Program of Study
The Biotechnology major is housed in the Biological Sciences Department. Biotechnology refers to the long practiced skill of applying our knowledge of the molecular basis of life processes for the benefit of society. While classic examples of biotechnology include using bacteria and enzymes to produce cheeses and using yeast to make bread and beer, modern applications exploit DNA-based technologies such as immunology, biochemistry, and microbiology to make new products or provide services to improve health care, agriculture, food, and the environment. Over the past 30 years, biotechnology has caused a profound revolution in science and has had significant technological and social implications.
Today, pharmaceuticals and vaccines are being designed through biotechnology to treat various cancers, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, obesity, and other conditions. Biotechnology is responsible for hundreds of medical diagnostic tests that keep the blood supply safe from the AIDS virus and detect other conditions early enough to be successfully treated. Home pregnancy tests are also biotechnology diagnostic products. Food and agriculture biotechnology has resulted in the development of crops that are naturally resistant to pests and viruses; more tolerant of environmental stresses such as drought, salinity, and extreme cold; and more nutritious and longer lasting than their conventional counterparts. Environmental biotechnology products make it possible to more efficiently clean up hazardous waste without the use of caustic chemicals.
Bioremediation products use living cells or byproducts of living materials to clean up oil spills and other environmental problems. DNA fingerprinting is a biotech process that has dramatically improved criminal investigation and forensic medicine, and has afforded significant advances in anthropology and wildlife management. Biotechnology is a promising young field that is expected to be one of the pivotal forces in the 21st century, helping us to lead longer, healthier lives, provide more plentiful and nutritious food, and keep our environment cleaner.
The Biotechnology curriculum comprises courses selected from the curricula of the departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and the College of Business Administration. The core curriculum provides students with a solid foundation in molecular biosciences and biochemistry. It also introduces students to the applied technologies of fields such as molecular genetics/recombinant DNA technology, immunology/cell culture-hybridoma technology, biochemistry/protein purification methods, and DNA sequencing/computational biology.
Students are also exposed to fundamental business management and marketing theory as part of the core, and will develop skills and aptitudes important for success in the business arena. These include written and oral communication, problem solving, teamwork, leadership, flexibility, negotiation, and regulatory documentation. Since biotechnology-related industries are varied, the degree provides technical background and experience that can be applied across the diverse disciplines within the field, enabling students to adapt to their employment situation as it evolves or to move between the various biotechnology-related industries. The curriculum is meant to provide graduates with the knowledge and training needed to earn entry-level positions not only in research and development, but also in areas such as technical services, sales, marketing, management, operations, regulatory affairs, technical writing, quality control, and quality assurance.
Students in the Biotechnology degree program will have access to modern well-equipped laboratories and will gain experience using state-of-the-art instrumentation. The academic environment is enriched by a close faculty/student interaction and by the possibility of internship positions with biotechnology companies and federal agencies. Internship employment with a biotechnology company provides a valuable, real world, career-sampling experience. Student and faculty research opportunities are also available in faculty laboratories and provide valuable training that will enable students to gain rewarding employment thereafter.
A Bachelor of Science degree in Biotechnology from CSU San Marcos prepares students to succeed in entry-level positions in a number of market sectors, including pharmaceuticals, clinical diagnostics, environmental protection, food and agriculture, medical therapeutics, scientific services, and scientific equipment and supplies. The degree will also enable graduates to pursue higher degrees in areas as diverse as Biochemistry, Microbiology, Pharmacology, Environmental Science, Molecular Biology, and Plant Science.
Special Conditions for the Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology
All courses counted toward the major, including Preparation for the Major courses, must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better. A minimum of eighteen (18) units in biotechnology must be completed at CSUSM.
Biotechnology majors are permitted to earn the Minor in Biology. Biotechnology majors also pursuing the Minor in Biology may use either BIOL 352 - Genetics or BIOL 353 - Comparative Animal Physiology , but not both, to fulfill part of the 7 elective units required for the Biotechnology degree requirement. These students must also take 12 additional units in Biology, exclusive of coursework applied to the Major, in order to earn the Minor. Departmental advisors will provide information on recommended additional coursework.