Five biotechnology colleges in India cultivating future leaders

Biotechnology colleges in India

Studying biotechnology is a popular choice for many students in India. Thankfully, there are plenty of universities throughout the vast country offering biotech-related courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels that can lead to numerous career opportunities and job prospects. In this article, we take a look at five biotechnology colleges in different regions of India that are preparing future talent to work in the nation’s life sciences industry, or elsewhere in the world. 

Table of contents

    Gujarat Biotechnology University 

    Gujarat Biotechnology University (GBU) is based in Gujarat, which is the main hub for pharmaceutical production in India and the Gujarat biotechnology industry consists of more than 200 biotechnology companies and organizations. As its name suggests, the university here is focused entirely on biotechnology, with the aim of training and preparing scientists in cutting-edge, product-focused research so that they can create and deliver groundbreaking, novel, and innovative products for the India of tomorrow. 

    GBU offers both Master of Science (MSc) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs in five different areas of biotechnology: animal biotechnology, environmental biotechnology, industrial biotechnology, medical biotechnology, and plant biotechnology. As an example of what these courses may involve, students taking the medical biotechnology MSc program will learn how to convert key biomedical and medical research into specific applications related to pharmaceutical innovation, disease control, and ameliorating the effects of aging or disability, which will be reinforced through robust training in bioethics, biosafety and the regulatory processes required to bring medical biotechnology products to the market. Meanwhile, the MSc program in industrial biotechnology encompasses in-depth training in various industrially essential areas, such as fermentation, microbiology, drug discovery, and synthetic biology. 

    GBU operates in partnership with the University of Edinburgh, which has designed the five MSc programs to be on par with its curriculum at Edinburgh. The partnership seeks to deliver a curriculum, research, and industry engagement ecosystem aligned with the Indian life science industry. The University of Edinburgh says its aim is to co-create a new culture of excellence, impact, and flexibility that will support industry growth and be an innovative model institution.

    All India Institute of Medical Sciences Delhi

    Located in New Delhi, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is a public medical research university and hospital. It was established as an institution of national importance by an Act of Parliament with the aim of bringing about a high standard of medical education in India. 

    The university also has its own Department of Biotechnology. The research projects in this department are funded by various Indian government agencies, as well as through intramural support and international funding agencies like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The department offers a two-year Master’s course in Biotechnology, a one-year post-Master’s training program for in-service medical faculty, and a PhD program in certain areas of Medical Biotechnology. Some of the areas students can cover in the department’s Master’s program include biochemistry, cell and developmental biology, genetics (human and bacterial), immunology and immunotechnology, medical microbiology and infection biology, microbiology, molecular biology, bioinformatics, plus many more. 

    The department outlines that, in order to cater to the needs of both faculty and students for database access, literature research, and the retrieval of scientific information, it provides access to a dedicated Bioinformatics section, and it routinely conducts workshops, seminars, and guest lectures in wide subject areas to facilitate learning in multiple different ways. Furthermore, the faculty of the department is actively involved in advanced research in areas such as infectious diseases, bioinformatics, osteoimmunology, virology, and innate immunity.  

    Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

    Established in 1958, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay is a public research university located in Mumbai that operates under the guidance of the IIT Council, established by India’s Ministry of Education. As a science- and technology-focused university, it has many academic divisions, including departments focused on aerospace, chemical, civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering. It ranked first among the best universities in India in the latest QS World University Rankings

    It also happens to be one of the best biotechnology colleges in India and has a dedicated Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering. Here, students are able to take an MSc in Biotechnology, a Master of Technology (MTech) in Biomedical Engineering, or a PhD in either Biotechnology or Biomedical Engineering. 

    The MSc program in Biotechnology looks to provide students with in-depth knowledge of molecular cell biology and computational biology and their applications. The curriculum covers courses in thermodynamics, spectroscopy, enzymology, metabolism, genetics, cell biology, analytical biochemistry and microbiology, molecular biology, genetic engineering, immunology, molecular biophysics, and bioinformatics, together with relevant laboratory programs, and a research project leading to a dissertation.

    Alternatively, for students who are interested in the MTech program in Biomedical Engineering, the curriculum for this course has been designed to provide all students with a general background in Biomedical Engineering followed by more specific knowledge in the area of their choice. The former is achieved through core (for everyone) and compulsory/softcore (for students with a particular background) courses in the first semester. Meanwhile, electives taken during the second and third semesters can provide specialized knowledge in the areas of individual interest. 

    Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur 

    Ranking fourth in India in the QS World University Rankings, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur is another public institute of technology and research university, located in Kharagpur in West Bengal. Since its inauguration in 1951, IIT Kharagpur has been engaged in a steady process of development in its vast tree-laden campus, now spreading over 2,100 acres with a township of over 15,000 inhabitants. 

    The Department of Biotechnology at the university started in 1986. The college was one of the first to offer MTech programs in Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering in India and has since received support from the government. In 1994, the college also initiated a Bachelor of Technology (BTech) program in Biotechnology & Biochemical Engineering. According to the university, this curriculum served as a model for other programs in Biotechnology at other institutes of technology in the country. 

    The university still gives students the option to take a BTech and an MTech in Biotechnology and Biochemical Engineering. The BTech is made up of eight semesters in total and teaches students various different subject areas throughout the course of the program, including biochemistry and microbiology laboratory work, environmental science, cell and molecular biology, and genetics. If students then decide to go on and take the MTech, the program will provide them with knowledge in core areas such as immunotechnology, bioseparation technology, and recombinant DNA technology. 

    Indian Institute of Science

    The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is a public university based in Bangalore for higher education and research in science, engineering, design, and management. It was established in 1909, and now has more than 42 academic departments and centers that come under six divisions, with 4,000 students pursuing several postgraduate and PhD programs. The college also has a dedicated four-year undergraduate program aimed at providing research-oriented training for young students in the basic sciences.

    The university’s Division of Biological Sciences works to forge important links between basic science and innovative research and is committed to enhancing studies in almost all aspects of modern biology, including neuroscience in health and disease, infectious disease, structural biology, oncology, DNA repair and genomic stability, systems biology and bioinformatics, immunology, enzymology, reproductive and developmental biology, diverse ecological studies, and so on. There are also specific departments that operate under this division: Biochemistry; Central Animal Facility; the Centre for Ecological Sciences; the Centre for Infectious Disease Research; the Centre for Neuroscience; Microbiology and Cell Biology; the Molecular Biophysics Unit; and the Department of Developmental Biology and Genetics (DBG).

    Additionally, the university has a relatively new graduate program, in which students have the opportunity to take an MSc in Life Sciences. This 2-year degree consists of foundational and flexible coursework and hands-on laboratory training. It is aimed at developing experimental skills in advanced techniques for research, leading to an independent thesis research project. Students enrolled in the course can personalize their coursework and research projects. 

    India: a booming bioeconomy industry 

    In recent times, India has emerged as one of the world’s leading players in biotechnology, with an industry that is growing quickly and generating many biotech startups. According to Invest India, the country is among the top 12 destinations for biotechnology worldwide and the third largest destination for biotechnology in the Asia-Pacific region. India’s bioeconomy has grossed an estimated $130 billion in 2024, and has witnessed a major increase in valuation in the past 11 years, with COVID-19 giving the industry a much-needed push. This also provides students studying biotechnology in India with the perfect climate for finding jobs in the industry once they finish their programs.

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