Biology or BioXXX Engineering

My S23 is interested in biotechnology. As he begins to consider college admissions there’s a huge difference in our approach if he’s looking for Biology and Biology variants as a major versus BioEngineering or similar. Which is the right path for the biotech industries? He says (now, at the age of 16) that he is more interested in getting an MBA that a Ph.D. or STEM masters degree. I can see that-- he’s got good business and financial sensibilities.

He will have the stats to get into a good engineering school somewhere but it is not clear to me if he’s suited for that. He likes exploring other subjects like History and Latin. My own experience with Engineering school is that there’s little time for such things. And although he’s intelligent and wants to succeed he’s not a kid who spends all his time studying and he values down time.

So, is it viable to get into biotech without an engineering degree? If so, what type of biology is most important to focus on?

Thanks for any advice-- this is a field I know little about.

Yes, it is viable to get into biotech without an engineering degree. But typically, lead/supervisor scientists in biotech have a Masters/PhD.

If your son chooses to be a biology major, I’m not sure if there is a “better biology,” since biotech usually needs a grad degree.

But I would personally recommend these two majors:

-Chemistry. Chemistry majors tend to have better job prospects compared to biology majors (doesn’t mean biology is bad though!), and majoring in chemistry would allow for a career in pharmaceuticals, which is closely related to biotech. Chemistry tends to have more math and physics than a biology degree (since Chemistry is a physical science), and while it’s not engineering, it typically gets closer to engineering than biology.

Or…Biochemistry! Biochemistry can give flexibility to get into both chemistry careers and biology careers. I personally think your kid would benefit the most with a biochemistry degree- getting a mix of both subjects (although biochem is closer to chemistry than biology), and would allow for a career without the need for grad school.

Both of these majors offer a good amount of hard science, but both of these majors are technically in the liberal arts, allowing for a pursuit of other subjects of interest.

I am not fully sure about this, but I would think that both of these majors will offer a suitable level of preparation for both an MBA or a STEM Masters/PhD.

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Totally out of the blue, but I just remembered another potential major- Biophysics!

Biophysics is the study of “physical phenomena and physical processes in living things, on scales spanning molecules, cells, tissues and organisms. Biophysicists use the principles and methods of physics to understand biological systems.” -Nature Magazine

Once again, this major is in the liberal arts, allowing for a pursuit of other subjects of interest.

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