Biomedical science graduate programs are maintained at academic institutions and medical schools around the world, and some biomedical graduate programs are administered jointly by an academic institution and a business, hospital, or independent research institute. While graduate students historically committed to a particular research specialty, such as molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics, or developmental biology, the recent trend (particularly in the United States) is to offer interdisciplinary programs that do not specialize and instead aim to incorporate a broad education in multiple biological disciplines. Historically people entering biomedical graduate programs have held a master's degree, although many universities (particularly in the United States) currently accept applicants holding a bachelor's degree with exceptional credentials such as high undergraduate GPA and entry examination scores as well as extensive research experience.
Initially, biomedical graduate students usually rotate through the laboratories of several faculty researchers, after which the student commits to joining a particular laboratory for the remainder of his or her tenure. The remaining time is spent conducting original research under the direction of the principal investigator to complete and publish a dissertation. Unlike undergraduate and professional schools, there is no set time period for graduate education. Students graduate once a thesis project of significant scope to justify the writing of their dissertation has been completed, a point that is determined by the student's principal investigator as well as his or her faculty advisory committee. The average time to graduation can vary between institutions, but most programs average around 5–6 years.
Biomedical scientists typically study in undergraduate majors that are focused on biological sciences, such as biochemistry, microbiology, zoology, biophysics, etc.
The specific activities of the biomedical scientist can differ in various parts of the world and vary with the level of education. Generally speaking, biomedical scientists conduct research in a laboratory setting, using living organisms as models to conduct experiments. These can include cultured human or animal cells grown outside of the whole organism, small animals such as flies, worms, fish, mice, and rats, or, rarely, larger animals and primates. Biomedical scientists may also work directly with human tissue specimens to perform experiments as well as participate in clinical research.
Biomedical scientists typically obtain bachelor of science usually take postgraduate studies diploma, master or (PhD, DSc, DPhil, etc.) This degree is necessary for faculty positions at academic institutions, as well as senior scientist positions at most companies. Some biomedical scientists also possess a medical degree (MD, DO, PharmD, MBBS, etc.) in addition to an academic degree.
This category includes tenured faculty positions at universities, colleges, non-profit research institutes, and sometimes hospitals. These positions usually afford more intellectual freedom and give the researcher more latitude in the direction and content of the research. Scientists in academic settings, in addition to conducting experiments, will also attend scientific conferences, compete for research grant funding, publish scientific papers, and teach classes.
Industry jobs refer to private sector jobs at for-profit corporations. In the case of biomedical scientists, employment is usually at large pharmaceutical companies or biotechnology companies. Positions in industry tend to pay higher salaries than those at academic institutions, but job security compared to tenured academic faculty is significantly less. Researchers in industry tend to have less intellectual freedom in their research than those in the academic sector, owing to the ultimate goal of producing marketable products that benefit the company.