Setting Up a High School Biotechnology Program

The primary goal when setting up a high school biotechnology program is to prepare students for the burgeoning career opportunities in biotechnology.

This goal can be achieved with the help of other local institutions using a three-pronged approach:

  • Partnerships with industry laboratories for student internships
  • Formal and informal partnerships with biotech companies and research institutions
  • Articulation/alignment with local college programs

Here are three practical steps to get started.

The critical foundation requirements are quite typical for lab-oriented courses: setting expectations, budgeting, curriculum, lab facility and equipment, computers, administrative support, field trips, provision of potential workplace interfaces, professional development opportunities, and an adequate number of interested students.

Create an Advisory Committee

An advisory committee can help focus the program’s goals to meet the needs of the student population and the local community, create strategies, and address short- and long-term funding. Include high school teachers, community college instructors, students, counselors, school and district administrators, parents, businesses, industry members, and community members. Limit the number of participants to 15.

Develop a Vision Statement

The vision statement requires defining the target students for the course. It also requires identifying academic level, program prerequisites, characteristics, ages, and socioeconomic descriptors. Include target careers and industries, degrees and certificates, and industry/business partnerships.

Design an Implementation Plan

The implementation plan must include the course type, length, and style, a student course map, and an understanding of its place in the overall school curriculum. With that complete, you can develop course objectives and curriculum, find a facility, identify instructors, and build a timeline. Develop a separate plan for funding from various sources (national, regional, and state governments, corporations, foundations, and businesses).

Throughout this process, clearly identifying long-term economic advantages will help create the momentum required to set up a high school biotechnology course.


The above information is the property of Ellyn Daugherty, founder of the San Mateo Biotechnology Career Pathway (SMBCP) and author of Biotechnology: Science for the New Millennium, Second Edition, 2017. For more information, visit