Students in the life sciences study living organisms, including humans, plants and animals. There are many fields associated with the life sciences, such as biology, botany, zoology, anatomy, pathology, physiology, neurology, molecular biology, ophthalmology and microbiology. Earning degrees in any of the life sciences fields may prepare students for careers in such areas as research and development, conservation, education, veterinary sciences, ecology or medicine. In Minnesota, there are 14 colleges and universities offering programs under the life sciences category, and the ten largest schools' programs are reviewed below.
Bemidji State University
At the Bemidji campus of this university, there are at least seven undergraduate majors related to the life sciences, including biology and science education. Biology students learn about genetics, introductory biology and general ecology, but they also must complete biology electives and finish a capstone project, which may include advanced laboratory experiments or research. The science education program allows students to specialize in life sciences, and courses for this specialty area include genetics, microbiology, aquatic plants and organic evolution. Graduate students interested in the life sciences may consider pursuing master's degree programs in either biology or environmental studies. Graduates in the biology program must complete several advanced laboratory projects and fieldwork. Environmental studies students must choose one of six concentration areas, such as ecology.
Central Lakes College - Brainerd
There are three life sciences programs at this college in Brainerd, including associate degree programs in biology and horticulture and a certificate in environmental studies. Courses in biology discuss general biology, human biology, nutrition, environmental biology, ecology and microbiology. The horticulture program is designed as a vocational degree program, but students will still learn about indoor flowering and foliage plants, general plant science, arboriculture and pest management. Environmental studies is a multidisciplinary program, but life sciences courses within this program include environmental biology and ecology.
Metropolitan State University
Located in St. Paul, this school offers three related undergraduate degree programs, including a bachelor's degree program in life sciences education and two separate bachelor's degree programs in biology. The life sciences education program prepares students for teaching grades 5-12, and classes within the program may include biology, astronomy, chemistry, physics, ecology, genetics and molecular biology. Note that students pursuing educator licensure in the state of Minnesota may have to complete additional professional training courses. Biology students can choose to pursue a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree; the difference between these degree programs is that students must complete 64 credits for the BS and only 49 credits for the BA. Core biology courses may include general biology, ecology, cells, living organisms and laboratory studies.
Minnesota State University - Moorhead
There are seven undergraduate programs related to the life sciences at this school in Moorhead, including such areas as biochemistry and biotechnology, life sciences education, medical laboratory science and biology. Biochemistry and biotechnology students have the option of choosing the molecular biology emphasis, which covers such topics as chemistry, molecular biology, biochemistry, biotechniques research, genetics and cell biology. The life sciences education program requires students to take courses in ecology, microbiology, plant physiology, teaching methodology and biological research, plus students have to take an additional 36 units of courses to meet state educator licensure requirements. Students interested in the medical laboratory science program will participate in clinical training sessions as well as attend lectures about cell biology, genetics, medical microbiology, human physiology and immunobiology. Students in the biology bachelor's degree program can select the health and medical sciences emphasis, which includes classes in human anatomy, microbiology and human physiology.
Minnesota State University - Mankato
There are roughly 14 undergraduate programs related to the life sciences at this school in Mankato, including a program in pre-veterinary medicine, pre-medicine and food science technology. Both of the pre-professional programs are designed to help students prepare for graduate studies by meeting common prerequisite requirements. Courses in the pre-veterinary medicine program include biology, biochemistry, genetics, animal physiology and microbiology. Pre-medicine students are required to take a minimum of chemistry, biology, physics and mathematics, but it is also recommended that they complete several electives in biology. The bachelor's degree program in food science technology includes several courses in microbiology, food microbiology, human physiology and general biology. Graduate life sciences students can pursue programs in such areas as aging studies or biology.
Saint Cloud State University
Students interested in the life sciences at this school in Saint Cloud can choose from 14 undergraduate programs and four graduate programs. Of the undergraduate programs available, some options include bachelor's degree programs in biomedical science or medical laboratory science. Required courses for the biomedical science major include microbiology, pathophysiology, cell biology and genetics. Medical laboratory science students receive training in such areas as hematology, immunology, microscopy and microbiology. Two life sciences master's degree programs to consider include applied clinical research or biological sciences. Students in the applied clinical research program will learn about pathophysiology, biostatistics, research and evidence-based medicine. The biological sciences program allows students to focus their training by choosing concentration areas, such as the field of cell and molecular biology.
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
At the Winona campus of this university, undergraduate students can choose from ten different programs associated with the life sciences, including bachelor's degree programs in such areas as biology pre-cytotechnology, life sciences education, biochemistry or biology pre-physical therapy. Since these four programs are associated with the biology department, nearly all of them require students to complete core biology classes, which may include botany, microbiology, genetics, zoology, cell biology and physiology. Most courses require students to complete laboratory hours in conjunction with course lectures. The biology pre-cytotechnology program requires students to complete 32 unit hours of clinical training. Students in the life sciences education program will have to complete additional education coursework to meet Minnesota state licensure requirements.
Southwest Minnesota State University
Located in Marshall, undergraduate students interested in the life sciences can choose one of the seven related pre-professional programs, or they can pursue one of three degree options in biology. Bachelor's degree program options in this field include biology, biology education or biology-medical laboratory science. All three programs require students to complete the biology core classes, which include a mixture of lectures and laboratory hours, and courses may discuss such topics as cell biology, ecology, botany, genetics and zoology. Students in the biology-medical laboratory science program have to complete a 12-month clinical internship in conjunction with 34 units of coursework, including classes in urine analysis, microbiology, coagulation and bodily fluids. Students in the biology education degree program will have to complete additional professional education training courses to become a licensed educator in the state of Minnesota.
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Situated in the urban metropolis of Minneapolis, this university has a multitude of life sciences program options, including 14 bachelor's degree programs, 26 master's degree programs and 23 doctorate degree programs. Undergraduate students may consider such programs as the bachelor's degree program in fisheries and wildlife, which includes courses in fisheries and wildlife ecology, vertebrae conservation, genetics, wildlife handling, important plants for fisheries and zoology. The bachelor's degree program in ecology, evolution and behavior is another life sciences program to consider, and courses in this program discuss such topics as animal biology, plant biology, microbiology, biochemistry, evolution and ecology. Life sciences graduate students may choose to pursue a master's degree program in entomology or a doctorate degree program in plant biological sciences. Special areas of study in the field of entomology include integrated pest management, biological control and insect conservation. Plant biological sciences course topics discuss systematic and evolutionary biology, subcellular plant studies, plant biology and fieldwork protocols.
Winona State University
Students can choose from 16 undergraduate degree programs related to the life sciences at this school in Winona, including biology degree programs with concentration options in such areas as cell and molecular, ecology, life sciences teaching and environmental science. Biology majors are required to choose a concentration option as part of earning their degree, and students must also complete core biology classes, including organism diversity, genetics, cell biology and general ecology. Courses in the cell and molecular concentration discuss biochemistry, animal cell culture, immunology and plant tissue culture. Students in the ecology concentration learn about vertebrae biology, plant taxonomy, animal behavior and plant ecology. The life sciences teaching concentration requires students to complete a course in environmental biology, nine credits of related electives, coursework in chemistry, 38 credits of professional education training and a life sciences capstone project. Classes for the environmental science concentration may include invertebrate zoology, environmental biology and plant taxonomy, plus, students in this concentration must complete an additional 54-55 credits of coursework in such areas as science, mathematics, chemistry and physics.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Life Sciences Degrees Offered||Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)|
|Bemidji State University||4-year, public; remote town|| Bachelor Science in Biology,
Bachelor of Science in Science Education with a life sciences specialty,
Master of Science in Biology,
Master of Science in Environmental Studies with a concentration in ecology
|$8,366 (undergraduate), $7,992 (graduate)*|
|Central Lakes College - Brainerd||2-year, public; remote town|| Associate of Arts in Biology,
Environmental Studies Certificate,
Associate of Applied Science in Horticulture
|Metropolitan State University||4-year, public; large city|| Bachelor of Arts in Biology,
Bachelor of Science in Biology,
Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences Teaching
| $7,566 (in-state undergraduate),
$14,394 (out-of-state undergraduate),
$7,854 (in-state graduate),
$15,038 (out-of-state graduate)*
|Minnesota State University - Moorhead||4-year, public; midsize suburb|| Bachelor of Arts in Biology with an emphasis in health and medical sciences,
Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Biotechnology with an emphasis in biochemistry and molecular biology,
Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences Education,
Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science
| $8,096 (in-state undergraduate),
$15,232 (out-of-state undergraduate),
$7,194 (in-state graduate),
$13,674 (out-of-state graduate)*
|Minnesota State University - Mankato||4-year, public; small city|| Pre-Medicine Undergraduate Program,
Pre-Veterinary Medicine Undergraduate Program,
Bachelor of Science in Food Science Technology,
Master of Science in Aging Studies,
Master of Science in Biology
| $7,8361 (in-state undergraduate),
$15,580 (out-of-state undergraduate),
|Saint Cloud State University||4-year, public; small city|| Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences,
Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science,
Master of Science in Applied Clinical Research,
Master of Science in Biological Science with a Concentration in Cell and Molecular Biology
| $7,814 (in-state undergraduate),
$15,732 (out-of-state undergraduate),
$8,191 (in-state graduate),
$12,019 (out-of-state graduate)*
|Saint Mary's University of Minnesota||4-year, private; distant town|| Bachelor of Arts in Biology Pre-Cytotechnology,
Bachelor of Arts in Life Sciences Education,
Bachelor of Arts in Biochemistry,
Bachelor of Arts in Biology - Pre-Physical Therapy
| $31,335 (undergraduate),
|Southwest Minnesota State University||4-year, public; remote town|| Bachelor of Arts in Biology,
Bachelor of Science in Biology Education,
Bachelor of Arts in Biology - Medical Laboratory Science
| $8,326 (undergraduate),
|University of Minnesota - Twin Cities||4-year, public; large city|| Bachelor of Science in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior,
Bachelor of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife,
Master of Science in Entomology,
Doctor of Philosophy in Plant Biological Sciences
| $13,790 (in-state undergraduate),
$22,210 (out-of-state undergraduate),
$17,289 (in-state graduate),
$25,953 (out-of-state graduate)*
|Winona State University||4-year, public; distant town|| Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in life sciences teaching,
Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in cell and molecular,
Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in ecology,
Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in environmental science
| $9,047 (in-state undergraduate),
$14,744 (out-of-state undergraduate),
$7,440 (in-state graduate),
$10,840 (out-of-state graduate)*
Sources: *NCES College Navigator.