Student Handbook

M.A. Biotechnology
Current Students
Lab Requirement
Academic Standards
Thesis Guidelines


In Brief 

2 Residence Units

9 Points in 3 required courses

15 points in elective courses

6 points in laboratories


All requirements must be met independently 

Back to Top 


Residence Unit Requirement

2 Residence Units (RU) are required for the degree. Students can register for 1/4, 1/2, or 1 RU for each semester. 

RU's determine the amount of tuition you pay and how many courses you can take each semester. It is independent of academic requirements and is unrelated to housing.

  • 1 RU: Full time. As many or as few courses as you wish
  • 1/2 RU: Part time. 3 or fewer courses
  • 1/4 RU: Part time. 2 or fewer courses

Q: Can I register for just 3 courses under 1 RU? 

A: Yes. 

Q: Is there time limit to complete this 2RU requirement? 

A: 2 years full time, 4 years part time. You must be continuously registered. 

Q: What if I completed 30 points but have only 1 1/2 RU? 

A: You still need to register for another 1/2 RU. You can pay the money and don't take any class. But why not get some education while you are at it? Take another Advanced Seminar in Post Genomic Glycoproteomics or that Art History class you have always wanted to take. 

Q: What if I completed 2 RU's but have not completed the academic requirements? 

A: If you have more points to go, register for 1/2 or 1/4 RU. For those entered before 2013, extended RU is another option. Extended RU can only be used after you have completed 2 RU. It allows you to take as many classes as you need but costs less than 1 RU. 

Back to Top 

Academic Requirements 

  1. 9 points from three required courses: 
    • GU4303 Biotechnology
    • GU4300 Drugs and Disease
    • GU4305 Seminar in Biotechnology
  2. 15 points from elective courses. A list of pre-approved courses is posted on the program web site. 
    • All electives must be 4000 level or above to count toward degree requirement.
    • Up to three courses can be non-biology, such as law, business, or policies.
    • Biology courses can be offered by the Department of Biological Sciences and other Morningside and Health Sciences campus departments. Check with the program office if you are not sure whether a particular class is biology or non-biology.
    • For any courses not listed as pre-approved, check with the program office first. Be prepared to justify why it is relevant to Biotechnology. 
  3. 6 points in laboratories. This can be either: 
    • S4515 Intensive Laboratory in Biotechnology (Fee applies), or
    • G4500, G4501, S4502, S4503 Supervised Research. (Fee applies for S4502 and S4503)
    • More on this

N.B.  No course taken for P/F or R credit may be counted towards the Academic Requirements of the program. 


Q: I have taken two graduate level courses. Can I transfer those credits? 

A: We do not accept transfer credits from other institutions. The only transfer credits allowed are those from Columbia University School of Continuing Education taken by non-degreed students. Up to two biology courses from the "pre-approved list" with a grade of B or above may be considered for transfer. Credit transfer is not automatic. If you have credits to be considered, send an e-mail request to the program office with the course title and term taken. You should do this at the beginning of your program.

Q: How can I obtain academic advising?

A: Program approval (from [email protected]) for course selections must be obtained prior to registration for each semester.  Additional academic advising is available upon request. 

Q: I am almost done with all my requirements.  What do I do to get my degree?

A: Degrees are conferred three times a year:  February, May, and October.  See Academic Calendar or Thesis Deadlines for exact dates.  Fill out and send a Degree Application Form to the program office at 744A Mudd.  Do not send the form to the department office or the registrar.  Deadline for sending the application form is August 1 for October degree, November 1 for February degree, and December 1 for May degree.  If you are late for the application, you can still get your degree on time.  However, you may have to wait to get your diploma.  Applying for degree does not guarantee or obligate you to graduate.

Q: When and how do I get my diploma?

A: If you apply for graduation on time, you can pick up the diploma from the registrar the day after degree conferral date.  After that, the diploma will be mailed to the address indicated on the Degree Application Form. 

Q: When and how do I participate in the commencement?

A:  There is only one commencement per year, in May.  October and February degree holders participate in the commencement of the May after their degrees.  You will receive information regarding events, tickets and academic regalia from GSAS.  GSAS usually holds a separate and more intimate MA Convocation a day before the commencement.  MA program has its own reception for the graduates and their guests. 

Back to Top 

Business Office

Department of Biological Sciences
500 Fairchild Center
Mail Code 2401
Columbia University
1212 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027

Academic Office

Department of Biological Sciences
600 Fairchild Center
Mail Code 2402
Columbia University
1212 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027
[email protected]
212 854-4581