Biological Science Degree and Training Program Overviews

Oct 12, 2019

Essential Information

While a bachelor's degree is the minimum degree requirement for working in the field of biology in positions such as laboratory technician or urban planner, advanced degrees at the master's and Ph.D. levels are required for most research and teaching positions. Programs might offer internships, student teaching experiences, or apprenticeships.

There are various prerequisites associated with each education level. For a bachelor's degree, students must have a high school education. A master's will require the completion of a bachelor's degree in a related field, letters of reference, a personal statement essay, and satisfactory GRE scores. Doctorate degrees also specify a bachelor's related to biological science and the prerequisites of a master's program, and may also require a master's degree or completion of graduate-level coursework in calculus, organic chemistry, physics, genetics, and cell biology.

Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences

Biological sciences bachelor's degree programs cover numerous areas of natural science, including cellular and molecular biology, genetics, evolution, microbiology, and more. The curriculum consists of traditional coursework and a substantial amount of laboratory work where students learn to utilize laboratory equipment and conduct scientific experiments.

Most undergraduate biological sciences programs include coursework in hypothesis testing, plant and animal physiology, and conservation biology. Classes in chemistry, biology, human anatomy, and physics are usually included as well. Additional course topics include:

  • Organisms
  • Cell structure
  • Biodiversity
  • Population ecology
  • Microscopy
  • Genetics

Master of Science in Biological Science

This program is available with specialization areas like bioinformatics, biology teaching, molecular biology, and more. Graduate students learn scientific methods through lectures, seminars, laboratory coursework, and experience working in research facilities. By the end of the program, students are able to test hypothesis, analyze data, conduct experiments, and write scientific research papers.

Biological science courses cover a wide range of studies, from cellular, molecular, and population biology to quantitative research methods. Many programs are available with both a thesis and non-thesis option. Topics discussed in the program include:

  • Gene expression
  • Reproduction
  • Microbes
  • Extinction
  • Adaptation

Ph.D. in Biological Science

An interdisciplinary program, students may choose a subject area in which to focus their studies, such as genetics, neurobiology, biochemistry, or cellular biology. Doctorate students often attend seminars, work at research facilities, take comprehensive examinations and complete student teaching rotations. The program culminates in a doctoral dissertation where students are required to display mastery of their chosen field.

Ph.D. courses are research-oriented and include substantial studies in scientific methods and laboratory techniques. Courses may cover:

  • DNA
  • Neurosystems
  • Population growth
  • Energy flow
  • Cell division

Popular Career Options

While many students go on to pursue graduate studies, graduates of a bachelor's degree program can find jobs at research facilities, government agencies, and other settings. Some career options include:

  • Laboratory technician
  • Forester
  • Urban planner
  • Scientific journalist
  • Pharmaceutical sales

Graduates who hold master's degrees go on to work in the fields of medicine, conservation, botany, zoology, ecology, and more. Possible job titles include:

  • Laboratory manager
  • Research assistant
  • High school science teacher
  • Product development specialist
  • Health inspector

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Graduates of a Ph.D. program in the biological sciences are qualified for research jobs, such as those of a biochemist or biophysicist. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for these workers are expected to grow 6% from 2018 to 2028. The BLS also reported that biochemists and biophysicists held 30,400 jobs in 2018, earning a median annual salary of $93,280.

Education in biological science comes in the form of bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees, and offers many opportunities for specialization in different sciences. This type of education prepares graduates for several careers in a variety of fields, from research, academia, and laboratory work to urban planning, journalism, and pharmaceuticals.

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