How to Pursue MS Biotech/Biomedical Abroad with Funding and Improve Post-MS Job Chances

Post-pandemic, the popularity for pursuing MS Biotechnology & Biomedical Science/Engineering has received a huge boost. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 7% growth rate for jobs in the biotechnology & biomedical sector between 2020 and 2030, which is faster than the projected growth rate of 5% for all other professions. For biomedical engineering, it is 6% with even higher salaries. In this post, I am going to lay out a step-by-step guide on how to pursue MS Biotech/Biomedical abroad with funding and creating high post-MS job prospects (and possible immigration/PR opportunities).

Step#1: Choose the Right Program

Here are the most popular programs (or courses):

  • MS with Thesis
  • MS with Coursework / Project / Internship (Non-Thesis)
  • PSM Biotechnology (Mandatory Co-op / Internship along with modules on Business & Commercialization)
  • MS Biotech with focus on Bio-Business, Innovation & Bio-Entrepreneurship
  • MS Biotechnology Management
  • MS-MBA Dual Degree
  • MS with Fast-Track PhD Option / Integrated MS-PhD Program

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How to Choose the Right Program

By all means, choose the right program depending on your interests, career goals, and personal priorities.

Of course, the best option for securing generous funding would be available for MS-Thesis and MS-PhD options.

However, if you are not interested in pursuing a research career, then it doesn’t make sense to go for a thesis-based track.

There is no point in landing up in a job role that doesn’t excite you. In that case, you would do a mediocre job. That will seriously affect the chances of getting your employment contract getting renewed (and will also impact your stay-back and immigration possibilities).

If you are interested in research, by all means, opt for the MS-Thesis option and reach out to the potential supervisors well in advance – ideally, 18 months before the course commencement. That will ensure you find a suitable supervisor and secure generous funding (tuition fee waiver and a monthly stipend to take care of your living expenses).

For other programs, a stipend might not be possible. However, you can always apply for tuition fee scholarships.

Additionally, if you like lab-based research, but wish to switch to commercial or business-oriented roles – PSM or MS with Coursework (including Internship/Co-op) can do wonders in terms of finding a suitable job after finishing your degree abroad.

If you are not at all interested in lab-based job functions, a dual degree or MS in Biotechnology Management would be a better option. Read how to get into biotechnology management and consulting.

Related Articles:

PSM vs MS Biotechnology – How to Choose the Right Master’s Program in the US

33 Best Masters Biotechnology Programs with Focus on Commercialization, Business & Entrepreneurship in Europe

Step#2: Choose Universities Close to Biotech-Pharma Hubs

Biotechnology and biomedical science/engineering domain is an extremely practical-oriented one. You do need to have a solid understanding of the fundamental concepts. But, practical skills and technicalities are equally important. Now, you must be wondering how the location has a role to play in that.

Advantages of studying at a University in Proximity to a Biotech-Pharma Hub (or Cluster):

  • Firstly, the University will have close collaboration with the spin-out companies and start-ups (that’s how it works in the real bio-pharma world). So, access to the companies and working on a couple of commercial projects will help you a lot in the long term.
  • High possibility of landing up in a commercial project at the University, or internship with a company during your studies. Long shot – you might end up in a full-time job as well.
  • The biotech-pharma clusters contribute a lot to biomedical and biotechnology research by attracting funds, proximity to the leading research-based universities, and availability of a talent pool. So, the faculty members are also likely to have more funding to support international students.

Read more about the Biggest Biotech-Pharma Hubs and Nearby Universities.

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Step#3: Contact the Faculty Members

A supervisor is a professor (or faculty member) who oversees your research and the development of your thesis. They provide mentorship, support, and guidance throughout your Master’s program. 

Your relationship with your supervisor will be one of the most important factors contributing to the success of your graduate studies.

Taking the time to find a supervisor who will complement your research and learning style will help to ensure the success of this relationship.

In Canada, it is mandatory to contact and find a supervisor in order to apply for MS-Thesis programs. In the US, it is not mandatory. However, it’s strongly recommended.

Contacting Supervisors for MS in USA

As you can see from the above screenshot, you might be asked to contact and get approved by a Supervisor after getting accepted by the Grad School. Unless you find one supervisor, your admission will not be confirmed.

Read how to find and contact potential supervisors for MS.

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Step#4: Craft a Strong Statement of Purpose (SoP) or Personal Statement

The statement of purpose (SoP) should convince readers – the faculty on the selection committee and admission officers – that you have solid achievements behind you that show promise for your success in graduate study. Think of the statement of purpose as a composition with different parts.

Hence, it’s a great way to stand out in the highly competitive applicant pool.

Two critical areas in the SoP where the majority of candidates struggle are:

  • Why a Masters / Why Masters in this Subject Area?
  • Why this University / Program?

Here is an example of how you can demonstrate the motivation of pursuing a particular subject:

Sample SOP for Grad School

Here is an example of how to tackle the “Why this University/Program” section:

Related Articles:

How to Write a Statement of Purpose (SOP) for MS

How to Write an SOP for Ivy League and Elite Universities

Statement of Purpose vs Personal Statement vs Letter of Motivation

Step#5: Provide Strong & Personalized Letters of Recommendation (LoR)

Who should be your Referee or Recommender?

  • It’s better to take a LoR from an Asst. Professor who taught you core subjects for two semesters (or more) or supervised you for Dissertation/Project (can tell about your personality, strengths & weaknesses), rather than taking a generic LoR from Dean or Principal.
  • Immediate (Reporting) Manager or Supervisor over VP or CEO (unless they are your reporting Manager)

LOR Strategies and Tips

Through LORs, Adcom/Universities Want to Assess Your

  • Potential as a Graduate/Masters Student to Succeed in the program
  • Why you are an asset
  • How you would make a valuable contribution to the community
  • How this program can help your career

Your Recommender Should Talk about your:

  • Academic/Professional Achievements, Curiosity, and Motivation
  • Communication Skills
  • Technical Aptitude
  • Professional Career Growth
  • Personal qualities (strengths & weaknesses, personal goals, interests, etc.)
  • Must provide strong examples

Related Post: How to Get a Strong & Personalized Letter of Recommendation for Masters

Step#6: Start Early and Apply for Prestigious Scholarships & Fully-Funded Programs

There are several scholarship schemes that cover full tuition fees, living allowance, return airfare, visa & healthcare insurance costs. Of course, you need to have a stellar profile.

But, a majority of candidates miss out on these scholarship schemes because they start late.

Full Scholarship Schemes for Studying in the UK

For Rhodes Scholarship, the deadline for the Fall 2022 round was Aug 2, 2021.

Fully-Funded Masters in Canada

As you can see in the above screenshot, the application deadline for this fully-funded Masters program was August 16, 2021 (starts in Jan 2022 / Sep 2022).

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Step#7: Build Transferrable Skills

Bioinformatics and Data Science for Biology Skillset

With the increasing popularity of computational biology and bioinformatics, a tremendous amount of biological research is now happening in silico. So, whether it is wet-lab or dry-lab, you can’t ignore data analysis and programming anymore.

Modern biological and biomedical researchers create computer models to simulate a biochemical reaction within the human body. They may also use computational mathematics to examine an experiment’s results to determine the best compound for a particular drug.

Key skills for data analysis in biomedical science include SQL programming, statistical programming for large data sets using languages such as Python and R, and the development of algorithms for complex machine learning or artificial intelligence. Read more about the role of programming in modern biology and medicine.

Building data visualization skills and learning to present research findings will also benefit individuals in these roles, as analysts are commonly called upon to explain an experiment’s findings to non-technical audiences.

These skills will not only improve your admission chances but also your post-MS job prospects. Hence, it’s only wise to pick up the programming & data science skills in order to stand out in the applicant pool.

Foreign Language Skills

Knowing more than one language is nearly vital in today’s world. But, is it that important while applying for MS Biotech/Biomedical abroad? Let’s have a look at the benefits of knowing a foreign language.

Advantages of Knowing a Foreign Language

When you are looking for a Masters in Europe, knowledge of a foreign language is always handy.

  • It will help you to integrate socially into the new country. Secondly, it also helps the process of networking and collaboration easier, which are critical in academic research.
  • If you are in the US, and you can speak Chinese, Hindi, or Spanish, you can bag a few part-time jobs on the campus that requires interacting with new international students. Additionally, you can also gain an edge to secure a Teaching Assistantship (TA) or a tutoring/mentoring role.
  • One of the key attributes that supervisors and graduate schools look for is adaptability and open-mindedness to learning new things. If you are someone who has spent time (and effort) learning a new foreign language, that automatically sends a positive signal to the admissions committee.
  • It makes you stand out and helps to demonstrate intellectual curiosity, cross-cultural intelligence, and emotional intelligence.
  • Last but not the least, apart from international research collaborations, a foreign language could also open up avenues for transnational research funding.

Articles You Might Like to Read:

Best Universities for MS Biotechnology in USA

Top MS Biotech/Biomedical Programs in USA without GRE

Best Universities for MS Biotechnology in Canada

Top MS Biotech/Biomedical Programs in Europe with Generous Scholarships

Best Masters in Biotech/Biomedical Programs in Europe without Tuition Fees (or Low Tuition Fees)

Best Masters (MS) Biotech/Biomedical Programs in Germany

Top Universities for Biotech/Biomedical in UK

Best Universities for Masters in Bioinformatics in UK

Best Universities for MS Bioinformatics in USA

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Tanmoy Ray
I am a Career Adviser & Admission Consultant. Additionally, I also manage Operations at Stoodnt. I did my Masters from the UK (Aston University) and have worked at the University of Oxford (UK), Utrecht University (Netherlands), University of New South Wales (Australia) and MeetUniversity (India).
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