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.
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/College||Subject Ranking||Biotechnology Programs|
|University of Toronto||13||1 bachelor's degrees; 1 masters degree|
|McGill University||27||3 bachelors degrees in related fields; 1 applied master's degree|
|University of British Columbia||28||1 bachelor's degree; Several masters and doctoral degrees in related fields|
|McMaster University||52||3 bachelors degrees; Several masters and doctoral degrees in related fields|
|University of Alberta||90||1 masters and 1 doctoral degree in life biological sciences|
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:
Biotechnology in Canada is available in following degree types:
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:
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:
|Program||University||Duration||Annual Fees (CAD)|
|BSc Biotechnology||York University||4 yrs||$29,496|
|BSc Biotechnology||Brock University||4 yrs||NA|
|Diploma in Biotechnology||Humber College||2 yrs||$15,874|
|Ontario College Advanced Diploma in Food-Science Technology||Centennial College||2 yrs||$17,261|
|Bsc Agricultural Biotechnology||Lethbridge University||4 yrs||$17,526|
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:
Minimum eligibility may be higher for certain universities.
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
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:
|Program||University||Admission Requirement||Annual Fees (CAD)||Duration|
|Master of Biotechnology (MBiotech)||University of Toronto||UG degree in related field with B average grade; GRE scores; CV; 3 LOR’s||$47,110||2 yrs|
|MSc (Applied) Biotechnology||McGill University||UG CGPA 3.2/4.0; GRE (optional); CV; LOR; Personal Statement||$11,140||2 yrs|
|MSc Biomedical Engineering||University of Saskatchewan||4 year bachelor's degree in related field with 70%;CV; Letter of Intent||$6,730||2 yrs|
|Master of Biomedical Technology (MBT)||University of Calgary||BSc in Biological Sciences with 3.3 GPA in last 2 yrs; CV; Vision Statement; 2 Reference Letters||$24,538||1 yr|
|Msc Agricultural Biotechnology||University of Lethbridge||UG degree in related discipline with 3.0 GPA; CV; Letter of intent; 3 Reference Letters||$20,106||2 yrs|
Candidates applying for admission to masters in biotechnology in Canada have to meet certain basic eligibility requirements that are mentioned below:
Apart from the aforementioned academic eligibility, candidates also have to submit necessary documents along with their application for admission. List of required documents include:
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.
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 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:
|Program||University||Specializations||Annual Fees (CAD)|
|PhD Biotechnology||Brock University||Chemical Biotechnology; Gene Biotechnology||$15,670|
|PhD Biotechnology||Lakehead University||Medical Biotechnology; Environmental Biotechnology||$13,122|
|PhD in Microbiology & Immunology||University of British Columbia||Microbiology & Immunology||$8,952|
|PhD in Genome Science & Technology||University of British Columbia||Genome Science & Technology||$8,952|
|PhD in Biomedical Engineering||University of Saskatchewan||NA||$6,730|
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:
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.
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 Name||Offered To||Award Amount|
|Ontario Graduate Scholarship||Masters and Doctoral Candidates||$5000 per semester|
|Vanier Doctoral Scholarships||Doctoral Students||$50,000 per year for upto 3 years|
|International Tuition Scholarship||University of Lethbridge full-time MA/MSc or PhD programs||$17,000 (MSc); $34,000 (PhD)|
|School of Graduate Studies Fellowship||University 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 Biotechnology||MBiotech incoming students at University of Toronto||$2,000-$3,000|
|Brock Scholars Award||UG first year students||$4,000-$16,000 depending on academic merit|
|International Doctoral Fellowship||UBC doctoral students with excellent academic performance||$30,000 stipend+tuition fee(for 4 years); $18,000 funding package in 5th year|
|Killam Doctoral Fellowship||UBC 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.
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.
Some prominent job positions held by people with an educational background in biotechnology include:
|Designation||Annual Salary Range (CAD)|
|Aquatic Science Biologist||$61,000-$98,000|
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.