KINGSTON, R.I. – January, 2019 – The University of Rhode Island’s program in biotechnology has been ranked fourth best in the nation by College Choice, an online resource for students selecting a college to attend. URI has the highest ranked biotechnology program in New England.
The ranking, which was announced in December, is based on program quality, affordability, value, reputation and satisfaction, and it factors in the rankings by U.S. News and World Report and statistics at Payscale.com.
“We’re so pleased that our biotechnology program has been recognized by College Choice,” said Ed Bozzi, the URI clinical professor who directs the program. “We know our program is pretty special. We stress lab skills and lab knowledge, and our labs are equipped to mimic those in major industry facilities. Our internship placement rate is practically 100 percent. And our students compete very successfully with students from every other university in the country.”
Launched in 2002 when the state’s biotechnology industry was in its infancy, the URI Biotechnology Manufacturing Program has evolved to serve the needs of the growing number of large and small biotech companies in the region while also providing a launching point for students entering medical school or seeking to pursue other careers. About 20 students enroll in the program each year.
Bozzi points to the program’s internship initiative as an element that sets URI’s biotechnology program apart. Every student completes a full-time internship at a biotechnology company in Rhode Island or nearby Massachusetts or Connecticut during the summer following their enrollment in the program. Most are paid internships that after completing, many companies offer the students part-time jobs until they finish their degree.
“We have great relationships with all of the small biotech companies in the area, so they tend to give our students priority,” Bozzi said. “That’s part of what makes our internship program so special.”
Because of the credits earned for the internship, many students successfully complete their degree in just three-and-a-half years. More than 300 students have graduated from the program since it began, many of whom enrolled following military service.
Another reason for the program’s success, according to Bozzi, is a high school biotechnology initiative Bozzi and his colleague, Dr Doreen Osgood coordinate at 20 high schools in Rhode Island.
“The Amgen Biotech Experience introduces students to the field of biotechnology, and many of those that like it end up enrolling in our program,” he said.
In addition to URI’s Biotechnology Manufacturing Program, which leads to a degree in medical laboratory science, URI also offers a biotechnology track in its cell and molecular biology degree program. Next year, the two programs will likely be merged into a single biotechnology major.