Las Vegas Schools with Life Sciences Degree Programs
Students interested in earning a life sciences degree have a few different institutional options to choose from in the Las Vegas area. This article looks at three schools, none more than 25 minutes from the city center, which offer degrees in biology and related fields of study. After descriptions of the programs, which are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels, there is a table containing important information a prospective student should consider, such as tuition, enrollment and graduation rates. The table displays the facts about each school in a format that makes it easy to compare them.
- The College of Southern Nevada (CSN) has the largest student population and offers an associate's degree in biological sciences. One of CSN's three campuses is just 11 miles from downtown. It also has several learning centers located throughout the Las Vegas area to accommodate its large student population.
- The University of Nevada - Las Vegas (UNLV) has a smaller student body, but offers life sciences students program choices through a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and master's and doctoral programs in biological sciences. This school is just three miles from downtown. In 2010 the U.S. News and World Report ranked UNLV as the 12th most popular university in the country by yield (which refers to the number of admitted students who actually enroll).
- Nevada State College (NSC) is the smallest of the three schools, though it offers biology students a bachelor's degree program and one minor program. NSC is one of the newest colleges in the state and is located in Henderson, about 21 miles from downtown Las Vegas.
Comparison of Schools
The following table provides an overview of facts about the schools that can help students find their best option.
|College of Southern Nevada||University of Nevada - Las Vegas||Nevada State College|
|School Type||4-year, public||4-year, public||4-year, public|
|Total Enrollment (2014)||35,943*||28,515*||3,555*|
|Campus Setting||Large city||Midsize city||Large city|
|Tuition & Fees Estimates (2015-2016)||$2,805 in-state; $9,450 out-of-state*||$6,943 in-state; $20,853 out-of-state*||$4,738 in-state; $15,423 out-of-state*|
|% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2013-2014)||72%*||88%*||89%*|
|Retention Rate (2013-2014)||N/A- Not reported||77% for full-time students; 53% for part-time students*||68% for full-time students; 40% for part-time students*|
|Undergraduate Graduation Rate (starting in 2008 and graduating within 6 years)||9% (15% transfer-out rate)*||39%*||14%*|
Source: *College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics
College of Southern Nevada
The College of Southern Nevada (CSN) is the state's largest and most ethnically diverse institution of higher learning. CSN's only life sciences degree program is its associate's degree in biological sciences, though the college does offer a few other associate's degree programs in closely related fields of study.
Associate of Science in Biological Sciences
CSN's Associate of Science degree with an emphasis in biological sciences is designed to provide students with a general foundation in biology. Most students use this degree to transfer to a 4-year university to earn a bachelor's degree in biology or a related field. The degree does not provide career training or direct entry into the professional field of biology. The program includes 60 total credits, 32 of which are general education courses. Degree-specific coursework includes introduction to modern biology, chemistry, physics and microbiology. Enrolled students also have the opportunity to participate in the 5-week 'Biomedical Exploration Workshop' during the summer, which includes guest lectures and field trips to medical facilities; it also helps students improve their laboratory skills and prepare for advanced science training.
University of Nevada - Las Vegas
Established in 1957, the University of Nevada - Las Vegas (UNLV) is an urban, research-based institution with over 3,000 faculty and staff members to accommodate its roughly 28,000 students. UNLV offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs with concentrations in a wide variety of biological studies through the university's School of Life Sciences. A 10-week summer research program in environmental microbiology, the 'Microbiology Research Experience for Undergraduates', is also open to all undergraduate biology majors interested in earning extra money, gaining professional research experience and increasing the breadth of their education. Though graduate students typically work at least one semester as a teaching assistant, the school attempts to support all students with teaching or research assistantships throughout the duration of their programs.
Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences
The undergraduate program in biological sciences offers students several concentrations to choose from, including biotechnology, cell and molecular biology, urban horticulture, ecology and evolutionary biology, integrative physiology and microbiology. Students can also specialize in biological education and pre-professional training. Prospective students interested in earning an advanced degree in a medical field at UNLV or Touro University have the opportunity to participate in four separate fast-track programs. All applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.0 in all previous coursework to be admitted to the biological sciences major, and must also maintain a 2.0 GPA throughout the program. In addition to general education courses, enrolled students are expected to complete core biology courses such as principles of life science, modern biology, genetics and evolution. Possible biology electives include human anatomy, ecology and zoology.
Master of Science in Biological Sciences
The master's degree program in biology offers students four concentrations to choose from, including cell and molecular biology, ecology and evolutionary biology, integrative physiology and microbiology. The program is research-based and intended to prepare students for a variety of biological science careers. Enrolled students are required to complete a minimum of 30 credits regardless of their chosen concentration. Students can expect to work as a teaching assistant for at least one semester. Successful applicants should have a GPA of 3.0 and be in the upper 50th percentile for all GRE scoring sections. Prospective students are also expected to identify and contact faculty members they wish to work with as part of the application process. Applications completed by January 15th will be given priority for graduate assistantships.
Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences
The doctoral degree program in biological sciences includes the same four concentrations as the master's degree, but is much more research intensive. The program is designed to prepare students for teaching and research jobs at universities or professional jobs in government or industry. All students are required to complete 60 credits of coursework, work as a teaching assistant for at least one semester and write at least one peer-reviewed scholarly article. The admissions requirements for the doctoral degree are the same as those listed above for the master's degree in biology. UNLV's graduate courses in biology include bacterial physiology, ethics in scientific research, astrobiology, advanced evolution and molecular biology techniques.
Nevada State College
Founded in 2002, NSC is a small, brand-new college with two campuses in the city of Henderson and a large variety of extracurricular activities to offer its students. NSC's small student body, with an average of 20 students per class, receives personalized instruction from the college's faculty. The School of Liberal Arts and Sciences houses the college's Department of Physical and Life Sciences, which offers a minor and two bachelor's degree programs in biology.
Minor in Biology
NSC's minor in biology program is designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of biology. The program consists of five classes for a total of 18 credits, including modern biology, molecular biology, genetics and evolution. Prospective students must complete the college's Math 128 (pre-calculus and trigonometry) or Math 181 (calculus) course before enrolling in the minor.
Bachelor of Science in Biology
The program consists of 120 total credits, 60 of which must be completed at a 4-year institution and at least 32 must be upper-division coursework. The program requires 33-43 core curriculum credits and 18-28 elective credits.
The core biology courses for the program include modern biology, evolution, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics and molecular biology. Graduates of the program can expect to be prepared for careers in biotechnology, biological research and the health sciences. Application procedures and requirements are very different for freshman and transfer students. Prospective students should visit the college's website to learn more.