Best Liberal Arts Colleges for a Biology Degree

Best Liberal Arts Colleges for a Biology Degree

The best biology liberal arts colleges are those with rich histories of influence, proven through the work produced by the program’s faculty and alumni. Beyond demonstrating scholarly impact in the field, the best biology degree programs maximize your opportunities to interact with outstanding biology faculty.

A bachelor’s degree in biology is an excellent starting point for a career in zoology, ecology, botany, and a host of other fascinating STEM fields. As a biology major, you’ll study the full spectrum of life sciences. Your biology degree may incorporate subjects such as evolutionary biology, biochemistry, and microbiology, as well as foundational courses in subjects like human anatomy and biodiversity. The best schools for biology are those which are regionally accredited, which offer a full array of biology concentrations, and which give you the chance to work with the best and most influential professors and classmates.

Degree popularity: Biology bachelor’s degrees are the 6th most popular undergraduate degrees across all student demographics. It’s slightly more popular among women, and ranks the 4th most popular degree among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, according to the number of degree earners reported by the National Center for Educational Statistics

Frequently Asked Questions About Biology Bachelor’s Degrees

Once you’ve declared you major in biology, the common requirements include:

  • General Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biology and/or Biochemistry
  • Physics
  • Calculus
  • Statistics

Biology majors are also expected to engage in original research, working at on-campus laboratories or research facilities, as well as in the field. They will work closely with faculty, laboratory support staff, and teaching fellows as they explore areas of scientific interest. Most colleges include a senior capstone project based on original research, presented via poster, workshop, keynote, or other presentation.

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Biology is a good major for anyone interested in life, living things, and what makes them tick at the macro and micro levels. Whether you have an interest in human anatomy, cell biology, neuroscience, or animal physiology, a degree in biology can prepare you for work in fields as diverse as marine biology, neuroscience, medicine, and more.

Biology is a popular major because it can provide a pathway into countless fields and career opportunities. If you’re looking for a well-paying and secure job, a biology degree is a great place to start. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities in the life, physical, and social sciences will grow at a rate of 5 percent between now and 2029. This is faster than the average rate for all occupations. Likewise, the median annual wage for life, physical, and social science occupations was $68,160 in 2019, as compared to a median wage for all occupations of $39,810. Whether studying humans, animals, plants, insects, microscopic cells of bacteria, or even pondering the existence of life in space, a biology degree can provide you with the knowledge, skills, and credentials to work in a wide range of professional settings.

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Biology is a hard major for many because the language of science seems so unfamiliar. Biology is not as math intensive as other fields such as chemistry, but you will need to learn the basics of calculus and statistics. However, for students passionate about the study of biology and where they hope it leads them in their careers, successfully completing a major in biology is achievable.

Obviously, having a propensity in the hard sciences is helpful. This isn’t to say that you need special background knowledge. Just like any other college degree, a planned path to a major in biology should have you adequately prepared.

As a biology major, you will hone your research and observation skills, develop strategies for collection and evaluation of data, and acquire the language of science so you can effectively present your research.

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Once you’ve declared your major in biology, you will likely be required to complete a set of core courses in STEM-related subject areas. While your concentration will give you a chance to choose from a wide range of highly-specialized biology electives, there are a number of common courses that most biology majors will be required to take, including:

  • Biostatistics
  • Biochemistry
  • Human Anatomy
  • Microbiology
  • Marine Biology
  • Genetics
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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Biology Degree jobs include Medical Lab Technician, Forensic Science Technician, Zoologist, Environmental Scientist, and Chemist. Students often study biology as preparation for a professional program (pre-med, pre-veterinary, etc.) That doesn’t mean that you have to get an advanced degree to begin using your biology degree. A bachelor’s degree in biology can prepare you for many jobs in medicine, zoology, and chemistry. Here are some of the professions you could explore:

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Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Biology Degree Programs

If you think a research university may be a better fit for you, see our ranking of the best research universities for a bachelor’s in biology.

Best Liberal Arts Colleges for a Biology Degree

  1. #1

    Pomona College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

    Pomona College Biology

    Pomona College’s Biology Department offers students both a major and minor program in biology. The major program requires that students earn 32 course credits. The minor can be completed by taking 5 biology courses.

    Within Pomona College, students and faculty conduct research in numerous areas, including plant biology, cell and molecular biology, organismal biology, and environmental biology, among others. Students can take advantage of interdisciplinary programs as well, that combine elements of biology with other disciplines.

    Joint biology programs include programs in:

    • Public Policy Analysis — Biology
    • Environmental Analysis
    • Neuroscience
    • Molecular Biology
    • Medical Sciences
    • Plant Biology

    Students at Pomona College can also choose to study abroad, with numerous opportunities in different fields. Students could choose to study earth systems in New Zealand, comparative ecology and conservation in Ecuador, or marine and tropical biology in Australia. Other programs are offered to biology majors in countries including Israel, Spain, Mexico, France, Germany, and more.

    For those students choosing to remain at Pomona College, research facilities are located on campus to facilitate student and faculty research efforts. Some students may study at the Herman Garner Ecological Preserve and others may do research at the Richard S. Seaver Building, which houses the school’s greenhouses and other research and development laboratories.

    Class sizes at Pomona College are small, giving students personal attention and support throughout their studies. The culmination of the biology degree requires an original biological investigation, allowing students the chance to conduct scientific inquiry with the support of Pomona’s exceptional faculty and research staff.

    Source

  2. #2

    Swarthmore College

    Swarthmore , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    97%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    Swarthmore Biology Major

    Swarthmore College’s Biology Department promotes the learning of scientific methods, scientific communication skills, quantitative and qualitative research, and experiment design. Students work closely with faculty and staff as they acquire knowledge about biology and share the results of their work. In fact, students sharing their research with the campus community, as well as at the regional and national levels, is quite common.

    Advanced seminars in biology at Swarthmore College offer students a closer look at several biological disciplines, preparing them to take on more complex research problems. The school offers funds for field research both on and off campus. In addition, students can gain additional experience by applying to be an academic or laboratory teaching assistant. Academic assistants, also known as Science Associates, host study group meetings for first- and second-year students. Laboratory Teaching Assistants assist the professor during lab courses, acting as the eyes, ears, and hands of the teacher while class is in session.

    Students research at Swarthmore takes place on and off campus. On campus, the college is home to the Edward Martin Biological Laboratory, which has laboratories, a greenhouse, microscopy suite, dark room, herbarium, and much more. Other students may conduct research in the Scott Arboretum and Crum Woods, which provide field experiences for students studying environmental science.

    Swarthmore College offers a major and minor in Biology and also four interdisciplinary majors related to biology:

    • Biochemistry
    • Biology and Educational Studies
    • Environmental Science
    • Neuroscience

    Students in these programs can take advantage of summer research opportunities offered on and off campus every year.

    Source

  3. #3

    Amherst College

    Amherst , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    12%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    Amherst College Biology Major Pathways

    • Environmental
    • Neurobiology
    • Cancer
    • General
    • Infectious Disease

    Source

  4. #4

    Wesleyan University

    Middletown , CT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    4K

    Wesleyan Univeristy Biology Major

    • BA / MA in Biology
    • Developmental Biology
    • Ecology
    • Evolution
    • Genetics / Genomics / Bioinformatics
    • Neurology, Neurophysiology, and Behavior

    Source

  5. #5

    Williams College

    Williamstown , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    15%

    Graduation

    96%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1480/33

    Williams College Biology Major Concentrations

    • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Major
    • Bioinformatics, Genomics, and Proteomics
    • Environmental Studies
    • Public Health
    • Medicine
    • Neuroscience Major
    • Maritime Studies

    Source

  6. #6

    Wellesley College

    Wellesley , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    Wellesley College Biological Sciences Major

    The Biological Science major requires nine biology courses and at least two chemistry courses. The faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences maintain high standards for both teaching and research with several faculty members having been awarded The Pinanski Teaching prizes for teaching excellence. Faculty actively pursue extramural funding to support research programs that also train undergraduate students in the development of that research. Nearly all courses offered by the department include a laboratory or field-based component where students can design and perform their own experiments.

    The Department of Biological Sciences is committed to inclusive excellence and values the diversity of our students, faculty and staff. Anyone interested in life is welcome to join this vibrant and supportive community.

    Source

  7. Other Rankings

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/27

  8. #8

    Bowdoin College

    Brunswick , ME
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    2K

    Bowdoin College Biology Major Concentration

    • Integrative Biology
    • Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology
    • Molecular and Cellular Biology

    Source

  9. #10

    Colgate University

    Hamilton , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $62K

    Acceptance

    27%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    Colgate University Biology Major Concentrations

    • General Biology
    • Molecular Biology
    • Environmental Biology
    • Natural Sciences with concentration in Marine Science – Freshwater Science

    Source

  10. #11

    Oberlin College

    Oberlin , OH
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    35%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1380/31

    Oberlin College Biology Major

    In the Biology Department, students and faculty work together to explore new ideas and solve complex problems. The Biology curriculum ensures that all students develop a common set of core knowledge, skills, and competencies, while at the same time fostering personalized pathways through the major. The Oberlin College Science Center is a state-of-the-art building with classroom and instructional research facilities for up to 45 student researchers in biology, 30 in chemistry, and 15 in neuroscience. Biology students may collaborate with faculty on systems and organisms research that investigates bacteria, wasps, crayfish, nematodes, opossums, aquatic plants, and more. Field teams cooperate in observational, analytical, and experimental enquiries, investigating ecological and evolutionary processes in river, forest, desert, tropical, and urban ecosystems.

    Source

  11. #12

    Middlebury College

    Middlebury , VT
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    22%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/33

    Middlebury College Biology Major Concentrations

    • Environmental Science
    • Neuroscience
    • Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

    Source

  12. #14

    Claremont McKenna College

    Claremont , CA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    13%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1435/32

    Oberlin College Biology Major

    The biology major of the Keck Science Department aims to provide students with skills and knowledge t to effectively engage and evaluate biological science issues and innovations and to prepare them as leaders in research, biotechnology, and health-related career fields.

    Source

  13. #15

    Reed College

    Portland , OR
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $63K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1422/32

    Reed College Biology Major Concentrations

    • Biology General
    • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    • Environmental Studies-Biology
    • Neuroscience
    • Division of Mathematical and Natural Sciences

    Source

  14. #16

    Vassar College

    Poughkeepsie , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $63K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

  15. #17

    Haverford College

    Haverford , PA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1460/33

    Haverford College Biology Major Concentrations

    • Cell Biology
    • Genetics
    • Immunology
    • Microbiology
    • Neurobiology
    • Developmental Biology
    • Protein Biochemistry
    • Coevolution of Plants and the Environment

    Source

  16. #18

    Barnard College

    New York , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/32

    Barnard College Biology Major Tracks

    • General Biology
    • Cellular & Molecular
    • Ecological & Evolutionary
    • Physiological & Organismal

    Source

  17. #20

    Carleton College

    Northfield , MN
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1450/32

    Carleton College Biology Major Concentrations

    • Molecular and Cell Biology
    • Organismic Biology
    • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

    Source

  18. #21

    Davidson College

    Davidson , NC
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    93%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1397/31

    Davidson College Biology Major

    Research opportunities with professors

    • Behavioral ecology
    • Biodiversity, conservation biology, & community ecology
    • Developmental neurobiology
    • Environmental cell biology
    • Genetics of mitochondrial morphogenesis
    • Genomics & synthetic biology
    • Immunology
    • Insect community ecology & conservation biology
    • Nervous system maintenance & regeneration
    • Viral pathogenesis

    Source

  19. #23

    Smith College

    Northampton , MA
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    37%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    3K

    Smith College Biology Major Tracks

    • Integrative Biology
    • Cells, Physiology, and Development
    • Genetics, Evolution, and Molecular Biosciences
    • Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation
    • Biology and Education

    Source

  20. Other Rankings

    Acceptance

    13%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1335/30

    USAFA Biology Major Concentrations

    • Environmental and Organismal Biology
    • Bioenvironmental Engineering
    • Cellular and Molecular Biology
    • Human Factors and Performance
    • Aerospace Physiology
    • Physical Therapy
    • Professional or Advanced Degree Option

    Source

Go to all Liberal Arts for Biology programs

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