List of Top Biological Science Schools in the U.S.

Students interested in biological sciences can find a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs at many top ranking universities. Learn about some of these top schools and their unique programs.

School Overview

Biological science, the study of living organisms, includes scientific fields such as ecology, botany, microbiology, biochemistry and aquatic biology. An undergraduate degree in biological sciences can prepare students who wish to attend a graduate program or attend medical school. Graduates of a doctoral program often specialize in a specific area of biological science; they can teach at the college level and perform scientific research. Read on to learn more about three top schools on opposite coasts that are highly ranked for their degrees in biological sciences per U.S. News & World Report; a list of other good schools for this discipline is also provided.

Stanford University in Stanford, California

School Highlight: Resources available to students include a marine research center, a biological preserve, the Falconer Biology Library and the Carnegie Department of Global Biology.

Stanford University's graduate biological sciences program tied for the number one ranking in 2014, per U.S. News & World Report.

Stanford offers a Bachelor of Science in Biology for students planning to attend medical, dental or veterinary school or a biological sciences graduate degree program. Students can opt for a general biology major or select a concentrated field of study. The concentrations include ecology and evolution, biochemistry and biophysics, microbes and immunity, molecular and cell biology, marine biology and neurobiology. Classes include cancer biology, conservation biology and developmental neurobiology.

The school's Ph.D. program in biology offers three concentrations: molecular, cellular, developmental and genetic biology; ecology, evolution and population biology; and integrative/organismal biology. All doctoral students must take a course in responsible research or ethics of ecology, depending on their concentration.

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

School Highlight: Centers and departments related to biological sciences at Harvard include a Stem Cell Institute, a Microbial Sciences Institute and the FAS Center for Systems Biology.

In 2014, Harvard University's Ph.D. program in biological and biomedical sciences was also tied for first on the list of best biological sciences graduate degree programs by U.S. News & World Report.

Students who enjoy biology can study nine fields of life science at the undergraduate level, and there are 12 broad doctoral degree options. Biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology are central study topics in the doctoral program offered through Harvard Medical School, but doctoral candidates may choose from multiple specialties. Another biological degree option is Harvard's Ph.D. in Biological Sciences in Public Health, which trains research scientists to apply biology for diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect large populations. Interdisciplinary study in this degree program includes nutritional biochemistry, immunology, cancer cell biology, metabolism and genetics.

Cornell University in Ithaca, New York

School Highlight: Students in the undergraduate biological sciences degree program are taught by a professors from the veterinary medicine and agriculture/life sciences departments as well as those in arts and sciences.

Cornell University's graduate program in biological sciences tied for 11th in 2014 for best biology graduate degree program by U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduates at Cornell can choose from 14 concentrations, including marine biology, insect biology, animal physiology and more. Undergraduates also have the opportunity to choose a pre-med track. The graduate school also offers a wide variety of degree programs ranging from a Ph.D. in computational biology to a M.S. or Ph.D. in evolutionary biology. Most graduate programs also offer concentrations within the program. For example, master's students studying evolutionary biology may also choose to focus their studies in ecological genetics, paleobiology, population biology or systematics.

Top Biological Sciences Schools

The following list provides additional top ranking schools with biological sciences programs.

  • Duke University in Durham, NC, is home to more than 45 faculty research labs in areas including ecology and population biology, organismal biology and behavior and developmental biology.
  • Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, offers bachelor's, master's, doctoral and post-doctoral studies in biological sciences, and has 27 research laboratories dedicated to this field.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology is located in Cambridge, and also tied for first for graduate biology degrees by U.S. News & World Report in 2014. The school has fifteen different research facilities.
  • Princeton University in Princeton, NJ, offers biology graduate degrees in one of four areas: Quantitative and Computational Biology; Ecology and Evolutionary Biology; Neuroscience; and Molecular Biology.
  • The University of Chicago in Illinois allows first and second year undergraduate students in biological sciences to avail themselves of fellowship programs.
  • Washington University in St. Louis, MO, has a student-to-faculty ratio in Washington University's Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences that is less than 2:1.
  • Yale University in New Haven, CT, offers a combined doctoral program in biological and biomedical sciences (BBS) that allows students to cross over into every department and the medical school for their studies.

There are a wide variety of biological sciences degrees and programs available across the country at top ranking institutions, including Stanford University and Harvard University. Each school offers distinct and unique programs to suit students' individual needs.

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