Biology Colleges and Universities in the U.S.

A student enrolled in a graduate biology program may study a broad range of living organisms and their environments. Within biology, there are many subspecialties, including cellular and molecular biology, genetics, microbiology, botany, zoology, evolution, ecology and marine biology.

How to Select a Biology College

Most 4-year colleges and universities in the U.S. offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs in biology. The type of biology training depends upon whether the student chooses a career in scientific research, medicine or education.

Also, students should consider the following when choosing a graduate program in biology:

  • There are many biology programs available across the U.S., so students may wish to narrow down their potential selections by examining the program's research projects.
  • A bachelor's degree is generally required for a student interested in becoming a research technician; to become an independent researcher, the student will need a graduate degree.
  • Modern laboratory facilities and equipment may be of interest to students seeking research opportunities at the school.

Biology Program Overviews

Bachelor's Degree in Biology

Biology degree programs can lead to a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science depending upon the school. Besides general education courses, students take courses in chemistry (general, organic, physical, biochemistry), physics and mathematics (calculus, statistics). Upperclassmen take core electives in biology, which vary with the program. Core classes in biology include:

  • General biology
  • Genetics
  • Cell biology
  • Plant physiology
  • Animal physiology

Master's Degree in Biology

Master's degree programs in biology vary between schools. The course of training is more individualized than that of undergraduate biology programs. Students choose a faculty research advisor and plan appropriate coursework for their research interests. Besides classes, graduate students must typically conduct research and write a thesis based on their research. Most graduate students finance their education through research assistantships, scholarships and research grants, so it is important to discuss this aspect with a faculty advisor. Master's degree students may take courses such as:

  • Parasitology
  • Animal behavior
  • Molecular biology

Doctoral Degree in Biology

Biology doctoral programs have individualized courses of study, which are agreed upon by the student and a faculty advisor. Doctoral programs emphasize research in some subspecialty of biology and require some coursework and a written dissertation based on the student's research. Doctoral programs usually take four or more years to complete, compared to two years for a master's program. A master's degree in biology is not a pre-requisite for doctoral degree programs; usually only a bachelor's degree is required and not necessarily one in biology. Like master's degree students, doctoral students finance their education through research assistantships, scholarships and research grants. Doctoral students may come across courses such as:

  • Biochemistry
  • Advanced cell biology
  • Endocrinology

Top 10 Biology Graduate Schools

Harvard University 4-year, Private
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 4-year, Private
Stanford University 4-year, Private
University of California--Berkeley 4-year, Public
California Institute of Technology 4-year, Private
Johns Hopkins University 4-year, Private
University of California--San Francisco 4-year, Public
Yale University 4-year, Private
Princeton University 4-year, Private
Cornell University 4-year, Private

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