Best Colleges and Universities for Biology Degrees

The best biology schools 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.

Best Colleges and Universities for Biology Degrees

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 Colleges and Universities for Biology Degree Programs

Frequently Asked Questions About Research Universities, Liberal Arts Colleges, Online Colleges

In pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you will need to choose between three kinds of schools: research universities, liberal arts colleges, and online colleges.

Research universities are colleges and universities whose faculty are active in research and publishing. These schools offer a wide array of doctoral programs, especially in the sciences. They tend to be big, with tens of thousands of students.

Do you prefer a larger university setting, such as largest public university in your state? Research universities are typically big, offering degrees in many different disciplines. Is a big high-powered research environment the thing for you. If not, you should think about a liberal arts college. In deciding on an undergraduate institution, ask yourself what sort of environment will best help you to be happy and excel.

  • Consider whether you are self motivated enough to be a face in the crowd for some classes and largely unknown on campus at a large university. Of course you can find clubs and friends at a large university, but often liberal arts colleges have a more personal quality to them. If you want the community feel, a research university may not fit you well.
  • Are you interested in STEM fields? Research universities have that name for a reason – real research is happening there. This can create an exciting atmosphere for students interested in STEM. Attending a research university can give you a better chance of getting into better programs for graduate degrees, although a lot of that depends on your performance.

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Often referred to as “teaching colleges” liberal arts colleges put a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree.

  • Do you want your professors to know you? Liberal arts colleges strive to cultivate campus cultures that encourage tight bonds between professors and students. Professors at these schools will typically conduct original research. Yet the best of these schools offer their faculty reduced teaching loads so that they can both be productive researchers and still have plenty of time for students (both in and outside the classroom).
  • Do you want to feel like you know everybody? One of the most enticing features of a liberal arts college is that in very little time, you can feel like you know who’s who, which can create strong friendships, but also more pleasurable walks across campus. While your sports teams may never be on ESPN, it’s more likely that you’ll know the athletes as your peers. Beyond student and faculty relationships, it’s not unusual for the school president and other administrators to learn who you are. When faced with problems with your student account or the need to switch classes, this can be comforting during a stressful moment.

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Online colleges are typically the same colleges and universities you could attend in-person, but for certain degree programs the college or unviersity has made the degree programs available to be completed online. For over 5 million students, online degree programs allow students to earn their degrees in the most flexible format available. Online degrees are as respected as the on-campus degress you could earn from the same schools. There’s usually no disctinction between the two degrees, and your degree and transcript will not say that the degree was earned online. Online degree programs are offered by a vast majority of colleges and universities, and the number of offering continues to grow. Whehter you are searching for an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, there’s a good chance you can earn your degree online from a respectable online college.

  • Are you a self-driven student? Perhaps the hardest aspect of obtaining an online degree is whether you will be disciplined enough to manage your time and course demands. Many online students report that online college made them more disciplined in all areas of their lives, but the flexible, self-paced learning that makes online colleges attractive can often be the same qualities that make it difficult. If you tend to be a procrastinator, you need to be honest with yourself. You can change your habits and propensities, or you can throw money down the drain.
  • Do you need the flexibility of an online degree program? Most online students study online because of time demands balancing work and life, or becuase the online colleges afford them the chance to attend a better school without moving. If you are serious about earning your degree for career advancement, online colleges make it possible. The most flexible options among online degrees are those that are aynchronous, meaning you don’t have scheduled times to meet with your class online. However, many students seek synchronous online degree programs so that they have some structure – set meeting times, scheduled exams, etc.
  • The good news is that attending an online college doesn’t mean you will miss out on getting to know your professors and classmates. In fact, many online students who have experienced both online and on-campus courses report having easier access to their professors. Since most communication with your professor is expected to be in text – via email or your class learning management system – it makes asking your questions easier. The same students also report that they got to better know the thoughts of their classmates. While in-person course conversations can be dominated by a few extroverts, online courses that require online discussions make it so that you see all of your classmates’ thoughts and questions.

If you interested in an online bachelor’s degree, check out what the best online colleges offer, or search our online degrees for the exact program that interests you. In either case, you will find well respected colleges and universities that offer online degrees.

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The Best Colleges and Universities for Biology Degrees

Best Biology Major Research Universities

  1. Harvard University
  2. Stanford University
  3. Yale Univeristy
  4. MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  5. Columbia University

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Best Biology Major Liberal Arts Colleges

  1. Pomona College
  2. Swarthmore College
  3. Amherst College
  4. Wesleyan University
  5. Williams College

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Best Biology Major Online Colleges

  1. University of Florida
  2. University of Arizona
  3. Kean University
  4. West Texas A&M University
  5. University of Houston–Victoria

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The Best Biology Schools in Your State

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Learn More About Biology

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