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.

Top U.S. Schools with Biology Programs

1. Stanford University in Stanford, CA

According to Washington Monthly, Stanford University awarded 503 Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in the science and engineering fields, as of 2010. In 2011, U.S. News & World Report ranked the university number one for its biological sciences programs.

The Department of Biology at Stanford offers three different degree programs for biology students, including a Bachelor of Science (B.S.), a co-terminal Master of Science/Bachelor of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). The department has four areas of research and study. They include molecular, cell and developmental biology and genetics; population and evolutionary biology and ecology; plant biology and marine biology.

2. Harvard University in Cambridge, MA

Harvard University, an Ivy League school, was ranked second on U.S. News & World Report's list of biological science programs in 2011. 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

The University of California in Berkeley (UC - Berkeley) also ranked second on U.S. News & World Report's list of biological science programs for 2011. According to the National Research Council (NRC), the university also had the highest number of top-ranked graduate programs in the nation. Faculty members include Nobel laureates.

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.

List of Ten Reputable Biology Schools

School Name Distinction Location
University of California - Berkeley Unique emphases for graduate study Berkeley, CA
Harvard University Offers six different disciplines in biology Cambridge, MA
Johns Hopkins University BioREU, a summer research program for undergraduates Baltimore, MD
Stanford University Previously ranked number one in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report Stanford, CA
Washington University in Saint Louis Goldfarb Facility and affiliations with the Missouri Botanical Garden and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center make for 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 Ongoing research has produced significant results in many areas of biology, including cancer treatment Pasadena, CA

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