Many biology academic programs are not offered online due to the emphasis on hands-on lab work. However, some universities and private distance learning schools have developed online master's and bachelor's degrees in this field of study. Students may also find degrees in the natural sciences, biology teacher education or wildlife and fisheries that contain online biology coursework. Programs may be completed online using textbooks and at-home lab kits available for purchase from schools; however, some programs may require on-campus lab work.
Students interested in undergraduate education may not have to meet admission requirements beyond a high school diploma or its equivalent along with placement test scores. Master's degree programs require applicants to have a bachelor's degree that includes a major or significant coursework in biology. Online biology degree programs are usually not designed to provide science foundations for veterinary or medical careers; they may instead be more fitting for those desiring to work in education or non-clinical positions.
Master's Degree in Biology
An online biology graduate program offers students comprehensive instruction in the theories and concepts of biology. Many biology master's degrees available through distance learning programs use online educational services, such as Blackboard, to organize assignments and course material. Students keep in touch with professors and teaching assistants by communicating through video conferencing, email and instant messaging.
Online biology master's degree programs generally require students to complete a research-based thesis conducted under the supervision of a faculty adviser. All assignments and lectures in an online graduate biology program may be completed on a student's own time. It typically takes around two years of full-time study to earn this degree.
Any student interested in earning a master's degree in biology from an online program must study such diverse topics as evolution, climate change and ecological diversity. Students are expected to possess a reasonable understanding of chemistry, physics and mathematics. Online master's degrees in biology will include the study of genetics, plant taxonomy and pathology. Traditional coursework in an online biology graduate program might include studies of the following:
- Insect biodiversity
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Bachelor's Degree in Biology
Totally online bachelor's programs in biology aren't widely available, but do exist. They typically offer a broad education in biology and the sciences that could be applicable for non-clinical careers or as a foundation for graduate study. For those interested in nature and animals, online wildlife and fisheries programs exist as well.
Students enrolled in the online bachelor's degree in wildlife and fisheries are generally required to complete biology labs at a university's physical campus. Some online programs offering degrees in this field have students appear on-campus a few times annually to meet with degree counselors. Biology teacher education programs may contain fully-online courses but require supervised student teaching sessions at a public school.
Along with general education coursework, online biology students typically study a number or areas within the natural sciences. Programs designed to prepare students for teaching may include education topics. Some programs give students flexibility with choosing biology-related electives to allow them to study their particular interest. Programs may conclude with a capstone course requiring research. Common courses available to online students include the following:
- Principles of biology
- Cell biology
Distance learners in wildlife and fisheries programs usually study biology, ecology, wildlife and fishery management and environmental regulations. Teacher education programs may include coursework in biology principles, science teaching methods and content knowledge in biology.
Although not commonly available, there are some biology bachelor's and master's degree programs available online. These programs offer increased flexibility to the student and explore subjects such as principles of biology, genetics and biodiversity.