Human Biology Degree Program Overviews

Oct 12, 2019

Essential Information

Human biology programs focus on physical characteristics, composition and gross anatomy of the human body. Bachelor's degree programs give students a foundational knowledge of biology principles, along with general education courses in subjects such as English composition and mathematics. Master's programs build on this information and emphasize advanced study and research in specialized areas.

Degrees in human biology are precursors to training programs in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy or physician assistance. However, there are some careers open to graduates who have earned only a human biology degree. Candidates for the bachelor's program should have a high school diploma or GED containing biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics courses.

Applicants for master's degree programs must have first completed an undergraduate degree in biology, anthropology, or a similarly-related scientific field. Prior coursework in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, statistics, physiology, anatomy and physical anthropology is highly recommended. Prospective students also submit a personal statement, resume, and letters of recommendation.

Bachelor's Degrees in Human Biology

Bachelor's degree programs in human biology teach students about the biological mechanisms at work in the human body and provide a multidimensional perspective on the human condition. Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology degree programs are available to prepare students to pursue a wide variety of career or continuing education paths. Several specializations are offered, such as human health and disease, human environment and ecology, human growth and development, health and health policy, anthropology, psychology, biomedical science and evolution.

The interdisciplinary bachelor's degree program in human biology contains coursework from the biological, chemical and physical science departments as well as extensive mathematics, anthropology and psychology courses. Common courses include:

  • Fundamentals of biology
  • Basic chemistry
  • Human sexuality
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Physical anthropology
  • Epidemiology

Master of Science in Human Biology

Since an undergraduate degree is a minimum requirement for most professional school programs, master's degree programs in human biology are scarce, though some exist to help students improve their credentials. Master of Science in Human Biology degree programs provide an in-depth study of the human anatomy and the biological sciences. Concentrations are offered including anatomy and physiology, human variation and adaptation, bioarchaeology, skeletal biology and dental anthropology. Conversely, human biology is sometimes formatted as a concentration within a school's master's degree program in biology. Certain schools emphasize the anthropological aspects of human biology and feature a study of osteology, fossils, and archaeological methods.

In addition to advanced biological and anthropological coursework, master's degree students complete a thesis project providing original research experience. Some schools offer a non-thesis track option, but those interested in continuing into a Ph.D. program are advised to complete a thesis project. Coursework includes:

  • Gross anatomy of the human body
  • Physiology of humans and genetics
  • Current issues in evolutionary biology
  • Human physical and behavioral variation
  • The human skeletal system
  • Biological research techniques

Popular Career Options

Earning a bachelor's degree in human biology is an important first step towards many health-related careers involving medicine, physical therapy and dentistry. The degree program is broad enough to also be appropriate for careers in the fields of research and development, business management and animal care. Specific careers available to graduates include:

  • Clinical laboratory technician
  • Forensic science technician
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturer
  • Food safety expert
  • Fish and game warden

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists biological scientists among biochemists and biophysicists. From 2018-2028, the BLS projected that these workers would see an 6% growth in employment. The median annual wages for biochemists and biophysicists was $79,590 in May 2018.

Continuing Education

Graduates of an undergraduate degree in human biology choose to move on to graduate study or a professional school to refine and hone their skills for a specific career. The coursework provided by a human biology degree program prepares students for medical school, dental school or pharmacy school. This is a necessary road to becoming a doctor, surgeon, dentist, pharmacist or physician's assistant.

Many graduates of a master's degree program in human biology go on to medical school or work towards a Ph.D. in Anthropology. Doctoral degrees in anthropology generally cover cultural, linguistic and physical anthropology as well as archaeology, and students select one area in which to focus their studies. Graduates of a master's degree program in human biology are best suited to working in the field of physical anthropology. Earning a Ph.D. allows graduates to conduct independent research or teach at the postsecondary level.

Human biology programs are offered at the bachelor's and master's degree levels. Students in the bachelor's degree program will study biological, chemical, and physical science, while graduate students will focus on biological science and human anatomy.

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