Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the admissions deadline for the MA in Biotechnology Program?

A: March 1st of each year

Q: Will my application still be considered if it is submitted after the deadline?

A: Your application will be considered if it is submitted a day or two after the deadline; however, keep in mind that there are a limited number of admissions openings, around 25-30, so the later you submit your application the less your chances are that there will be an opening available for you. If you mean to submit your application more than a few days after the deadline of March 1, please obtain permission from [email protected]

Q: Are GRE scores required for the MA in Biotechnology?

A: Yes

Q: Can I apply for the spring term?

A: No.


Q: What address should I send my application materials to?

A: Please do NOT send any material to the department or the program office. The materials must go to: 

Office of Admissions 
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 
Columbia University 
108 Low Library 
535 W. 116th Street, MC 4303 
NY, NY 10027

Q: I have not had 4 biology courses. Can I still apply and then take the classes once I am in the program?

A: No, you must take the classes before entering the program. The Admissions Committee needs to see the grades in these courses in order to make an informed decision on whether you are prepared for our Program.

Q: I do not have a biology undergraduate degree, and I understand that you must take at least 4 biology courses before applying. What specific classes would you recommend I take to prepare me for the program

A: Introductory Biology, Molecular Biology, and Genetics are the most important ones. Additionally, Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Neurobiology, Immunology, and Developmental Biology are all good. Any one-semester course of “Cell and Molecular Genetics" most likely qualifies as an introductory course.

Q: Is it possible to apply to the program WHILE enrolled in one of these courses?

A: No, we need to see your grade in the class in order to make an admissions decision.

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

A: No. We do not accept transfer credits from other institutions.

Q: Are TOEFL scores required?

A: Yes. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is also required for international applicants whose native language is not English. The minimum score TOEFL required by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences is 250 (CBT) or 600 (PBT) or 100 (IBT).

Q: What is your institution and department code for TOEFL score reporting?

A: The institution code is 2162. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences does not use department codes, as all test scores are reported to the Office of Admissions. Scores are then forwarded to this department. If ETS requires the designation of a department code, please use a default code of all nines (9) or all zeroes (0)

Q: Can I submit TOEFL scores I took several years ago?

A: TOEFL scores can be no more than 2 years old.

Q: How many total students do you admit each year?

A: 25-30 students

Q: Has the program been approved by the State of New York?

A: Yes, the program was approved in Fall 2000

Q: Can you enroll for the MA in Biotechnology on a part-time basis?

A: Yes.

Q: How long will the program take to complete?

A: The program can be completed by full-time students in 1 year including the summer semester or at a reduced pace by part-time students. There are 8 courses and a summer lab so at 2 courses a semester it would take about 2 1/2 years.

Q: If I graduate from this program, can I go on to the Ph.D. in Biological Sciences and will any of my courses count toward the Ph.D. course requirements?

A: You would need to apply and be accepted to the Ph.D. program since it is a separate program with its own admissions and academic requirements. Students who enter the Ph.D. program with a Master's degree are typically allowed to waive at least one of the 3 elective courses required for the Ph.D. degree.

Q: Is housing provided by the University?

A: Although we encourage you to apply for University Housing, we cannot guarantee that you will receive. The University provides assistance to students in finding non-Columbia owned housing through the Off Campus Housing Office

Q: I would like to know if my degree is the equivalent of an American university BA or BS degree. Can you tell me if I can be admitted with my current degree?

A: Please contact the GSAS Admissions Office.

Q: Are there fellowships or scholarships available for the MA in Biotechnology Program?

A: The Department does not offer fellowships, scholarships, or teaching assistantships for the program. Please contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.

Q: Why is this an MA degree rather than an MS degree? I'm afraid that an MA program is not scientifically rigorous.

A: At Columbia University, all Master’s degrees conferred by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are MA. (School of Engineering and Applied Science confers MS degrees.) The rigorousness of scientific training is not affected by its name. Our program requires 8 graduate level courses, at least 6 of which in the biological sciences. All students must receive laboratory training and present a thesis.