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Resources and FAQs

Resources and Information about the Biotechnology Program

Biotechnology Mon@4 Webinars

Engage with representatives from MC Biotech, Frederick Community College Biotechnology, and UMBC TLST and biotechnology industry leaders though our Mondays at 4 pm webinar series! This semester-long symposium will take place online (via Zoom) from 4:00 - 4:45 pm on select Monday afternoons throughout the semester. Sessions will focus on a variety of topics related to biotechnology in a pandemic.

Register for the webinarnew window
You only need to register once and will receive reminders for all fall 2021 biotechnology webinars. Currently scheduled webinars are listed on the registration form.

Spring 2021 Webinars

Recordings of the Spring 2021 webinars are available. 

Introduction to Vaccines | Monday, February 8

An introduction to vaccines and how they work. Types of vaccines and Covid-19 vaccines. Careers in vaccines. Presented by David Koelle, MD, Professor, Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Washington.
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How To Win The Interview With Biotechnology Companies | Monday, February 22

Learn how to best prepare for your interview and land the job. Topics covered will include tips for preparation, questions to ask, how people usually strike out during interviews, and thank you notes. Presented by Jillian Mahoney and Kristina Warwick, Life Science Recruiters, Aerotek.
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All Viruses Big and Small…or maybe All Viruses Deadly or Not | Monday, March 8

The coronavirus pandemic has created lots of questions. When can we go back to school or how does “herd immunity” work? Perhaps you’d like to learn more about other viruses such as smallpox, influenza, or Ebola. To answer your questions, we’ve invited a virologist to chat about all things viral. Presented by Natalie Leach Stringer, Technical Customer Trainer, Miltenyi Biotec, Inc.
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The Translational Life Science Technology (TLST) Program at UMBC | Monday, March 22

Take a virtual tour of the new TLST laboratory facilities and find out how a BS degree in applied biotechnology can work for you. Presented by Dr. Elizabeth Friar, Program Director of TLST at UMBC-Shady Grove.
Recordingnew window

Antibody Expression in E. coli | Monday, March 29

E. coli is a common platform for recombinant protein expression. An interesting observation regarding translation initiation was made while expressing an antibody. Presented by Zvi Kelman, Director BL2, NIST.
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Many Rivers to Cross: The Companies, Connections & Careers Needed for Producing mRNA Vaccines | Monday, April 5

When we read about vaccines in the news, it sounds like a handful of companies are doing everything. As it often happens, the real story is more complicated. Both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines rely on large networks of suppliers and manufacturers for successfully producing, tracking, and distributing doses. In this talk, we’ll follow the path and explore the different careers for the people and companies working to protect us from COVID-19. Presented by Dr. Sandra Porter, President, Digital World Biology, InnovATEBIO Leadership Team.
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Apprenticeships Available at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) | Monday, April 12

Exciting things are happening at GSK and we want you to be part of them. Learn about awesome and challenging apprenticeships located near you available to high school seniors and college freshman. Are you up for the challenge? Presented by Williams Ochoa and Nancia Razakanjohary.
Recordingnew window

Brush up on human oral health: Salivary flow and the human oral microbiome | Monday, April 19

First, a brief introduction to my career arc as a first-generation college student who failed out of a regional university before studying at several community colleges prior to completing a PhD at Stanford University. Then, the role that salivary flow plays in shaping human oral health, introducing students to the use of phylogenetic marker genes to characterize the composition of the microorganisms that inhabit the human body. Presented by Dr. Diana Proctor, Postdoctoral Fellow, National Human Genome Research Institute.
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Rapid Development and Manufacturing of Vaccines | Monday, April 26

FDA’s current regulatory framework assures highest safety standards for vaccines but drives a vaccine development to commercial delivery timeline of on average of 6-7 years from initial clinical study start. Some extraordinary events such as bioterrorism threats or pandemics can expedite the process. The speaker will discuss real-world experience with urgent development and stockpile of the smallpox vaccine. Presented by Jeff Wells, Valogic.
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Fall 2020 Webinars

Recordings of the Fall 2020 webinars are available. 

The Biotechnology Industry in Maryland | Monday, September 28

Maryland is ranked 4th in the US for biotechnology, with the goal to be in the top 3 by 2023. Find out about some of our local companies in an overview of the industry. Presented by Dr. Collins Jones, Biotechnology Industry Coordinator at Montgomery College.
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Applying For A Job in Biotechnology | Monday, October 5

Learn the importance of your resume and the basics of formatting your resume to best represent you and your skill set. In addition, topics covered will include applying for openings, online presence, interview skills, and interview preparation. Presented by Nick Wright, Recruiter, Catalent, Inc.
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The Biotechnology Program at Montgomery College | Monday, October 12

Montgomery College Biotech has the largest program in the state and one of the best biotech programs in the country. Take a virtual tour of the program and see why graduates have the MC Biotech Advantage in starting their career. Presented by Dr. Lori Kelman, Biotechnology Education Coordinator & Dr. Collins Jones, Biotechnology Industry Coordinator, at Montgomery College.
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What It Takes To Work In A Biotech Company | Monday, October 19

Learn about Frederick Community College's biotech program and hear from students what it is like and what it takes to work in a biotech company. Presented by Dr. Savita Prabhakar, Program Manager of Biotechnology at Frederick Community College.
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The Translational Life Science Technology (TLST) Program at UMBC | Monday, October 26

Take a virtual tour of the new TLST laboratory facilities and find out how a BS degree in applied biotechnology can work for you. Presented by Dr. Elizabeth Friar, Program Director of TLST at UMBC-Shady Grove.
Recordingnew window

A Day in the Life of a Quality Control Analyst | Monday, November 2

AstraZeneca is one of the leading biopharmaceutical companies globally, but what is it like behind the curtain? How do Quality Control analysts contribute to the manufacturing of medicines? Presented by Erica Weiner, Senior QC Analyst, AstraZeneca.
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How Did I Get Here? A Personal Journey to a Life of Science & Discovery | Monday, November 9

Join us as we hear from Paul Goodwin, President of The Histochemical Society and Science Director for Cytiva, a major Life Sciences company, as he tells his personal career path, his passions, and some of the important work that he doing. Mr. Goodwin’s story shows how you don’t need a Doctorate degree to have a fulfilling career in biotechnology.
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Engage with UMBC TLST Students Completing Internships | Monday, November 16

Stephane Djoumessi - Interning at American Gene Technologies
Jackelyn Flores - Working in Cell Therapy Clinical Manufacturing
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Virtual Viewing of the Award-Winning Documentary "Breakthrough" and Q&A with Dr. Jim Allison | Monday, November 30

Jim Allison - Breakthrough presents a new kind of hero. Biotech students joined the Beta Beta Beta Biological Society and Uncommon Productions for a virtual screening of the award-winning documentary Jim Allison: Breakthrough followed by a Q&A with Dr. Jim Allison. Praised for its heartfelt and accessible storytelling of one warm-hearted scientist's quest to find a cure for cancer. Dr. Jim Allison, who waged a decades-long struggle to bring a novel cancer treatment to patients worldwide. Breakthrough paints a richly entertaining portrait of Allison, a native of south Texas and an avid blues harmonica player, whose creativity and boundless curiosity about the human immune system set him on a trail-blazing path to change the face of cancer treatment and 2018 winner of the Nobel Prize.

Recordingnew window

Scholarships

Paul Peck Biomanufacturing Scholarships

Grants of up to $500 per semester are available to work-eligible (US citizen or permanent resident) students who do not have a college degree and are pursuing a Biomanufacturing certificate. Students should fill out a FAFSA form and a Montgomery College Foundation Scholarship Application, being sure to mention that they meet the criteria and are interested in the Paul Peck Biomanufacturing Scholarship.

Biotechnology Scholarships

Grants are awarded each semester, and students must apply each semester they wish to be considered. These scholarships are available to any Biotechnology student. Some scholarships are restricted to work-eligible students; others are not. Preference is given to students who do not have a degree and students with demonstrated financial need, but all students are encouraged to apply. To be considered, students should fill out a FAFSA and a Montgomery College Foundation Scholarship Application, being sure to mention that they are Biotechnology students. It is helpful if the student mentions the courses s/he plans to register for the semester they wish to receive the grant.

Some of the Biotechnology Scholarships that may be available next semester are (other scholarships are sometimes available):
The GlaxoSmithKline Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Endowed Scholarshipnew window
MdBio Scholarshipnew window
The MedImmune Scholarship
The Evan and Catherine Jones Memorial Biotechnology Scholarship


FAFSA

Get more information on FAFSA. The MC code is 006911. Please contact Patricia Lopez at if you have specific questions regarding biotechnology scholarships.


Apply for Scholarships

With a valid M number, you can apply online for all MC Foundation scholarship opportunities by completing just one application. A new online tool matches your application with relevant foundation scholarship opportunities at Montgomery College. Be sure to mention you are a biotechnology student in order to be considered for biotech scholarships. Questions? Contact the Financial Aid Office.

AAUW Career Development Grantsnew window provide funding to women who hold a bachelor’s degree and are preparing to advance or change careers or re-enter the workforce. Primary consideration is given to women of color and women pursuing their first advanced degree or credentials in nontraditional fields.

Frequently Asked Questions

General

The following courses form the core of the biotechnology program:
BIOT 101 Introduction to Biotechnology 
BIOT 115 Instrumentation for the Biotechnology Laboratory
BIOT 117 Cell Culture and Cell Function
BIOT 200 Protein Biotechnology
BIOT 204 Immunology and Immunological Methods
BIOT 213 Nucleic Acid Analysis
BIOT 235  Principles of Biomanufacturing

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

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

Biotechnology Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

Fall 1
BIOL 107
CHEM 101
ENGL 101
MATH 101 or higher
Spring 1
BIOT 101
BIOL 203
CHEM 102 (elective)
ENGL

Summer
CHEM 203/ BIOT 204

Fall 2
BIOL 209
BIOT 117
BIOT 200
COMM 108
HLTH
Spring 2
CHEM 204 (elective)
MATH (elective) or CA 120
BIOT 213
ARTD/HUMD Distribution
Behavioral and Social Science Distribution

If you have taken college level chemistry and biology and you remember it - then all you need to take are the biotechnology courses:
Biotechnology: BIOT 101, BIOT 115, BIOT117, BIOT200, BIOT 204 and BIOT 213

The prerequisite for BIOT 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.

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:

Biotechnical Institutenew window (Baltimore, MD)

FAES Graduate Schoolnew window (NIH, Bethesda, MD)

The Institute for Genomic Researchnew window (Gaithersburg, MD)

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.

Biotechnology classes are offered only at the Germantown Campus of Montgomery College. BIOT 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/Silver Spring).

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.

Yes, as long as you have met the course prerequisites (have the proper science background) or obtain permission of the instructor or coordinator.
No, the lecture and lab must be taken together.
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.
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.

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:
AAS Degree: 4 semesters
Certificate: 2-3 semesters

If you do not have a college degree then you should consider obtaining the AAS degree. The AAS degree includes science courses and general education requirements. On completion of the AAS 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.  

Yes, by articulation. We currently have articulation agreements with:  Stevenson University, Towson State University, University of Maryland Shady Grove, Hood College, University of Maryland Global Campus, and Washington Adventist University. Get more information about transferring.

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.

I have a bachelor's (or master's) degree 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 BS or MS 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 bachelor's (or master's) 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.

Tuition, Fees, & Scholarships

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. More information about costs.

No, Montgomery College does no charge lab fees.

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

Careers and Continuing Education

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

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.

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

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 AAS in biotechnology transfer to these institutions allowing you to enter as a junior. The College is always interested in establishing additional agreements.

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.

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.

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 BS and MS degree but you can be promoted even with an AAS 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 (PhD or MD) is limited – however in many cases individual laboratories at these institutions encourage and support their lab technicians to complete the higher degree.

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

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.

International Students

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.

Find out more information on transcript evaluation.

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. 

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 a biotech coordinator, 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. 

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

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What People are Saying

I am truly grateful for the faculty that go above and beyond to help students. The MC biotech program is well designed with the students' future in mind and I am proud to say that I was there.

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Champa
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