Immunology Master's Degrees: At a Glance
Immunologists examine the human immune system and its responses to infections and diseases. According to O*Net Online, most immunologists possess a doctoral or other professional degree. However, O*Net Online also states that some medical and clinical lab technologists have master's degrees, even though the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that these technologists usually need a bachelor's degree. The BLS also reports that some states and employers require that medical and clinical lab technologists be licensed or certified.
|Who is this degree for?||- Bachelor's degree holders seeking advanced knowledge in the field |
- Individuals interested in working as a medical or clinical lab technologist
- Individuals intending to continue their studies to earn either a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Medical Doctor (M.D.) degree
|Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary)||- Medical and clinical laboratory technologists ($58,000 - may vary with experience)*|
|Time to Completion||About 2 year, full-time|
|Common Graduation Requirements||- Coursework |
- Presentation of research posters
- Participation in a research project
- Writing a thesis
|Prerequisites|| - Letters of recommendation |
- Official transcripts from an accredited bachelor's degree program
- Minimum GPA of 3.0 for last two years of undergraduate coursework
- GRE scores
|Online Availability||- Individual courses are available|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).
Immunology Master's Degrees
Immunology master's degree programs usually prepare students for careers in biomedical research. Although applicants may not need a bachelor's degree in immunology for admission to these programs, most schools recommend that applicants have completed undergraduate courses in biology, chemistry and other science fields. The curriculum of these programs often includes coursework, lab research, independent studies and a thesis.
Pros and Cons
- Some programs may offer small class sizes, sometimes of no more than 50 students, which may make it easier to interact with professors or conduct research in your area of interest
- Professors may be from non-immunology-related departments, allowing you to incorporate these outside fields into your immunology studies
- Some programs emphasize Ph.D. studies, which may make it easier for admission into doctoral-level programs after graduation
- Medical and clinical lab technologists usually need a bachelor's degree*, meaning that you may compete against bachelor's degree holders for these jobs
- Technologists may work in facilities that operate around the clock, such as hospitals; as a result, you may be required to work evenings or weekends*
- Most immunologists possess a Ph.D. or M.D. degree, meaning that you may compete with these individuals for jobs**
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net Online.
Courses and Requirements
These programs teache students about recent developments in immunology and how to critically evaluate current literature about the field. Most programs include coursework, research and writing a thesis. Classes in these programs may cover topics like innate, muscular and mucosal immunology, cytokines, nutrition and immunology, immunotoxicology and avian immunology. Some programs may encourage or require students to participate in an internship.
Online Course Options
Fully online master's degree programs in immunology are rare. However, immunology-related courses are available online. These programs may be designed for individuals with a background in the biological sciences who want to complete professional development requirements or satisfy prerequisite courses to attend a Ph.D. degree program.
Stand Out with this Degree
To stand out with your degree, participate in research related to your intended career path. Faculty members at some schools may research topics like infectious disease pathology or dynamics, cancer immunology or immune-mediated diseases. Having experience researching the area of immunology related to your career path may make it easier to find a job after graduation.
Additionally, if offered in your program, consider completing an internship. An internship allows you to gain hands-on experience working in the field and to network with professionals. Having prior experience may impress employers, and networking may make it easier to find a job after graduation.