Molecular biologist education focuses on the study of cells, primarily DNA. The type of college degree one earns can largely determine his or her job duties. That is because a PhD is usually required in order to perform research in this industry, while a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree can help secure a position in a laboratory.

High School Courses

While in high school, those who wish to become molecular biologists should take as many science courses as possible, particularly ones that require extensive lab work. Advanced courses in mathematics including calculus and trigonometry should also be considered. Those who have an interest in studying abroad may want to take a foreign language. Other classes that could be helpful include public speaking and English composition. Since college course work is extremely challenging, students should maintain as close to a 4.0 grade point average as possible. That way, they can be well prepared for the rigorous academic studies that are ahead of them.

Four-Year Microbiology Degree

While pursuing a Bachelor’s degree, students will likely be required to take courses such as physics, laboratory procedures and genetics. Courses that are designed to improve critical thinking skills might also be mandatory, and some of these classes could include philosophy and debate. Opportunities to study abroad are normally available during one’s junior year, while an internship could be mandatory during a senior year. The annual cost of tuition and fees ranges from $6,000 to $17,324, and books can cost around $600 more each year. Room and board could run an additional $8,000 to $10,000 each year as well.

Microbiology Graduate Degree

While earning a Master’s degree in molecular biology, students will take courses such as microscopy, microbial genetics,cell biology and cell physiology. It can take between two and three years to earn a Master’s degree after one obtains a Bachelor of Science. It can cost between $1,587 and $3,174 per semester for tuition and fees. Books can cost an additional $400 to $600 per semester. Most graduate degree candidates live off campus and are responsible for their own housing, food and medical expenses. Clinical rotations are often time-intensive and make it difficult for students to hold down employment while pursuing their studies.

Earning a PhD

A doctorate in molecular biology takes between four and six years to complete. A Master’s degree is not required in order to obtain a PhD in microbiology, but can nonetheless allow students to graduate sooner than they would have otherwise. Immunology, pathology and molecular genetics are among some of the courses that could be required. The cost of this degree can range from $7,100 to $16,950 per year for tuition along with an additional $1,000 to $2,000 for books and related fees. Hands-on molecular biologist training in the way of formal research and a dissertation are normally required in order to complete one of these programs.
Even after earning a doctorate degree, many molecular biologists find they never stop learning new things. Constantly updating one’s skills by attending continuing educational seminars will likely be a life-long endeavor for those who enter this career field.