Best Colleges for Biology in the U.S.

Read about degree programs in biology, a field of study that deals with living organisms as they relate to their environments. Learn about the academic options at three well-regarded universities, and find out what's unique to other schools in the U.S. that offer programs for aspiring biologists.

School Overviews

Students who are interested in pursuing careers as biologists can find top-tier programs at Stanford University, the University of California in Berkeley and Harvard University, which belongs to the Ivy League. The biological sciences programs at all three universities have received high rankings from U.S. News & World Report. Areas of specialization can include evolutionary, marine and plant biology, as well as microbiology.

1. Stanford University in Stanford, CA

School Highlight: According to Washington Monthly, Stanford University awarded 584 Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in the science and engineering fields, as of 2014.

The Department of Biology at Stanford offers three different degree programs for biology students, including a Bachelor of Science (B.S.), a coterminal Master of Science/Bachelor of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). The undergraduate program is often pursued as a precursor to medical school, while the coterminal MS/BS is intended for students already enrolled in the undergraduate program. In 2015, U.S. News & World Report ranked the university number one for its biological sciences programs. A minor is also available for student enrolled in other programs.

2. Harvard University in Cambridge, MA

School Highlight: Harvard University, an Ivy League school, was tied for the first slot on U.S. News & World Report's list of biological science programs in 2015.

The university's biology programs are separated into six distinct disciplines, which include chemical and physical biology, developmental and regenerative biology and molecular and cellular biology. Programs are also available in organismic and evolutionary biology, human evolutionary biology and neurobiology.

3. University of California - Berkeley

School Highlight: The University of California in Berkeley (UC - Berkeley) ranked fourth on U.S. News & World Report's list of biological science programs for 2015.

Undergraduate biology programs are offered through different colleges within the university. For example, the College of Letters and Science administers the molecular and cell biology and integrative biology programs, while the College of Natural Resources oversees the genetics and plant biology, environmental biology and microbial biology programs. A degree in chemical biology is available through the College of Chemistry. Graduate areas of study include genomic biology, nanoscale science and engineering, among other specialized fields.

Top Reputable Biology Schools

School Name Distinction Location
Johns Hopkins University BioREU, a summer research program for undergraduates Baltimore, MD
Washington University in Saint Louis Goldfarb Facility contributes to a strong plant biology program Saint Louis, MO
Yale University Offers six special programs in biology, including a physical/engineering and a chemical biology training program New Haven, CT
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Faculty members include four Nobel laureates Cambridge, MA
Princeton University Graduate students can focus on more than one of four disciplines in biology Princeton, NJ
University of California - San Francisco Tetrad Program for graduate biology students San Francisco, CA
California Institute of Technology New Division of Biology and Biological Engineering (BBE) Pasadena, CA

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