 117
BT 200
SP 108
HE

CH 204 (elective)
MA (elective) or CA 120
BT 213
AR/HU Distribution
Behavioral and Social Science Distribution

 

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I have a life sciences degree - what courses do I need for the biotechnology certificate?

If you have taken college level chemistry and biology and you remember it - then all you need to take are the biotechnology courses:

Biotechnology: BT 101, BT 115, BT117, BT200, BT 204 and BT 213

The prerequisite for BT courses are General Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Microbiology.  See the course descriptions for the specifics and ask us if you have any questions.

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I have a Ph.D., M.D., or D.V.M.  Is this program for me?

Probably not - while we would love to have you as our student, we focus on basic, fundamental techniques.  Our lectures and labs are designed for the novice so it is likely that our level is too elementary for you.  If you have absolutely no training in one of the areas we provide instruction in, such as Cell Culture or GLP/GMP, then our Biotechnology Program might be appropriate for you.  In this case it would be best to contact the coordinator for additional information. 
 
If you are looking for more advanced training here are some recommended programs in the Washington DC area:

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When are the classes offered?

Classes are offered day and evening to accommodate students working first or second shifts.

Whether or not a class will run depends on the number of students enrolled, however, so please register early!  If a class fills up early and enough interest is present we will consider adding a second section of that course.

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Where can I take classes?

Biotechnology classes are offered only at the Germantown Campus of Montgomery College.  BT 101 is sometimes offered as a hybrid distance course.

All other courses (chemistry, biology, general studies) can be taken at any of the three Montgomery College campuses (Germantown, Rockville or Takoma Park).

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What do I have to do to register for the classes or apply to the program?

If you are currently enrolled at Montgomery College you should contact a Biotechnology faculty member or a counselor for academic advising.   

If you are a first time student at the college and have a degree, you will need to enroll in the college and then speak to a Biotechnology faculty member or counselor.  

If you are a first time student at the college and do not have a degree, you will need to start by speaking with an admissions counselor to determine if you need placement exams in Math, English, and Chemistry.  Study for these exams!  Once those are completed and you have met with a counselor, you should then contact the Biotechnology coordinator.

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Can I register for just one BT class?

Yes, as long as you have met the course prerequisites (have the proper science background) or obtain permission of the instructor or coordinator.

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Can I just take the lecture and not the lab?

No, the lecture and lab must be taken together.

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I don’t want to have to take a course for the entire semester - what can I do?

Check for short courses and workshops offered by Workforce Development and Continuing Education. 

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What is the difference between a short course and the semester long course?

A short course is usually completed anywhere from a few hours in one day to 6 hours a day for up to five days.  It is a concentrated and rapid survey of basic techniques and theory in a particular topic.  The semester course provides a more in-depth presentation of theory, more time in the laboratory, and more time for questions and assistance with things like calculations.  There are no exams in the short courses. A certificate of completion is awarded but the courses do not count for college credit.

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I am already working at a Biotechnology company - how can I take a practicum (internship)?

If you already work at a Biotechnology company you can be exempt from the practicum or can complete the practicum at your work site providing you are trained in something new or different from your current duties.  You do not have to do a practicum outside of your work place as that would present a major conflict of interest.  Talk to the Program Coordinator for additional details.

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How long will it take me to complete the program?

That depends on how many courses you take per semester and how well you do in them, plus how you do on your placement exams (where you start in the educational process):
 
This time frame assumes you are a full time student:

  • A.A.S. Degree 4 semesters
  • Certificate   2-3 semesters

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What is the difference between the A.A.S. degree and the certificate options?

If you do not have a college degree then you should consider obtaining the A.A.S. degree.  The A.A.S. degree includes science courses and general education requirements.  On completion of the A.A.S. degree you may continue your education to obtain a Bachelors Degree by articulation.

If you have a college degree then you should consider obtaining the Biotechnology certificate.  The Biotechnology certificate requires only science courses for completion but does not prepare you for transfer to a four year institution.  The certificate may be useful for those wanting to “brush-up” on their skills, to prepare for entry to graduate school, or to change fields.  

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After completing my A.A.S. can I transfer to a 4 year school?

Yes, by articulation. We currently have articulation agreements with:  Stevenson University, Towson State University, University of Maryland Shady Grove, Hood College, University of Maryland University College and Washington Adventist University.  More information here.

For other institutions check with the specific institution you intend to transfer to and see if the Biotechnology courses or any other courses will be counted as transfer credits.  The Program Coordinator will be happy to assist you as much as possible.

 

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Should I take this program and what do I do?

I have a Bachelor (or Masters) of Science in Biology, Chemistry or related field:

You should take this program if you need additional skills to be better prepared to enter the Biotechnology field or want to enhance your resume. The Biotechnology certificate option is recommended.  Many students who have completed their B.S. or M.S. and are having trouble finding a job in the Biotechnology field enroll in our program to increase their marketability. Our laboratories are hands-on practical applications of science.  Roughly 40% of the students enrolled in our program have already completed a Bachelors or Masters degree in a life science.

I have Bachelors (or Masters) Degree in a discipline other than science:

This program is an excellent starting point for those of you who are thinking of a career change - we start at the beginning and move to advanced topics and are very reasonably priced.  In addition to the biotechnology courses you will also have to take the other prerequisite science courses.

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Tuition, Fees, & Scholarships

How much does it cost?

www.montgomerycollege.edu/admissions/index.html#tuition

Text book costs: for a single course the total text book costs are generally under $200 and we try to use the same book for several courses.

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Is there a lab fee?

No, Montgomery College does no charge lab fees.

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Are scholarships available and how do I apply for one?

A limited number of scholarships are available specifically for Biotechnology students thanks to the generosity of the Biotechnology industry and private donations. 

Other general scholarships and financial aid can be located with the assistance of the Montgomery College financial aid office. 

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Careers and Continuing Education

What do students do on completion of the program?

Most students accept full time employment at a biotechnology company (provided they are eligible to work – are a U.S. citizen or permanent citizen) and many continue to complete their Bachelor's and Master's degrees.  (See transfer and articulations above)

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How many students find employment?

Most eligible students who successfully complete 3 or more biotechnology laboratory courses obtain full time employment - usually within 6 months of completing their last course.  Most become full-time employees before finishing the program.  Successful completion of the program is defined as:

  • 2.5 or better GPA
  • Regular attendance to all classes, including arriving on time and remaining to complete the work.
  • Learning and applying proper laboratory practices such as maintaining an up-to-date accurate laboratory notebook, proper care and use of equipment and observation of safety rules.
  • Proper behavior in the lab - working as part of a team, being attentive, being courteous, sharing knowledge and participating in the work.
  • Able to carry out, understand, and explain the basic protocols covered in the lab.

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Am I guaranteed a job? Will you find me a job?

No, we cannot guarantee anyone a job.  We do, however, provide detailed recommendations to employers so they can hire well-prepared students.

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Can I continue for a Bachelors degree?

Yes - The Biotechnology Program at Montgomery College is proud to have established articulation agreements with specific institutions.  

An articulation agreement means that the courses (up to 60 credits) completed in pursuit of the A.A.S. Degree in Biotechnology transfer to these institutions allowing you to enter as a junior.

The College is always interested in establishing additional agreements.

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Will Biotechnology classes help me get into medical, dental, or veterinary school?

No. If that is your goal, these classes will certainly better prepare you for professional schools but most likely will not directly influence admission decisions.  The Biotechnology classes do not count as pre-med, pre-vet or pre-dent credits.

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Where do students find work? 

The majority of our students find work right here in Montgomery County, Maryland at local biotechnology companies and research organizations such as the National Institutes of Health.

Some students have moved since completing the program and have obtained positions in other regions such as Boston, MA, or Research Triangle, NC.

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I don’t want to get a Ph.D. or an M.D. - is there still advancement potential for me?

If you have a position at a biotechnology company (i.e. industry) the answer is a resounding YES! Companies tend to promote based on success as much as academic credentials - it may take a little longer and you may eventually have to obtain a B.S. and M.S. degree but you can be promoted even with an A.A.S. degree.

If you have a position at an academic institution such as a university or government laboratory your ability to advance without a higher degree (Ph.D. or M.D.) is limited – however in many cases individual laboratories at these institutions encourage and support their lab technicians to complete the higher degree.

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What is the job like?

Your job duties will vary depending on the company you work at.  Some students are assigned to duties such as buffer or media preparation while others work in cell culture facilities growing cells to produce antibodies or to use as test platforms for drug discovery.  Others are involved in the manufacturing side of biotechnology including scale-up of fermentation or bioreactor processes, or downstream processing of products such as large scale protein purification.  Jobs in biotechnology require knowledge, focus, common sense, some eye-hand coordination, patience and dedication.  Any of the jobs are challenging and involve applied science where you will be developing or making products that benefit mankind. 

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What is the starting salary?

Most companies pay in the range of $32,000 to $38,000 per year which corresponds to $15 - $18 hour plus benefits.

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What benefits are included?

Benefits vary by employer but might include:

  • Health insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Retirement plan such as 401K.
  • Tuition reimbursement.  If you take classes that are relevant to work such as completing your BS or MS, the company will pay the tuition over and above your normal salary.  This is not a loan.
  • Stock options.

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I am an international student. What about me?

International students are welcome in the Biotechnology program.  Montgomery College has students from over 170 different countries.  Before joining the program you may be required to take the TOEFL examination and other placement exams as recommended by the academic counseling staff.

Information on transcript evaluation can be found here.

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I am an international student with a foreign degree. Does that count?

It might - check with admissions and obtain the information needed for a transcript evaluation.  Some or all of the classes you completed abroad may count as college credit here at Montgomery College. 

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I don’t have a "green card"; can I still do the internship and get paid?

Maybe, It is often difficult to find a position without the proper documentation.  It is extremely important that your visa is up to date and current!  In some cases a company will consent to allow an international student the experience of the practicum as that can be a requirement for obtaining your degree or certificate.  With appropriate documentation from Biotech Coordinator the program you may be able to work temporarily for a limited time on your student visa. Contact the international student advisor for additional information.  Please be aware that there is no promise or guarantee that you will be allowed to obtain a practicum, be hired or be supported for an H1 visa or green card application by any company.  It is not the intent or responsibility of the Biotechnology Program or those companies that sponsor internships to assist in change of visa status. 

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I am an International student but not a current student at Montgomery College; what do I need to do to enroll?

You should start by contacting either Dr. Collins Jones or Dr. Lori Kelman and fill out an application. (www.montgomerycollege.edu/admissions)  Please have the proper visas and your visa status up to date if you are an international student.

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Additional Questions

I have a question that is not listed. Who do I contact for additional questions?

How can I contact the Biotechnology program at Montgomery College?

Dr. Collins Jones
20200 Observation Drive, HT 421   
Germantown, MD 20876    
Collins.Jones@montgomerycollege.edu  

Dr. Lori Kelman
20200 Observation Drive, HT 418
Germantown, MD 20876
Lori.Kelman@montgomerycollege.edu

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Last updated 04/08/2014


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