The Bachelor’s Degree in Biotechnology at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) is a 4-year degree with 240 ECTS credits. Each year 40 places are offered in Spanish and 40 places in Basque. Link to the official website of the degree in Biotechnology (only in Spanish and Basque).
The study plan is broad, which means that many different areas are studied. Logically, many of them are related to biotechnology, biochemistry, physiology, cellular and molecular biology, and genetic engineering. Also a part of the degree is dedicated to chemical engineering, with subjects such as fluid mechanics, reactor design and separation processes. More on this in the “What should I study?” section.
Most of the degree consists of compulsory courses, so there is not much room for course choice. Specifically, in the first three years all courses are compulsory. In the fourth year there are electives, so there is some choice here, besides being able to choose your Final Degree Project (TFG). Link to the official page with the study plan (only in Spanish and Basque).
ACCESS AND DIFFICULTY
The main form of access is the University Entrance Examination (EAU), also called Selectividad. But there are other forms of access, such as access from higher education, entrance exams for students over 25 and 45 years of age, foreign students from other educational systems or access for students with university degrees.
Admission to the Biotechnology degree at the UPV/EHU is quite competitive. It has one of the highest cut-off marks of the UPV/EHU, often the fourth degree with the highest cut-off mark. For example, the cut-off mark in 2021/2022 was 12.872.
As for the degree itself, in my opinion (this is always subjective) the difficulty is not excessively high, although it is not easy either, of course. Almost all students who start the degree finish it, and most do so in 4 years. To some extent this is because the students who enter the degree are usually good. The first year and a half is quite doable. The second term of the second year and the third year are more complicated. And the fourth year is again easier.
WHICH DEGREE SHOULD I STUDY: BIOTECHNOLOGY, BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY, OR BIOLOGY?
This section gives advice on which UPV/EHU degree you should take, depending on your tastes. Let’s start with biology, since it is the most different of the three degrees. The biology degree studies much more the macroscopic, compared to the biochemistry and biotechnology degrees, which study much more the microscopic. Therefore, in biology you will find subjects such as Botany, Zoology and Ecology. To put it very simplistically: are you a boot or a lab coat scientist? Do you prefer to see animals and plants in the forest or in the mountains, or do you think you will prefer to see tissues under the microscope or see their DNA? If your answer was “boot”, the Biology degree is a better choice for you. If your answer was “lab coat”, the Biochemistry and Biotechnology degrees are better choices for you. Link to the official Biology degree website https://www.ehu.eus/es/grado-biologia.
If you answered “lab coat” you still have to choose between the Biotechnology and Biochemistry degrees. Both degrees study biology, especially molecular biology, biochemistry and genetic engineering. The major difference is that the Biotechnology degree is also oriented to the world of chemical engineering, and to a lesser extent, to the world of biotech business. As for chemical engineering, the Biotechnology degree includes 5 chemical engineering subjects: Fundamentals of Chemical Engineering, Fluid Mechanics, Reactor Design, Matter Transfer and Separation Processes. These subjects are based on engineering and mathematics, and can be useful in fields such as wastewater treatment and the use of bioreactors. In addition, the biotechnology degree is also somewhat more oriented to biotechnology companies than the biochemistry degree, having Economics and Integrated Biotechnology Laboratory. If these worlds interest you, the biotechnology degree is a good choice for you. In the biochemistry degree, on the other hand, those chemical engineering and business subjects are replaced by subjects closer to molecular biology and biochemistry: pathology, metabolic regulation, cell signaling, human genetics, spectroscopy, etc. Therefore, if molecular biology interests you more than chemical engineering/biotech companies, the biochemistry and molecular biology degree is a better option.
Links to the official pages of the Biotechnology Degree and of the Degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (only in Spanish and Basque).