MBP From a Student Perspective

The Master of Biotechnology program's (MBP) admitted student virtual open house featured current students talking about their experiences in MBP and why the program was the right choice for them.

In Northwestern Engineering’s Master of Biotechnology Program (MBP), students experience the depth and breadth of all that can be done with a biotechnology degree.  

From working in labs to studying the latest industry trends, the curriculum helps students see first-hand how advances in technology can impact global health. The mix of technical and non-technical courses exposes students to the wide array of opportunities in the field, including management classes for those who want to be business leaders and analytics classes for students interested in examining statistics. The all-around curriculum gives graduates a well-rounded education and a leg-up on the competition.

This spring, MBP hosted a virtual open house for admitted students. One of the most valuable sessions was a free-flowing conversation with current students, who shared their own experiences in the program and why they thought MBP was the right fit for them.  

Here are three takeaways from the conversation.

1. Small classes give students room to grow

MBP is not like many large undergraduate programs or majors where hundreds of students are in a classroom together. The expected class size ranges from 30-40 people, making it possible for students to form deep bonds with their classmates during their time with the program.

That number includes a diverse student body from varied backgrounds and geographies. Nearly half of incoming MBP students majored in something other than biotechnology or biology, such as chemical engineering, psychology, chemistry, and even pre-med. The student body also hails from all over the world, meaning that global perspectives are represented in classroom discussions.

“One thing I really liked about this program was the size,” said Evelyn Cheng, a first-year student who also serves as Alumni and Relationships Chair of MBP's Association of Biotechnology Students (ABS). “In my undergrad, one class had about 100 people and it was tough to make friends. But here, the class size is 40 people and you’ll work on a lot of group projects with five or six people in each group. It’s really fun to build a great bond and strong friendships with the people you work with.”

2. Internships let students put classroom education to use

MBP students are encouraged to enroll in an internship or co-op once they have completed three academic quarters of the program. These internships are spread across the country — and some even around the world — and give students the chance to practice what they've learned in the classroom while continuing to develop their skills in new environments.

The timing of the internship allows students to be best prepared to make a positive impact on the business they are working for. 

“I liked that I could take elective courses to help me be more prepared for my internship,” said Marissa Udine (MBP '22), the ABS Social Chair who accepted a co-op position at BioGen, a biotech company near Boston that focuses on defeating devastating neurological diseases. “I was going into an antibody engineering lab and I was able to take elective courses that would help me feel more prepared going in. Just to be able to have the six months to do the internship and then have time to do full-time research here is also really nice.”

3. MBP provides added career support for students

In addition to internship opportunities, MBP offers a Career and Development course that helps students learn how to effectively network and develop best strategies for applying for jobs. MBP also holds info sessions from major companies in the biotechnology space and organizes site visits to a collection of companies in one of the country's major biotech markets such as Boston or San Francisco.  

MBP alumni are eager to help the next generation of students in the program, as are the two mentors each first-year student receives. These mentors are faculty members and second-year students, and their goal is to help get first-years acquainted to MBP and thinking about how to best use their time and the opportunities available in the program

“It’s nice to be able to check in with a professor to help you take classes that align with what you want to do,” Udine said. “Second-years were helpful by sharing industry experience and what they did to be successful.”

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