A four-year immunology degree program explores the ways that humans fight pathogens. Throughout an immunology bachelor's program, students learn how humans and animals ward off attacking pathogens, like viruses, fungi and bacteria.
Biochemistry bachelor's degree programs are designed for those who want to learn about the characteristics of living organisms. Students learn hands-on techniques like cell culture, protein extraction and drug testing.
A bachelor's degree in biology is more commonly available than programs in immunology and biochemistry. Students gain a well-rounded education that covers the biology of humans, animals, plants and microorganisms living in various environments.
All of these programs include lab work and may offer research or internship opportunities. For acceptance into any of these bachelor's programs, prospective students must have at least a high school diploma or GED.
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Immunology
Biological therapy, otherwise known as immunotherapy, is an innovative procedure used to treat cancer through immune system techniques. A bachelor's program in immunology may go by the names B.S. in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics or B.S. in Immunology and Infectious Disease.
This is an interdisciplinary subject that includes studies in genetics, cell biology and biochemistry. Learning about immunology is vital for the process of developing vaccines and drugs that can help combat medical issues such as tissue destruction, immunodeficiencies and certain types of cancer. Research opportunities focused on diseases like AIDS and herpes may be offered.
Courses in immunology cover a wide range of related topics through core curriculum requirements, elective classes and laboratory time. The material is designed to provide a solid education for students interested in transferring to a graduate program. Typical course topics may be:
- Molecular biology
Bachelor's Degree in Biochemistry
Biochemistry bachelor's programs may grant B.S. or B.A. degrees. The course curriculum equips students with a broad education in biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics. The principles behind these subjects are applied to the study of organelles, molecules, cell tissues and organisms. The purpose of the program is to prepare students for further studies at the graduate level, though there are starting job positions available to graduates. Those with a background in biochemistry may work in a variety of fields like medicine, agriculture and many other areas of science.
The program teaches students how to investigate the intricate biological processes and characteristics of all living organisms. Course topics usually involve:
- Physical chemistry and biotechnology
- Experimental biochemistry
- Macromolecular structure
- Enzyme kinetics and mechanisms
- Gene expression and free radicals
Bachelor's Degree in Biology
A general biology program might result in B.S or B.A. degrees. The generalized biology based education in the program provides students with a solid foundation in science. The curriculum covers everything from organic chemistry to zoology.
Some general biology programs offer specialization areas, like evolutionary biology or cell biology. The wide-ranging knowledge obtained also allows students to discover what sub-discipline interests them, for further studies at the graduate level.
Common course topics include:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Biology of public health, genetics and cancer cells
- Terrestrial and aquatic ecology
- Vertebrates and invertebrates
- Mammalogy and ornithology
- Flowering plants and fungi
Popular Career Choices
Graduates can find entry-level employment within pharmaceutical or biotechnology companies. With teacher certification, education jobs might also be within reach. Although most graduates go on to advanced programs, some can find starting positions in hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and research facilities, to name a few. The following are some positions available for graduates with a bachelor's degree:
- Laboratory assistant
- High school science teacher
- Research technician
- Pharmaceutical sales representative
- Pharmaceutical research assistant
- Biochemist research assistant
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, employment for medical scientists is projected to increase by 8% between 2014 and 2024, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. The job growth is due to new scientific discoveries, such as advanced techniques for studying genes and expansion of the biotechnology industry. As of May 2015, the annual median wage for medical scientists was $82,240.
While a bachelor's degree is acceptable for some positions, such as product development, applied research, management and teaching, a Ph.D. degree is required for most jobs in independent research, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Ph.D. programs in immunology are available and prepare students to work as medical scientists specifically developing immunotherapy treatments. Joint M.D./Ph.D. programs related to biological therapy are available as well, and individuals with both degrees should have the best job prospects, also per the BLS (www.bls.gov). Relevant topics covered in these programs may include cancer immunology, infections and inflammation, lymphocytes, immunobiology and immunotherapeutics. Hands-on laboratory training is a vital component of such programs, allowing students to concentrate on the research area of their interest, like biological therapy. Postdoctoral positions allow individuals to continue their immunotherapy development initiatives.
Students interested in biological therapy can earn a bachelor's degree in immunology, biochemistry, or biology to learn the required research and laboratory skills to pursue graduate programs or a career as a medical scientist.