Should I do biotechnology

Biotechnology Degree FAQ

Where can I best study biotechnology?

Such a question cannot be answered across the board. There is no such thing as ONE way into biotechnology, if only because the later work opportunities can be very different.

There are now more than 50 courses that can be directly assigned to biotechnology and offer very different content. However, many only have a very small quota of places per semester.

In order to be able to work in biotechnology later, however, one does not necessarily have to study biotechnology. A degree in biology, biochemistry or life science also offers a good basis, which is offered at most universities. It is much more important to know which direction or which focus in biotechnology you are interested in: for example, is it more medical research, the technical side or plant molecular biology. Based on their own interests, everyone should take a close look at the respective courses offered by the university and examine them accordingly.

Because: Not every degree program offers the same focus.

The online guide of the Association of Biology, Biosciences and Biomedicine (VBIO) in Germany provides an overview of all bioscientific courses:

Unfortunately, there is no ranking of biotechnology courses. In cooperation with the weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT, the Center for University Development (CHE) has determined a ranking for the courses in biology and biochemistry.

What is the difference between universities and technical colleges?

Generally speaking, studies at universities of applied sciences are more practice-oriented and usually more specifically geared towards a certain occupational profile. Often there is close cooperation with companies that offer students internship semesters or working student contracts. For biotechnology there is, for example, the Weihenstephan University of Applied Sciences (cooperation with Roche Diagnostics) or the Biberach University of Applied Sciences (cooperation with Boehringer Ingelheim).

Studying at university, however, is considered better preparation if you want to keep all career opportunities in biotechnology open for which a doctorate is a prerequisite. At the university, the orientation of the course is therefore usually more theoretical, but internships are also required here, which must be carried out during the course. It is easier to follow up on a university degree with a doctoral thesis.

Can I also work in biotechnology with a life science degree?

Whether life science, biotechnology, biology or biochemistry? The name of the course is irrelevant for the later career choice, the respective content that is conveyed is much more important (see question 1 "Where can I best study biotechnology"). Prospective students should therefore inform themselves precisely about the course of study (to be found on the university's website) and ask themselves: Do the study topics suit my interests? Where would I like to work later and does this area appear in my studies?

How long do I have to study biotechnology?

Since biotechnology is a very research-intensive industry, very well-trained employees are usually in demand. For students this means: As a rule, the bachelor's degree (3 years) and master's degree (2 years) are just the beginning. In order to keep all career prospects clear, a subsequent doctoral thesis (doctorate) is mandatory for many (research) positions. Until then, it can take up to seven years or more to spend at the university.

Life scientists don't necessarily have to work in the research department of a company or at universities. There are also a number of jobs in sales, marketing, as a patent expert or with management consultants. A doctorate is not always necessary for this. It is best to ask around at companies early on and, towards the end of your studies, visit industry fairs (e.g. BIOTECHNICA in Hanover) where future employers can introduce themselves.

What career opportunities are there in biotechnology?

With around 30,000 employees, the commercial biotech industry is very manageable in terms of its size. Nonetheless, biotechnology has been growing for a number of years, especially in the pharmaceutical industry. Is this the reason why specialists are constantly being sought here? For example, in Penzberg (Bavaria) or Biberach (Baden-W├╝rttemberg), the production sites of Roche Diagnostics and Boehringer Ingelheim, there is a regular high demand for new employees. Fanned by the increasing demand for biofuels and bioplastics, the need for biotechnologists is also increasing in the chemical industry. In the roughly 500 mostly small and medium-sized biotechnology companies, employees are of course also in demand. However, numerically fewer and mostly very highly qualified people with doctoral degrees are sought here.


In addition to companies, there is of course also the path to academic research. Those who can show good grades in their studies have a good basis for a subsequent doctorate - this is a must for a career in science. Good research results, which are published in high-ranking specialist journals, are then decisive. However, one should be aware that the majority of academic research works with temporary positions and only very few researchers end up being appointed professors.

Life scientists don't necessarily have to work in the research department of a company or at universities. There are also a number of jobs in sales, marketing, as a patent expert or with management consultants. A doctorate is not always necessary for this. It is best to ask other scientists or companies at an early stage. Industry trade fairs at which future employers can introduce themselves are also worthwhile shortly before graduation.

Where can I do an internship?

In principle, internships are possible in all companies that work in biotechnology. In the case of larger companies in the pharmaceutical or chemical industry, however, the chances are greater that such an offer will exist. There is NO complete list of companies offering internships. That means: everyone has to go looking for them and inquire with the companies. Sometimes interns are posted in job portals.

It is worth taking a look at, for example

What do companies in biotechnology deal with?

Biotechnology is a widely used cross-sectional technology. It can be used to develop new drugs, breed new types of plants or use technical enzymes to produce everyday products such as detergents and cosmetics more efficiently. The activities of the companies are correspondingly diverse.


To differentiate between these different areas of activity, a color theory has emerged: a distinction is made between red, green and white biotechnology, which relates to the fields of medicine (red), agriculture (green) and industry (white). With regard to around 500 German biotechnology companies, there is a clear focus on medicine. This is also proven by the biotechnologie.deannual company survey. According to this, 216 companies (44%) are currently developing new drugs or diagnostic tests. An almost as large proportion of companies (196) are not active in any specific field, but for several user industries. This includes companies that exclusively or predominantly provide (laboratory / test / production) services for other biotech companies or act as suppliers for them.

Biotechnological student initiative

Would you like to study biotechnology or find out more about starting a career after graduation? The Biotechnological Student Initiative (btS) helps.