Harvard launches life sciences joint degree

A row of microscopes on a bench


3 min read

Harvard Business School (HBS) and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) announced this week a new joint master’s degree program that aims to prepare future leaders at the interface of  life sciences and business. The two-year, full-time program begins in August 2020 and will confer both a Master of Business Administration from HBS and a Master of Science from GSAS, through Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB).

The new MS/MBA Biotechnology: Life Sciences Program equips students with approaches to the science and medical aspects of entrepreneurial activities and will empower them to build organizations with the potential to transform human health. The curriculum emphasizes an understanding of effective, sustainable structures for discovery and development, the ethical implications of new therapeutics, and equitable access to the fruits of therapeutic discovery.

“The world needs more leaders able to bridge science and business,” said HBS Dean Nitin Nohria. “We aim to provide graduates of this new program with tools to understand the most modern biomedical science issues, as well as knowledge of scientific methodologies and timeframes, so they can be effective leaders in this domain.”

Students in the program will receive life-science training in HSCRB, a joint department between Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Medical School.

“This is a collaborative effort from several schools across Harvard to fill a unique need we see in the industry,” said Emma Dench, dean of GSAS. “Currently there is no systematic educational approach to train leaders in this field but students yearn for an opportunity to become conversant in biomedical science and business together. Nearly half of HSCRB graduates are now entering careers in biotech/pharma, biomedical consulting, and finance. We want to prepare them to be leaders in these fields, while helping others that may gravitate towards leadership roles in government and non-profits involved in the life sciences.”

The Master of Science degree component is led by world-renowned Harvard scientists and clinicians who have extensive biotechnology and pharmaceutical experience. They will give students distilled, focused exposure to a wide range of modern science and show them potential ways to deploy their learnings strategically for the discovery of novel therapeutics.

The MBA component is directed by business school faculty members who are experts in biotechnology leadership, financing, and social ramifications. The seamless integration of all these elements will prepare students for leadership in the biotechnology-related arena in a manner that is not currently available through traditional programs.

MS/MBA Biotechnology: Life Sciences students will complete their degree requirements over two years, augmented by coursework during August at the beginning of the program and during both January terms. Students will have the summer available between the first and second years to pursue an internship in the life sciences or biotech space.

The program aims to attract a diverse group of outstanding students who have an undergraduate degree in life sciences or medicine or significant workplace experience in biotechnology or life sciences.