BS/MS in Biotechnology

WPI's BS/MS combined degree in Biotechnology is a 5-year program that offers a strong base in both conceptual and technical knowledge. The flexibility of the program enables WPI students currently enrolled in Biology or a related life sciences major the ability to select skills-based courses and lab training to prepare for professional careers in the biotech industry, or alternatively to enhance their preparedness for medical school and PhD programs.

Students interested in the program should review the details below and direct any additional questions to the graduate program coordinator within the BBT Department.


BS/MS combined program description:

Students enrolled in the BS/MS program must satisfy all the program requirements for their BS degree, which could be in Biology and Biotechnology or another major, in addition to the requirements of the M.S. in Biotechnology. As part of the application process, and in consultation with the student’s major Academic Advisor and the Graduate Program Coordinator, the student will prepare a proposed Plan of Study outlining the selections made to satisfy the BS/MS degree requirements, including the courses that will be double-counted. This Plan of Study must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator after acceptance to the program. All courses must be at the 500 or 4000 level and no more than 9 credits may be at the 4000 level (MQP credits cannot be used toward the MS).


30 Credit requirements:

  • 24 credits within the Biology and Biotechnology Department, or related department per approval of the graduate committee. These credits must include a minimum of 9 credits of skills-based courses, as indicated in the graduate catalog.
  • 6 credits of BB-related or elective courses


Up to 9 graduate equivalent credits at the 4000-level courses can be used toward the 30 credit requirements, provided a grade of B or higher is earned.

A maximum of 6 credits of directed research (BB598) can count toward the skills-based course requirement. A student may not register for directed research credit (BB598) until after they have completed 1 full unit of MQP.

WPI expects graduate students to put in 56 hours of effort per one graduate-credit-hour earned. Thus, if a student is registering for BB598 during a seven-week term, the department will expect students to put in eight hours of research effort per week per credit-hour earned in BB598. (See page 14 of the 2021–22 graduate catalog).

The Biology and Biotechnology Department offers courses that are run on three different schedules: 7-week terms (A, B, C, and D term), 14-week semesters (fall corresponds with A+B terms, spring corresponds with C+D terms), and 10-week trimesters (which are primarily online delivery). BS/MS students are encouraged to explore courses in all these formats when planning their schedule and to reach out to their academic advisor or the graduate coordinator with questions.

Double counting

BS/MS students are able to double-count up to 9 of the 30 graduate credits required for the MS degree in Biotechnology towards both the BS and the MS in Biotechnology degree. The remaining 21 credits required for the MS in Biotechnology degree must be distinct from the credits required for the undergraduate degree.

For undergraduate students, the university registrar counts both 4xxx-level courses and 5xx-level courses at 1.5x the credit hours that would be earned if being counted toward a graduate degree. For example, a 3-credit (4000 level) undergraduate course is valued at 2 credits toward a graduate degree while a 3-credit (500-level) graduate course is valued at 4.5 credits toward an undergraduate degree. Since students in a combined BS/MS program have not yet earned an undergraduate degree, courses will remain listed on transcripts at the undergraduate level of effort even though courses applied toward the MS degree will be considered at the graduate equivalent value.


Example Schedule for a 5-year combined BS/MS:

  • 13 credits BB/BB-related courses
  • 8 credits 4000-level courses, double counted
  • 9 credits skills based 500-level courses (or 6 credits of BB598 + 3 credits skills-based 500-level course)
  • Total = 30 credits



Fall (A+B terms)

Spring (C+D terms)



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Application process:

Students interested in pursuing a combined BS/MS degree are expected to have a GPA of 3.5 or higher and should apply to the Department of Biology and Biotechnology as early as their third year and no later than the fall of their 4th year. Students who have recently graduated from WPI can also take advantage of the double counting credit option as described above however, pending course availability, may not be able to complete the degree in a single extra year. Students interested in returning for this degree are encouraged to discuss the feasibility and timeline with the graduate coordinator.

Recommendation letters do not need to be submitted with the application. Instead, the applicant’s personal statement should include the names of three WPI professors from whom the graduate committee may request such letters. Letter-writers should be WPI (or WPI-affiliated) professors who can speak positively toward the applicant's scholarship, work ethic, and ability to handle the rigors of a combined BS/MS degree.