Students may enroll in online master's degree programs in biology or biological sciences through numerous public and private colleges and universities. Aspiring biology teachers can also pursue a biology education master's degree. To be considered for admission, applicants may need to have completed certain prerequisite courses.
Some programs are offered entirely online, while others combine online classes with a few on-campus attendance requirements. Students may attend class lectures live via the Internet, or they may be able to view them online at their convenience. Other forms of classroom participation may include video conferencing and online discussion boards. In addition, students may receive a lab kit in the mail in order to complete science experiments from their home. Ten of the largest schools offering online programs in biology are outlined below, along with a table including program and tuition information.
Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina offers an online Master of Biological Sciences degree designed for teachers. Class lectures are available 24 hours a day in topics like understanding the human body, scientific research and cellular processes. This program can be completed in five semesters, with two courses per term.
Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has an online Master of Science (M.S.) in molecular biology that uses a learning platform in a real-time virtual classroom environment. The program requires specific undergraduate coursework completion before consideration for admission. The program includes 30 credit hours of graduate courses with 18 required hours in the major and 15 credits at the 400 level. Six credits of research must also be completed in this program.
Mississippi State University
Mississippi State University in Mississippi offers a M.S. degree in general biology that is available entirely online, except for the final 10 day capstone course held on campus. This program is designed for high school teachers and students involved in education along with ecology, biotechnology, evolutionary biology or microbiology.
Texas A & M University - Commerce
Texas A & M University in Commerce, Texas has an online M.S. degree in biological sciences. The degree offers two, three, or four graduate courses each semester, with two offered in the summer. Some of the topics of study include ecological genetics, neuroscience, genetic analysis, epigenomics and physiology. Various independent study topics are also available with professors.
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona offers an M.S. in natural science degree program that was formerly titled the general biology program. This program is mostly online over summer semesters, and it is designed for teachers to complete master's degree coursework. The program meets a need for graduate education in science for teachers and applications are due by March 1 of each year. Some online courses offered include cell and molecular biology applications, ecological principles and genetics.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois houses an online M.S. in teaching of biological science. The fully online program is designed for teachers to earn graduate credits in biology and education, and to earn their M.S. degree on a schedule of five 8-week biology courses, and three education courses.
University of Nebraska at Kearney
The University of Nebraska's campus in Kearney, Nebraska offers an online M.S. in biology using the internet and a learning management system. Students may also use phone or video-conferencing, online discussion boards, e-mail and other forms of communication in their online studies. The program covers topics like biological research and statistics, organic evolution and current biological issues. Electives are chosen with an adviser and are also offered online.
University of Saint Joseph
The online biology M.S. degree program at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut is designed for non-traditional students needing flexible scheduling. The courses are offered online year-round throughout three semesters and the program can be completed within two years. The curriculum requirements include 24 biology credits in its 30 total graduate credits, and topics include areas like ecology, animal behavior, endocrinology, immunology, bacteriology and cell biology.
Western Governors University
The online Master of Arts (M.A.) in biological science degree at Western Governors University in Salt Lake City, Utah specializes in biology. The program prepares teachers to gain secondary certification and to teach high school biology. Students should expect to spend an average of 15 hours or more per week on studies, and they will complete 33 credit-equivalent competency units in areas of general science, biology and science education. A home science lab is also required and students receive a lab kit for home experiments.
Western Kentucky University
Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky houses an online M.S. degree program in biology that requires 33 total credit hours of study. Students must complete nine credit hours from core course topics like graduate research, biology and graduate research, along with 21 elective credit hours in topics like molecular genetics, ecology, immunology and toxicology. An additional research tool course is required with choices from areas like epidemiology, psychology, information technology, geographic systems and research methods.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Online Biology Programs Offered||Graduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Clemson University||4-year, public; large suburb||Master of Biological Sciences||$8,404 tuition, $816 fees per year in-state; $17,590 tuition, $816 fees per year out-of-state*|
|Lehigh University||4-year, private not-for-profit; small city||Master of Science in Molecular Biology||$24,840*|
|Mississippi State University||4-year, public; distant town||Master of Science in General Biology||$7,502 in-state; $20,142 tuition out-of-state*|
|Texas A & M University-Commerce||4-year, public; distant town||Master of Science in Biological Sciences||$3,630 tuition, $1,870 fees per year in-state; $10,650 tuition, $1,870 fees per year out-of-state*|
|University of Arizona||4-year, public; large city||Master of Science in Natural Science||$11,040 tuition, $1,008 fees per year in-state; $29,362 tuition, $1,008 fees per year out-of-state*|
|University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||4-year, public; small city||Master of Science in Teaching of Biological Science||$15,023 tuition, $3,018 fees per year in-state; $28,213 tuition, $2,886 fees per year out-of-state*|
|University of Nebraska at Kearney||4-year, public; distant town||Master of Science in Biology||$285.00 per credit hour in-state; $495.00 per credit hour out-of-state**|
|University of Saint Joseph||4-year, private, not-for-profit; small city||Master of Science in Biology||$17,160 tuition, $1,080 fees per year*|
|Western Governors University||4-year, private, not-for-profit; large suburb||Master of Arts in Biological Science||$6,500 tuition, $290 fees per year*|
|Western Kentucky University||4-year, public; small city||Master of Science in Biology||$10,860 tuition in-state; $15,260 tuition out-of-state*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator, **School Websites