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Traditional Admissions

Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Major

Also known as molecular genetics, biotechnology, microbiology, and bioengineering.

No matter what you call it, genetic engineering is changing the future of health, medicine and crime scene analysis. Many new developments in science and medicine are the result of new and ongoing work with recombinant DNA technology. DNA fingerprinting uses the techniques of genetic engineering; new pharmaceuticals are developed with biotechnology; and inroads into cures for cancer and other diseases are just some of the places genetic engineering will leave its mark.

Whether by cloning and over-expressing genes used for the treatment of disease, sequencing genes and studying their function, engineering plants to make them more resistant to disease, using microbiology to engineer bacteria and fungi to generate pharmaceuticals and biofuels, using stem cells to generate organs and treat disease, or using genetic markers to solve a crime, molecular biologists are making things happen. Cedar Crest College can show you how.

About Our Program

At Cedar Crest, we are proud to have one of the first genetic engineering programs in the country. Our program begins with a solid foundation in the breadth of biology, taking students from ecology to the amazing world of cellular biology. Our students build on this foundation through two years of intense upper-class coursework in molecular genetics and the applications of biotechnology.

Small courses with individualized attention from faculty help students gain extensive knowledge of the details of molecular biology and witness a glimpse into what graduate-level learning environments are like. Beginning their first year and in state-of-the-art laboratories with the latest technology, students apply knowledge they’ve gained in the classroom to molecular experiments that test their abilities and prepare them to work independently post-graduation. By the time students complete this program, they are prepared for:

  • Immediate employment in industrial or university labs as technical personnel
  • Advanced study at the master's or Ph.D. levels in graduate schools
  • Admission to professional schools of medicine, veterinary medicine, or dentistry

The genetic engineering major is offered through the department of biological sciences. In addition to helping our students develop a strong understanding of molecular genetics and how molecular biology impacts various other fields such as oncology, gene therapy, immunology, medical genetics, etc., all coursework and laboratories emphasize reading, questioning, analyzing, and evaluating assumptions along with development in technical writing and oral presentation skills.

Upper-class students are required to demonstrate their knowledge as part of the capstone experience, during which they conduct an independent research project in a professor's lab. At a minimum, students are required to develop their research proposal during their junior year, and spend at least two consecutive semesters, usually their entire senior year, conducting the research project. At the end of their senior year, students must present their research to the department in a seminar talk or a poster.

Customize Your Degree

In addition to the stimulating and challenging coursework within the genetic engineering major, you may choose an additional major or minor in order to explore your other interests and to make you more marketable to future employers. Many of our majors have taken a minor in chemistry or global diseases or added a concentration in our accredited forensic science program.

Alumnae Success Stories

Because of the firm foundation in science and research, Cedar Crest College's genetic engineering graduates possess specific skills that they can use in industry, yet they have a broad enough background to pursue graduate study in a variety of fields. Recent genetic engineering graduates have entered Ph.D. programs at many fine colleges and universities, including:

  • Cedar Crest College (Forensic Science)
  • Cornell University
  • Duke University
  • Hahnemann University Hospital (Graduate Medical Education)
  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Lehigh University
  • The Pennsylvania State University
  • Princeton University
  • Purdue University
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Colorado
  • University of New Hampshire (School of Law)

Other graduates of our program are working as breast cancer researchers, genetic counselors, forensic scientists, and other genetic engineering professionals, for such highly regarded companies as:

  • Genzyme Corporation
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Merck
  • Roche Biomedical Laboratories
  • Sanofi Pasteur

Program Mission Statement

The mission of the Genetic Engineering Program is to provide undergraduate women with an intensive, progressive, and balanced learning experience in cellular and molecular biology, emphasizing theory and laboratory skills. Students develop technical expertise that allows them to directly enter the workforce as laboratory technicians, supporting current research in fundamental biological phenomena as well as applied science fields. Alternatively, the leadership skills developed through independent and collaborative thinking, when combined with the solid background in molecular genetics, prepares students for graduate work in genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and other health-related disciplines. Regardless of their future direction, students are required to express their views effectively through written and oral communication, and engage in critical thinking activities that prepare all graduates for a lifetime of learning.

Thesis Requirements (Optional)

All students, particularly those who are interested in attending graduate school or obtaining a research-based job following graduation, are highly encouraged to participate in independent research, which may culminate in a thesis.

The thesis option begins during the student’s junior year, as part of Junior Colloquium (BIO 350). As part of their capstone project, all students who select a major from the department of biological sciences are required to develop a research proposal to investigate an original research question. This experience allows the students to go beyond the basic course information, select a problem that interests them, and apply what they have learned in their coursework to a novel situation.

As part of the thesis option, students will spend a minimum of two semesters working with a faculty member to conduct the research outlined in their proposal. They will then develop a written thesis detailing their project, and present their final project to the department in the form of a seminar talk or poster.

The title of a student’s thesis will appear on her transcript will appear on her transcript if she completes two semesters (4 credits) of Independent Research (BIO 353) and one semester (1 credit) of Senior Thesis and Presentation (BIO 354) with grades of C- or better.