Overview of Best Science Degrees for the Future
There are a number of science-related degrees that would prepare and qualify students for careers in fields that are expected to experience a greater than average amount of job growth in the future. Many of these degrees are widely available at universities around the country and require that students complete similar coursework. Specific requirements will vary by degree. Below, we will discuss some of the best science degrees for the future in greater detail by exploring common courses in these programs, entrance and program requirements, and what types of careers will be available to students upon completion.
Bachelor's Degree in Biomedical Engineering
Students who are interested in both science and engineering may want to consider pursuing a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering. This degree would prepare students for a career as a biomedical engineer, a field which is expected to maintain steady job growth of 7% through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As the baby-boomer generation continues to age, biomedical engineers will be responsible for creating various types of medical devices that enable them to stay mobile and healthy. In this program, students will be required to take general science and mathematical courses, like chemistry and calculus, as well as biomedical engineering specific courses like biomedical measurements and fluid mechanics.
To gain admission into these programs, students will likely need to have taken some high school level advanced mathematics and science courses and may need a certain GPA, depending on how selective the program is. They will also need to fulfill the general university admission requirements by submitting an application, test scores, and high school transcripts. Once students complete this degree, they can pursue careers as biomedical engineers in the medical equipment manufacturing industry or in research and development, to name a few options.
Bachelor's Degree in Biology or Chemistry
Students who know that they want to pursue a science-related degree, but aren't yet certain what career they are interested in, may want to earn a degree in a science field like chemistry or biology. These degrees are very versatile, as they could prepare students for entry-level research positions immediately after graduation, while they also prepare students for continued education if they are interested in obtaining a master's or doctoral degree in an advanced science or professional field like medicine or dentistry. These fields are expected to experience favorable job growth through 2026, says the BLS, as dentistry is expected to grow by 17% and physicians and surgeons are expected to experience 15% job growth, both of which are much higher than the national average growth for all occupations of 7%. Students who are interested in pursuing a medical career may want to consider participating in a pre-dentistry or pre-medicine program if their undergraduate institution offers it.
Bachelor's degrees in chemistry and biology typically include both introductory and advanced courses in chemistry and biology, along with a few mathematics courses. To gain admission into these programs, students will need to fulfill the standard admission requirements at their school, which typically include submitting an application, SAT or ACT scores, high school transcripts, and letters of recommendation. Some programs may have additional entrance requirements, like demonstrated high performance in high school science courses.
Master's Degree in Physician Assistant Studies
Students who are interested in working in the medical field as healthcare providers but who do not want to attend medical school may be interested in enrolling in a master's degree program in physician assistant studies. These full-time, two-year, minimum, programs will prepare students for a career as a physician's assistant, which is a field that is expected to grow by 37% between 2016 and 2026, predicts the BLS. In these programs, students can expect to take courses in human physiology, clinical medicine, pharmacology, and evidence-based medicine. They will also be required to complete a number of clinical hours, where they will gain first-hand experience working in a medical facility like a hospital or clinic.
To gain admission into these programs, students will usually need to have a bachelor's degree and to have taken a number of prerequisite courses, like general and organic chemistry, human anatomy, psychology, and genetics, among others. Many programs also require that students already have some clinical experience before beginning the program.
Master's Degree in Speech Pathology
Another science-related degree option that would prepare students for the future is a master's degree in speech pathology. This master's degree prepares students for a career as a speech-language pathologist, which is a field the BLS expects will grow by 18% between 2016 and 2026. Speech-language pathologists work with individuals who have various types of communication and speech disorders. These master's degree programs will prepare students for this career by exposing them to relevant concepts and training through courses like speech sound disorders, evaluation and diagnosis, school-age and preschool disorders, and cognition.
Gaining admission to these programs can be competitive. Students will be expected to have a bachelor's degree and may be required to have taken some prerequisite courses like phonetics, language acquisition, and aural rehabilitation. In addition, students will usually have to submit the results from the GRE exam and may have to submit letters of recommendation.