Biology Grad Schools with Program Information

Graduate schools (or 'grad schools') offer master's and doctoral degree programs in general biology and related fields, like plant sciences, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, molecular biology and developmental biology.

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The field of biology is extremely large and encompasses areas such as developmental and molecular biology, neuroscience, microbiology, botany and other areas. A student's chosen level of study will reflect their career intentions, as a Ph.D. in Biology is generally required for conducting independent research.

Top 10 Graduate Biology Schools

These are the top 10 graduate biology schools as listed by US News, with average graduate tuition provided by the National Center Education Statistics using data from the last academic year:

College/University Location Institution Type Graduate Tuition (2015-2016)*
Harvard University Boston, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit $42,874
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit $49,272 per year
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, private not-for-profit $46,320
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, public $13,431 in-state, $28,533 out-of-state
California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA 4-year, private not-for-profit $45,390
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 4-year, private not-for-profit $50,510
University of California - San Francisco San Francisco, CA 4-year, public $12,445 in-state, $27,557 out-of-state
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, private not-for-profit $38,700
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 4-year, private not-for-profit $45,350
Scripps Research Institute La Jolla, CA 4-year, private not-for-profit Tuition is $5,000 per year but graduate students have their tuition waived.

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics and school websites

School Selection Criteria

There are a number of things that students who want to study biology at the graduate level should consider when deciding on a school. These include:

  • Graduate school candidates should target only those schools that offer biology concentrations applicable to their intended careers.
  • Potential students should consider the research interests of the professors at each university, so that they can secure opportunities to participate in labs.
  • Location is another important consideration for marine biology grad school students, who would benefit from attending a university that offers research facilities located next to a major body of water such as the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean.
  • Aspiring conservation biologists should search for schools that have links with conservationist organizations relevant to their interests, as these may provide opportunities to gain specific hands-on experience that is unavailable elsewhere.

Master's Degree in Biology

A master's degree program in biology can be completed in two years. The completion of thesis is recommended for students who plan to continue their study at the doctoral degree level. A prospective student can choose to enroll in a general biology degree program or choose a specialty area. A non-thesis master's degree in biology requires a student to complete a number of extra courses, and is typically pursued by individuals who do not wish to pursue a Ph.D.

Doctoral Degree in Biology

Doctoral candidates are required to conduct research in an area of interest and write a dissertation. Once the dissertation is complete and has been successfully defended, a student is awarded the doctorate in biology. However, before a student begins research, he or she must complete a set of core courses and develop a research proposal for approval. Core Ph.D. in Biology courses can include topics such as immunology, molecular biology, ecology and animal physiology.

Financial aid for Ph.D. programs is available through teaching and research assistantships. This financial support covers major expenses and allows a student to focus on researching and writing a dissertation. Support also exists for students enrolled in a Master of Science in Biology program, but may not be as extensive. Partial scholarships and tuition waivers are available for students who have excellent academic records.

Prospective biology graduate students must first decide between completing a master's or doctoral degree program, which will be relevant to their career prospects. Master's degree holders will have the option of teaching at a community college, while Ph.D. graduates are more likely to teach at a major university.

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