Get Matched With Biology Colleges

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Many colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degree programs in biology and other related subjects, with option to study online becoming more and more common. A natural science, this major focuses on the investigation of living organisms in order to better understand how they function and interact with their surroundings. While anyone can choose to enroll in these biology programs online, they are particularly ideal for those interested in studying plants, animals, fungi, and/or bacteria. Graduates are often qualified for a wide variety of engaging and impactful career opportunities. Workers in this field can have a huge impact on the nation and world as a whole, with discoveries and advancements capable of changing the very way society functions.

Whether enrolled traditionally or remotely, students should anticipate concentrating their studies in a particular area of the field. Biology is expansive, with relevant knowledge and skills applicable across numerous careers. Some common examples include biochemical sciences, physiology, microbiology, and molecular biology. Those who study topics within this field may pursue various jobs, but many find work in healthcare, management, educational instruction, business, and the sciences.

It's important to realize that biology majors are often expected to complete several lab-based courses. Every college and university handles lab requirements differently for those enrolled remotely. While 100% online biology programs exist, many higher education institutions expect distance learners to attend at least some labs in person. As a result, prospective students should pay close attention to these expectations prior to applying.

Compare Popular Online Biology Programs

The majority of life, physical, and social science occupations available in the United States require candidates to possess bachelor’s degrees. While some entry-level positions are available to individuals with related associate degrees, these are relatively rare and tend to pay less. As you decide whether or not to pursue this type of degree, it’s important to keep these various advantages and disadvantages in mind.

PROS

  • There are many reasons to pursue a bachelor’s biology degree, or any related field. A key benefit, however, is that graduates with four-year degrees tend to make more money than those without them. In 2018, the US Department of Education reported that individuals ages 25 to 34 with bachelor’s degrees working full-time, year-round had median annual earnings of $54,700. This is more than what those with associate degrees, some college experience, high school diplomas, or less than high school completion. As a result, it's still financially reasonable to enroll in bachelor’s biology degree programs, despite the rising costs of attending college.
  • Life, physical, and social science professions, in particular, can pay quite well. The median annual wage for this group was $72,740 in May 2021. This is higher than the median annual wage of $45,760 for all occupations in the United States.
  • It’s also important to note that online biology programs offer unique benefits as well. Remote enrollment provides more flexibility for students, with the ability to participate from nearly anywhere with internet access. This is particularly helpful for those with personal and professional obligations that limit their ability to attend classes in person. In some cases, tuition and fee rates for virtual learning options are also lower than for traditional enrollment.

CONS

  • While there are many advantages to pursing a bachelor’s degree in biology, there are drawbacks, as well. A couple key concerns are time and money, both of which are required in order to complete these programs. Students must be prepared to dedicate at least four years to full-time academic study, with many taking even longer to meet graduation requirements. This is time that could otherwise be spent in the workforce, earning a salary. Attending college also necessitates a financial investment, which can be difficult for those without sufficient aid and support. Ivy League schools and private institutions, in particular, can be prohibitively expensive.
  • Additionally, there are some potential drawbacks to pursuing online enrollment. Not all students have the same learning styles, which can make distance learning programs more challenging for some. Certain individuals may also struggle attending classes and completing coursework on their own without a structured schedule. Furthermore, the lack of direct interaction with instructors can negatively impact overall learning and retention.
  • Yet another concern is that online degree programs often provide far fewer networking opportunities. Not only do students spend less time interacting with professors, but they have little chance to build relationships with their peers as well. Making connections with others in the field is usually a huge component of establishing a successful career.

Top 5 Best Online Bachelors in Biology


1

University of Florida-Online

Score: 92.59

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $3,876
    • Out-of-State: $16,579
  • Net Price: $10,791
  • Acceptance Rate: 65%
  • Retention Rate: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 79%
  • Total Enrollment: 5,356
  • Undergrad Students: 5,356
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $76,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 54:1
  • University of Florida-Online
2

Florida International University

Score: 89.56

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $6,565
    • Out-of-State: $18,963
  • Net Price: $9,881
  • Acceptance Rate: 64%
  • Retention Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • Total Enrollment: 55,609
  • Undergrad Students: 45,688
  • Graduate Students: 9,921
  • Grads Salary: $68,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 24:1
  • Florida International University
3

University of Arizona

Score: 85.77

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $13,275
    • Out-of-State: $39,577
  • Net Price: $17,075
  • Acceptance Rate: 87%
  • Retention Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 68%
  • Total Enrollment: 49,403
  • Undergrad Students: 38,751
  • Graduate Students: 10,652
  • Grads Salary: $78,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • University of Arizona
4

Arizona State University

Score: 84.94

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $11,618
    • Out-of-State: $30,592
  • Net Price: $14,808
  • Acceptance Rate: 90%
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Total Enrollment: 80,065
  • Undergrad Students: 65,492
  • Graduate Students: 14,573
  • Grads Salary: $75,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 19:1
  • Arizona State University
5

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Score: 84.62

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $7,896
    • Out-of-State: $22,032
  • Net Price: $9,450
  • Acceptance Rate: 65%
  • Retention Rate: 70%
  • Graduation Rate: 39%
  • Total Enrollment: 6,607
  • Undergrad Students: 5,636
  • Graduate Students: 971
  • Grads Salary: $78,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 11:1
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks

Associate Vs. Biology Bachelor's


In addition to bachelor’s degrees in biology, some colleges and universities offer academic certificate programs. These typically provide training in important fundamentals related to the whole field or specific concepts relevant to particular areas of study. Earning a certificate can take less time to complete than traditional four-year degrees, but there are several differences you should be aware of.

A bachelor’s biology program usually consists of both general liberal arts and major-specific coursework; in this case, core biology courses. Certificate programs, on the other hand, provide a much more focused examination of content. While they can take as little as a single year to complete, the instruction received is significantly less holistic in nature. As a result, they will not satisfy education requirements for many employment opportunities in the field.

It is worth noting, however, that certificate programs can be extremely beneficial to those seeking to concentrate their studies in a specific sub-field after earning degrees. Many colleges and universities offer certificates at the graduate level. These can be particularly useful as a means of differentiating oneself from other candidates when applying for employment.

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What Biology Bachelor’s Degrees are Available Online?


Specific degree titles in biology and other related topics can vary by institution. Curriculums are also unique, but generally include both general and major-specific classes. This means that students will likely study various topics in communication, mathematics, and the sciences in addition to their chosen field of study.

In most cases, prospective biology students can expect to find two primary types of degrees available:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
    Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree programs typically incorporate a large number of liberal arts courses. These include classes in humanities, social sciences, language, and the arts. Students usually receive a well-rounded education that functions as a strong foundation for future learning or work in a wide variety of topics. A BA degree in biology will be most appropriate for individuals seeking employment in law, healthcare, and education.
  • Bachelor of Science (BS)
    Bachelor of Science (BS) degree programs, on the other hand, place a stronger focus on topics in science, mathematics, and technology. Coursework is generally designed to prepare graduates for work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions. A BS degree in biology will be most appropriate for individuals seeking employment in science and research.
  • Best paying biology degree jobs

What Can You Expect from a Bachelors in Biology?


Online bachelor’s in biology often consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately four years to complete. Accelerated programs requiring less time may also be available at some colleges and universities. Additionally, those who already possess undergraduate credit from advanced placement (AP) classes or previous higher education enrollment can have their records transferred and applied toward new graduation requirements. This can often shorten the time needed to graduate from a bachelor’s online biology degree program.

As undergraduate programs, bachelor’s degrees in biology are typically designed to provide students a broad introduction to the field, as well as a strong academic foundation for future learning. Graduates are then equally prepared to pursue further education and/or professional employment.

Curriculum requirements vary by institution, but those enrolled can typically expect to complete between 40 and 60 credit hours of biology-related coursework. The remaining classes may be made up of electives and various general education topics necessary for a well-rounded education.

As previously mentioned, bachelor’s degree programs in biology also tend to require a significant amount of lab work. While some institutions may allow remote participation and/or offer other viable distance learning options, many still expect students to participate in person. This usually results in a hybrid program, in which most coursework is completed online but short residency periods on campus are still necessary.

Some colleges and universities also allow bachelor’s students to select concentrations. Concentrations allow those enrolled to customize their learning experiences by taking classes associated with a particular area of study within biology. This is a great way to specialize in a unique sub-field.

While concentration availability varies by institution, some common options include:

  • Biochemistry
  • Botany
  • Cell Biology
  • Computation Biology
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Biology
  • General Biology
  • Marine Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Neurobiology

Alternatively, those planning to pursue various medical careers may be able to select more appropriate concentrations. Many colleges and universities offer specialty coursework for pre-dentistry, pre-medicine, and pre-pharmacy.

Admission Requirements to Enter a BS in Biology


Bachelor’s degree candidates must complete various institutional requirements before enrolling.

These standards vary by institution, but often include some combination of the following:

  • High School Diploma or Equivalent or an Associates in Biology
  • Minimum Overall Academic Grade Point Average (GPA)
  • Admissions Application
  • Application Fee
  • Admissions Essay
  • Letter(s) of Recommendation
  • Standardized Test Scores (SAT or ACT)
  • Previous Higher Education Transcripts (if applicable)

It’s important to realize that these institutional admissions requirements will be the same for both online and traditional students. Despite attending classes remotely, distance learners must adhere to the same standards as all other students when enrolling.

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How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology Online?


Most bachelor’s degrees in biology consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately four years to complete. Accelerated programs may also be available at some colleges and universities. These can make it possible for students to earn degrees faster. Additionally, those with undergraduate credit from advanced placement (AP) classes or previous higher education enrollment may be able to graduate sooner.

While online enrollment does not typically result in faster graduation, some institutions offering distance learning programs do structure their curriculums to promote quicker completion. This may be done by condensing coursework into shorter periods or by allowing students to complete requirements at a self-paced rate, which can be faster than average. In these cases, it’s possible for remote learners to obtain degrees in biology in less time than generally expected.

What Can You Do with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology?


With so many potential career outcomes available to biology majors, it’s important to identify a preferred occupation as early as possible. Every profession has different education, training, and experience standards for job candidates. As a result, prospective professionals should consider their options carefully and research typical qualifications thoroughly before applying.

While specific job titles can differ, some of the most common career options for those with bachelor’s degrees in biology include:

  • Agricultural or Food Scientist
  • Biological Technician
  • Chemist
  • Conservation Scientist or Forester
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Forensic Science Technician
  • Geographer
  • Meteorologist
  • Microbiologist
  • Zoologist or Wildlife Biologist
  • Biological Technician
    Biological technicians help biological and medical scientists conduct laboratory tests and experiments. They often set up, maintain, and clean various instruments and equipment, as well as gathering and preparing biological samples. These professionals also analyze experimental data, help interpret results, document the work performed, and write reports that summarize the findings. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, biological technicians make a median annual wage of $48,140 per year.
  • Chemist
    Chemists research and analyze the chemical properties of substances to develop new materials, products, and/or knowledge. They spend a lot of time planning and carrying out various research projects, as well as directing technicians and other staff. They frequently prepare solutions, analyze substances, conduct tests, write technical reports, and present their research findings to others. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, chemists make a median annual wage of $79,430 per year.
  • Environmental Scientist
    Environmental scientists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. This often entails cleaning up polluted areas, advising policymakers, and/or working with industries to reduce waste, as well as collecting and compiling environmental data from samples. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental scientists make a median annual wage of $76,530 per year.
  • Forensic Science Technician
    Forensic science technicians aid criminal investigations by collecting and analyzing evidence. They typically specialize in either crime scene investigation or laboratory analysis. Responsibilities include taking photographs, making sketches, recording observations, collecting evidence, and cataloging findings. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, forensic science technicians make a median annual wage of $61,930 per year.
  • Zoologist and Wildlife Biologist
    Zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals and how they interact with their ecosystems. In most cases, this entails focusing primarily on undomesticated animals and their behaviors. They also examine and report on the impact that humans have on wildlife and various natural habitats throughout the world. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, zoologists and wildlife biologists make a median annual wage of $64,650 per year.

How Do I Choose the Right Biology Program


When deciding which online bachelor’s program in biology to pursue, there are several important factors that must be considered. Every college and university is unique, with their own admissions requirements and departmental curriculums.

Some of the most important features to consider include:

  • Cost
    Earning an online bachelor’s degree in biology is often a significant financial commitment. The actual cost can vary greatly from institution to institution, however. Factors that typically influence the amount paid are school type, enrollment status, and residency. Public colleges and universities, for example, usually charge lower tuition rates than private ones because they are supplemented by government funding. Students who are residents of the state where the school is located also tend to pay a lower rate than non-residents. Additionally, rates may be different for remote learners versus those attending classes in person. As a result, prospective students should take care when comparing options.
  • Graduation Rate
    An institution’s graduate rate refers to the number of students who complete their degree within 150% of “normal time”, or four years. While most students strive to complete bachelor’s programs within four years, the graduation rate includes anyone who has met requirements within six years of enrollment. This data is often available on school websites and can be used to project potential graduation timeframes. Notably, some colleges and universities have higher graduation rates than others. A low rating in this area can indicate course difficulty and/or retention problems and may serve as a deterrent for enrolling.
  • Financial Aid Options
    It’s common for colleges and universities to provide some financial aid to those enrolled. This assistive funding is usually in the form of scholarships, grants, loans, and federally-funded work study. Students must generally submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) during the admissions process in order to determine eligibility for various types of federal aid. It’s also important to consider the amount of financial assistance offered by the institution itself. Most schools post this information on their websites; at the very least, it’s worth investigating how many different institutional forms of aid are available.
  • Location
    The location of potential colleges and universities is another important factor to consider. While personal preferences regarding the area should carry some weight, a more significant aspect is often in-state versus out-of-state tuition differences. As previously mentioned, residency can greatly impact the cost of tuition at public institutions. Additionally, school location can impact employment opportunities after graduation. Academic institutions generally tailor their curriculums to meet employer standards and expectations in the surrounding area. They may also have established relationships with nearby companies and organizations, which can make obtaining internships and professional employment easier.
  • Accreditation
    The accreditation status of colleges and universities is one of the most vital elements to consider when choosing a biology degree program. While academic institutions are not required to obtain accreditation, it is a sign of academic excellence and standardization. School may be either regionally or nationally accredited, but only regional accrediting agencies are overseen by the US Department of Education and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
  • Continuing Education
    If you want to pursue a graduate program in biology at some point, you may also want to consider and research colleges that offer not only a biology undergraduate, but also a graduate program in biology as well.

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Sample Bachelors in Biology Courses


As previously mentioned, curriculums for bachelor’s degrees in biology vary by institution. Students can generally expect to take some combination of general education and biology-specific classes.

The following courses are commonly required and/or offered for majors in this field:

  • Biology
  • Biotechnology
  • Botany
  • Calculus
  • Evolution
  • General Chemistry
  • General Physics
  • Genetics
  • Human Anatomy
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physiology
  • Plant Science
  • Psychology
  • Sport and Exercise Science
  • Vertebrate Virology
  • Zoology

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