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Top Biotechnology Colleges in Canada

Shishant Kumar Shishant Kumar
Study Abroad Expert

Biotechnology from Canada is a lucrative option for study abroad aspirants interested in the subject. Apart from offering nearly a hundred programs in Biotechnology & related subjects at world-class universities, Canada has more than 500 core biotechnology companies spread across the country. Canadian Scientists are known to have performed groundbreaking research in the field, from the discovery of insulin to sequencing the genome of the corona virus implicated in SARS, Canada has established itself as a prominent contributor to the world of Biotechnology.

Before delving into the details of pursuing Biotechnology from Canada, let us quickly take a look at what Biotechnology basically is. Although there is no universally accepted definition of the term, Statistics Canada defines it as: “The application of science and technology to living organisms as well as parts, products and models thereof, to alter living or non-living materials for the production of knowledge, goods and services.” Also known as modern biology, life sciences, bioengineering, and genomics, Biotechnology plays a key role in several industries such as medicine and health, agriculture, food processing, etc.

Globally Ranked Colleges in Canada for Biotechnology

Given below is a list of Canadian universities and colleges that have been ranked worldwide for life sciences and medicine by QS, “World Ranking by Subject” in 2020.

University/CollegeSubject RankingBiotechnology Programs
University of Toronto131 bachelor's degrees; 1 masters degree
McGill University273 bachelors degrees in related fields; 1 applied master's degree
University of British Columbia281 bachelor's degree; Several masters and doctoral degrees in related fields
McMaster University523 bachelors degrees; Several masters and doctoral degrees in related fields
University of Alberta901 masters and 1 doctoral degree in life biological sciences

Biotechnology in Canada: Specializations & Degree Types

Biotechnology programs in Canada are offered as a bachelor’s degree, graduate diploma, masters degree, and doctoral degree. According to a survey conducted in 2018 by BIOTECanada, 88% of companies in the Biotech industry possessed employees with a PhD, followed by more than 75% of employees holding a bachelors or a masters degree. Hence, if one is sure about pursuing a career in a biotechnology-related industry, going for higher education in the field is recommended.

There are various specializations of Biotechnology being offered in Canada. Some of them include:

  • Cellular and Molecular biotechnology
  • Medical biotechnology
  • Food biotechnology
  • Agricultural biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biochemistry

Biotechnology in Canada is available in following degree types:

  • Undergraduate- Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science with Honors, Bachelor of Engineering, Bachelor of Technology, Advanced Diploma
  • Graduate- Master of Science, Master of Applied Science, Graduate Diploma, Management of Technology MBA
  • Doctoral- Doctor of Philosophy

Biotechnology Courses

Biotechnology is an interdisciplinary field of study. Its programs bring together science and technology involving the research and development of various living organisms. Courses in Biotechnology cover various science subjects such as microbiology, genetic engineering, pharmacology, chemistry, and virology. Course subjects may include but aren’t limited to:

  • Cell Biology
  • Microbiology/Applied Microbiology
  • Genetics
  • Bioinformatics
  • Pharmacology
  • Biochemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry

Undergraduate Biotechnology Programs in Canada

Undergraduate degrees in Biotechnology are available to candidates with a science background. Most institutes require students to study Biology, Mathematics, Chemistry, and English in their grade 12 to be eligible for entry into undergraduate biotechnology programs.

Various undergraduate degrees are available to students wishing to study Biotechnology. Duration for the entire degree program is 4-5 years for a Bachelor of Science(B.Sc.) Degree. For undergraduate diploma, the duration is 2-3 years.

Some popular undergraduate Biotechnology programs being offered in Canada are tabulated below:

ProgramUniversityDurationAnnual Fees (CAD)
BSc BiotechnologyYork University4 yrs$29,496
BSc BiotechnologyBrock University4 yrsNA
Diploma in BiotechnologyHumber College2 yrs$15,874
Ontario College Advanced Diploma in Food-Science TechnologyCentennial College2 yrs$17,261
Bsc Agricultural BiotechnologyLethbridge University4 yrs$17,526

Admission Requirements

Candidates applying for undergraduate biotechnology programs in Canada need to fulfill some basic eligibility requirements. Given below are broad requirements for admission that may or may not apply to all cases:

  • Successful completion of Grade 12 with an aggregate of 60%
  • Must have a science background (studied biology, chemistry, math, and physics)
  • Proof of English Language Proficiency (IELTS- 6 or above; TOEFL iBT- 85)

Minimum eligibility may be higher for certain universities.

Fees and Funding

Average annual cost to pursue an undergraduate biotechnology program in Canada ranges from $15,000-$25,000 CAD depending on the choice of college and program.

Scholarships are available at some of the institutes but not all

Graduate Biotechnology Programs in Canada

Biotechnology programs at the graduate level are available as masters degrees, graduate certificate, and graduate diplomas in Canada. Prerequisites for admission include holding a bachelor's degree in biotechnology or a related program. Most of the graduate level programs in Biotechnology have a duration of 2 years. 

Students have the option to choose a program with thesis (research) or a non-thesis masters program. Biotechnology is available as both Master of Science (M.Sc.) and Master of Applied Science (M.ASc.) degree across various higher study institutes in Canada.

Some popular Biotechnology programs offered at the graduate level in Canada are tabulated below:

ProgramUniversityAdmission RequirementAnnual Fees (CAD)Duration
Master of Biotechnology (MBiotech)University of TorontoUG degree in related field with B average grade; GRE scores; CV; 3 LOR’s$47,1102 yrs
MSc (Applied) BiotechnologyMcGill UniversityUG CGPA 3.2/4.0; GRE (optional); CV; LOR; Personal Statement$11,1402 yrs
MSc Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of Saskatchewan4 year bachelor's degree in related field with 70%;CV; Letter of Intent$6,7302 yrs
Master of Biomedical Technology (MBT)University of CalgaryBSc in Biological Sciences with 3.3 GPA in last 2 yrs; CV; Vision Statement; 2 Reference Letters$24,5381 yr
Msc Agricultural BiotechnologyUniversity of LethbridgeUG degree in related discipline with 3.0 GPA; CV; Letter of intent; 3 Reference Letters$20,1062 yrs

Admission Requirements

Candidates applying for admission to masters in biotechnology in Canada have to meet certain basic eligibility requirements that are mentioned below:

  • A 4-year UG degree in Biotechnology or a related field with first class division (GPA 3.0 or above on a scale of 4.0)
  • GRE Test Scores (Not mandatory)
  • Proof of English Language Proficiency (IELTS- 6.5/TOEFL-86)

Apart from the aforementioned academic eligibility, candidates also have to submit necessary documents along with their application for admission. List of required documents include:

  • Official Academic Transcripts
  • Academic Reference Letters (2-3)
  • Current CV/Resume
  • Letter of intent
  • English Language Test Scores
  • Application Fee (varying)

Minimum eligibility requirements may vary depending on the university one is applying to. For instance, the University of Caligary requires an undergraduate GPA of 3.3 on a scale of 4 and has higher English language requirements (IELTS- 7.5; TOEFL iBT- 105) for prospective Master of Biomedical Technology (MBT) applicants. On the other hand, the University of Lethbridge has a minimum eligibility that requires prospective applicants to have a UG GPA of 3.0, and comparatively lower English language proficiency scores (IELTS- 6.5; TOEFL iBT- 86).

Candidates should keep in mind that just meeting the minimum eligibility criteria does not guarantee admission to the desired program. 

Most research-based graduate programs in Biotechnology in Canada require students to have a supervisor/mentor from the faculty they are applying to. Prospective applicants should check the department’s official website to know the details about contacting and finding a supervisor.

Fees and Funding

Average tuition fees for masters level Biotechnology programs in Canada is $20,000-$25,000 CAD per year. Cost of living in Canada varies with location and type of accommodation. However, an average student spends nearly $20,000 CAD per year on rent, food, transport, and other necessities. 

Doctoral Biotechnology Programs in Canada

Doctoral programs in Biotechnology and related specializations are offered by around 20 Canadian Universities. A PhD in Biotechnology is generally 3-5 years long program involving extensive research and a thesis paper. Acceptance into a PhD program requires agreement from a supervisor/mentor from the respective faculty of the desired university. PhD applicants of Biotechnology should reach out to a potential supervisor before applying for admission.

General eligibility for admission requires candidates to hold a masters degree in Biotechnology or related fields. Students are required to choose an area of focus and align their research & coursework with their career aspirations.

Some of the doctorate level Biotechnology programs offered in Canada are tabulated below:

ProgramUniversitySpecializationsAnnual Fees (CAD)
PhD BiotechnologyBrock UniversityChemical Biotechnology; Gene Biotechnology$15,670
PhD BiotechnologyLakehead UniversityMedical Biotechnology; Environmental Biotechnology$13,122
PhD in Microbiology & ImmunologyUniversity of British ColumbiaMicrobiology & Immunology$8,952
PhD in Genome Science & TechnologyUniversity of British ColumbiaGenome Science & Technology$8,952
PhD in Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of SaskatchewanNA$6,730

Admission Requirements

Ideally, PhD programs of Biotechnology in Canada require students to have a masters degree with competitive grades (70% or B-) in a related field of study(science or engineering). Additionally, candidates applying for admission should demonstrate inquisitiveness and interest in a particular research field. Some PhD programs are also available to students with a 4-year bachelors (hons) degree in a related field and exceptional academic performance. One such example is the PhD in Biomedical Engineering (direct-entry) offered by the University of Saskatchewan

General Admission Requirements for PhD in Biotechnology and related fields of study are outlined below:

  • Relevant masters degree with a grade average of B- or above
  • 3 letters of references
  • Official Transcripts
  • Statement of Purpose outlining research interests
  • Recent CV/Resume
  • GRE scores (recommended)
  • Proof of English Language Proficiency (IELTS- 6.5; TOEFL: 86)
  • Application Fee ($100-$150)

Fees and Funding

The average tuition fee for doctoral programs in biotechnology in Canada is $15,000 CAD per year. However, doctoral students have access to more funding opportunities when compared with bachelors and masters degree students. Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistantships are available to both domestic as well as international students in Canada.

Many Doctoral level programs in Canada provide funds to their students. For instance, the University of British Columbia’s PhD candidates who have been selected by a faculty and granted admission to PhD in Genome Science & Technology will receive a minimum funding of $24,300 CAD per year. Similarly, candidates selected to the PhD in Biomedical Engineering at UBC will get a minimum of $18,000 CAD per year as funding. 

Scholarships to Study Biotechnology in Canada

As an international student, it is always a good idea to look for sources of funding and scholarships in your home country. Relying too much on funding opportunities available at the desired destination may hamper your academic performance because of financial shortcoming. Although international students in Canada can avail a range of scholarships, it can be hard to find funding opportunities for a specific program at a specific university.

Compiled below is a list of popular scholarships that international students pursuing Biotechnology programs in Canada can access.

Scholarship NameOffered ToAward Amount
Ontario Graduate ScholarshipMasters and Doctoral Candidates$5000 per semester
Vanier Doctoral ScholarshipsDoctoral Students$50,000 per year for upto 3 years
International Tuition ScholarshipUniversity of Lethbridge full-time MA/MSc or PhD programs$17,000 (MSc); $34,000 (PhD)
School of Graduate Studies FellowshipUniversity of Lethbridge full-time MA/MSc or PhD programs$15,000 for a year; Can be renewed for an extra year in PhD
Merck Graduate Scholarship in Biosciences and BiotechnologyMBiotech incoming students at University of Toronto$2,000-$3,000
Brock Scholars AwardUG first year students$4,000-$16,000 depending on academic merit
International Doctoral FellowshipUBC doctoral students with excellent academic performance$30,000 stipend+tuition fee(for 4 years); $18,000 funding package in 5th year
Killam Doctoral FellowshipUBC doctoral students who have completed 2 yrs of study$30,000 annual stipend(2 yrs); plus $2,000 travel allowance;

The list of scholarships above is not all-inclusive and includes only a handful of funding possibilities that students pursuing Biotechnology in Canada can avail. Students are suggested to thoroughly check the official page of their desired program and university to browse all possible scholarships and funding opportunities.

Scope of Pursuing Biotechnology in Canada: Jobs & Salaries

The Canadian government invests billions of dollars in academic research in life sciences. While Biotechnology in the USA is considered the global leader in the field, Canada is not far behind and perceives Biotech as a key asset for economic growth. 

Life science and Biotechnology are one of the fastest growing industries in Canada. The application of biotechnology and related sciences can be seen in various sub-sectors such as healthcare, R&D services,medicine/pharmacy, food processing, agriculture, diagnostics, etc.

A 33% of lack in skilled employees has been reported by various biotechnology companies in Canada. With the industry seeking more and more skilled resources in companies, the scope of pursuing biotechnology is immense, especially if one chooses to go beyond a bachelor’s degree.

Given below is a list of career areas that graduates, post-graduates, and PhD holders in biotechnology and related subjects can access in Canada.

  • Medicine
  • Nursing
  • Dentistry
  • Physiotherapy
  • Veterinarian
  • Forensic Science
  • Research Assistant
  • Law (environmental law, patent law, etc.)
  • Government
  • Food Industry
  • Pharmaceutical Industry
  • Environmental Management
  • Teaching

Some prominent job positions held by people with an educational background in biotechnology include:

DesignationAnnual Salary Range (CAD)
Research Scientists$56,000-$140,000
Biotech Analyst$51,000-$72,000
Aquatic Science Biologist$61,000-$98,000
Organic Chemist$45,000-$65,000
Biotechnology Technician$38,000-$55,000
Research Assistant$47,000-$63,000
Research Associate$51,000-$68,000
Medical Advisor$68,000-$100,000

Primary industrial sectors of Biotechnology in Canada include: Human Health, Agriculture, Food Processing, and Environment. Nearly 50% of the Biotech related industries in Canada come under the Human Health sector. According to ConferenceBoard Canada, the country’s performance is best in Environment-related Biotechnology and Food Processing. However, with the government investing more and more in research and academics related to Biotechnology, other industry sectors are catching up with world leaders such as the US, and the UK. 

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