Get Matched With Biology Colleges

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Biology is a natural science subject that focuses on the study of life and living organisms. The major is particularly ideal for prospective students eager to learn about plants, animals, fungi, and/or bacteria. As an incredibly expansive field, it consists of a wide variety of specializations that can lead to engaging and impactful career opportunities. In fact, research and development in every biology sub-discipline has the ability to influences the nation and world as a whole. Discoveries and advancements are regularly capable of changing the very way society functions.

Many colleges and universities offer master’s degrees in biology and other related subjects. Online biology programs are also becoming increasingly common, with opportunities to study from nearly anywhere with reliable internet access. Whether enrolled traditionally or remotely, students should anticipate concentrating their studies in a particular area. While employment is available across numerous industries, graduates are most likely to find work in healthcare, management, educational instruction, business, and the sciences.

Compare Popular Online Biology Programs

Master’s degrees are necessary to obtain many life, physical, and social science occupations in the United States. This is especially true for upper-level research and management positions. While individuals with less education are still likely to find entry-level work in the field, graduate school often leads to more career opportunities and higher pay.

Earning a biology master’s degree is not the best solution for everyone, however. Those deciding whether or not to pursue one of these programs should keep the following advantages and disadvantages in mind:

PROS

  • There are many reasons to pursue a master’s degree in biology, chief among them being the need to meet educational standards for top occupations in the field, to which a bachelor's degree cannot give you access. These programs are often necessary in order to achieve the most lucrative science careers. They may also serve as essential steppingstones for further advancement, with graduates eligible to enroll in related doctoral programs that can lead to some of the best-paying opportunities in various areas of specialization.
  • 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.
  • Notably, online degree programs offer unique benefits, as well. The ability to participate from nearly anywhere in the world with internet access provides distance learners with far more flexibility than traditional students. This is particularly helpful for those with personal and professional obligations that limit their ability to attend classes on campus. Additionally, some colleges and universities charge lower tuition and fee rates for those enrolled remotely.

CONS

  • While there are many advantages of pursing a biology master’s degree, there are also notable drawbacks. Students must invest a significant amount of time and money into this pursuit, beyond what is required for a bachelor's degree. While programs are often designed to be completed in approximately two years, meeting academic requirements can take longer. This is especially true for those enrolled part-time. Yearly graduate school tuition rates alto tend to be higher than those paid by undergraduate students. Attending Ivy League schools and private institutions can be prohibitively expensive.
  • There are also some potential drawbacks to pursuing online enrollment. Learning style differences can make studying remotely very difficult for some students. The lack of direct interaction with professors can also have a negative impact. Additionally, online degree programs often provide fewer opportunities to network with current and future professionals in the field.

Top 20 Best Online Masters in Biology Programs


1

Johns Hopkins University

Score: 89.26

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $60,480
    • Out-of-State: $60,480
  • Net Price: $24,034
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 94%
  • Total Enrollment: 31,275
  • Undergrad Students: 6,044
  • Graduate Students: 25,231
  • Grads Salary: $92,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 6:1
  • Johns Hopkins University
2

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Score: 84.42

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $14,891
    • Out-of-State: $29,176
  • Net Price: $14,544
  • Acceptance Rate: 45%
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 85%
  • Total Enrollment: 56,916
  • Undergrad Students: 35,120
  • Graduate Students: 21,796
  • Grads Salary: $81,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 21:1
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
3

Indiana University-Bloomington

Score: 76.91

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $10,033
    • Out-of-State: $31,932
  • Net Price: $16,234
  • Acceptance Rate: 82%
  • Retention Rate: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 81%
  • Total Enrollment: 47,005
  • Undergrad Students: 35,660
  • Graduate Students: 11,345
  • Grads Salary: $73,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • Indiana University-Bloomington
4

George Mason University

Score: 74.43

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $13,426
    • Out-of-State: $35,377
  • Net Price: $18,479
  • Acceptance Rate: 90%
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 71%
  • Total Enrollment: 39,049
  • Undergrad Students: 27,014
  • Graduate Students: 12,035
  • Grads Salary: $79,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • George Mason University
5

Clemson University

Score: 74.37

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $10,858
    • Out-of-State: $22,566
  • Net Price: $24,577
  • Acceptance Rate: 43%
  • Retention Rate: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 85%
  • Total Enrollment: 28,466
  • Undergrad Students: 22,566
  • Graduate Students: 5,900
  • Grads Salary: $73,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Clemson University
6

Arizona State University

Score: 73.87

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $12,014
    • Out-of-State: $24,498
  • 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
7

Mississippi State University

Score: 71.47

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $9,398
    • Out-of-State: $25,444
  • Net Price: $15,364
  • Acceptance Rate: 75%
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 63%
  • Total Enrollment: 22,649
  • Undergrad Students: 18,305
  • Graduate Students: 4,344
  • Grads Salary: $71,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Mississippi State University
8

University of Saint Joseph

Score: 69.79

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $14,850
    • Out-of-State: $14,850
  • Net Price: $25,860
  • Acceptance Rate: 75%
  • Retention Rate: 78%
  • Graduation Rate: 61%
  • Total Enrollment: 1,992
  • Undergrad Students: 831
  • Graduate Students: 1,161
  • Grads Salary: $84,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 8:1
  • University of Saint Joseph
9

Western Governors University

Score: 68.21

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $7,765
    • Out-of-State: $7,765
  • Net Price: $9,207
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 65%
  • Graduation Rate: 49%
  • Total Enrollment: 156,935
  • Undergrad Students: 112,807
  • Graduate Students: 44,128
  • Grads Salary: $77,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 42:1
  • Western Governors University
10

Indiana Wesleyan University

Score: 67.8

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $14,112
    • Out-of-State: $14,112
  • Net Price: $21,755
  • Acceptance Rate: 87%
  • Retention Rate: 78%
  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,603
  • Undergrad Students: 2,236
  • Graduate Students: 367
  • Grads Salary: $72,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Indiana Wesleyan University
11

Eastern Illinois University

Score: 67.66

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $7,691
    • Out-of-State: $18,458
  • Net Price: $13,380
  • Acceptance Rate: 68%
  • Retention Rate: 71%
  • Graduation Rate: 55%
  • Total Enrollment: 8,857
  • Undergrad Students: 6,916
  • Graduate Students: 1,941
  • Grads Salary: $65,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • Eastern Illinois University
12

Alcorn State University

Score: 67.39

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $8,174
    • Out-of-State: $8,174
  • Net Price: $14,864
  • Acceptance Rate: 30%
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,933
  • Undergrad Students: 2,431
  • Graduate Students: 502
  • Grads Salary: $65,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Alcorn State University
13

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Score: 66.01

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $6,216
    • Out-of-State: $13,656
  • Net Price: $16,564
  • Acceptance Rate: 86%
  • Retention Rate: 74%
  • Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Total Enrollment: 6,041
  • Undergrad Students: 4,269
  • Graduate Students: 1,772
  • Grads Salary: $68,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • University of Nebraska at Kearney
14

Minnesota State University Moorhead

Score: 65.64

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $10,292
    • Out-of-State: $10,292
  • Net Price: $17,939
  • Acceptance Rate: 57%
  • Retention Rate: 72%
  • Graduation Rate: 55%
  • Total Enrollment: 4,682
  • Undergrad Students: 3,729
  • Graduate Students: 953
  • Grads Salary: $67,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • Minnesota State University Moorhead
15

Indiana State University

Score: 64.82

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $7,884
    • Out-of-State: $15,498
  • Net Price: $12,688
  • Acceptance Rate: 92%
  • Retention Rate: 64%
  • Graduation Rate: 44%
  • Total Enrollment: 8,658
  • Undergrad Students: 6,965
  • Graduate Students: 1,693
  • Grads Salary: $69,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Indiana State University
16

University of Northern Colorado

Score: 64.55

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $11,628
    • Out-of-State: $21,762
  • Net Price: $18,310
  • Acceptance Rate: 79%
  • Retention Rate: 75%
  • Graduation Rate: 52%
  • Total Enrollment: 9,380
  • Undergrad Students: 6,728
  • Graduate Students: 2,652
  • Grads Salary: $68,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • University of Northern Colorado
17

Bemidji State University

Score: 64.5

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $8,909
    • Out-of-State: $8,909
  • Net Price: $15,561
  • Acceptance Rate: 78%
  • Retention Rate: 71%
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Total Enrollment: 4,023
  • Undergrad Students: 3,677
  • Graduate Students: 346
  • Grads Salary: $66,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Bemidji State University
18

Western Kentucky University

Score: 64.48

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $12,140
    • Out-of-State: $18,340
  • Net Price: $12,625
  • Acceptance Rate: 97%
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Graduation Rate: 51%
  • Total Enrollment: 16,493
  • Undergrad Students: 14,440
  • Graduate Students: 2,053
  • Grads Salary: $62,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Western Kentucky University
19

Texas A&M University-Commerce

Score: 63.31

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $3,630
    • Out-of-State: $10,974
  • Net Price: $13,025
  • Acceptance Rate: 86%
  • Retention Rate: 65%
  • Graduation Rate: 43%
  • Total Enrollment: 11,306
  • Undergrad Students: 7,383
  • Graduate Students: 3,923
  • Grads Salary: $67,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 20:1
  • Texas A&M University-Commerce
20

Nova Southeastern University

Score: 62.57

  • Graduate Tuition
    • In-State: $22,062
    • Out-of-State: $22,062
  • Net Price: $29,589
  • Acceptance Rate: 76%
  • Retention Rate: 78%
  • Graduation Rate: 62%
  • Total Enrollment: 20,948
  • Undergrad Students: 6,971
  • Graduate Students: 13,977
  • Grads Salary: $76,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • Nova Southeastern University

Overview of a Master's in Biology


What Biology Master’s Degrees are Available Online?


Specific degree titles in biology and other related topics vary by institution and area of specialization.

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

  • Master of Arts (MA):
    MA degrees typically incorporate some number of general humanities courses into the curriculum, along with biology courses. In order to provide a well-rounded education, these programs often explore various topics that may or may not be directly related to biology. An MA degree is typically most appropriate for individuals who plan to further their education by enrolling in doctorate programs.
  • Master of Science (MS):
    MS degree programs, on the other hand, focus almost exclusively on science and technical subjects, such as biology courses and similar scientific studies. Students spend much more time in laboratory settings receiving hands-on experience in the field. As biology is considered to be a STEM subject, most programs are designated as MS degrees. These programs are most appropriate for individuals who plan to seek employment after graduation, but may serve as good preparation for further study, as well.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Biology?


Online master’s in biology often consist of 30 to 45 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately two years to complete. Some colleges and universities also offer accelerated programs that require less time to finish.

Unlike undergraduate programs that are typically designed to provide students a broad introduction to the field, master-level degrees build on prior learning and examine key subjects in greater depth. Coursework is also more advanced. While these degrees are often designed to prepare students for employment, many are preparatory as well. This is especially true for individuals seeking to enter medical occupations, as further learning is often required.

Curriculum requirements vary by institution, but those enrolled can typically expect to learn about a wide variety of subjects related to life science. Instruction commonly covers microbiology, ecology, and physiology, as well as research techniques, important terminology, and writing strategies. Specific course requirements will vary depending on the area of study chosen, however.

Find Your Online Biology Program

Many colleges and universities allow graduate students studying biology to select concentrations. This allows those enrolled to customize their learning experiences by taking more classes in particular subfields or disciplines. Choosing a specialization is a great way to diversify instruction and prepare for a particular type of biology career.

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

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biostatistics
  • Environmental Science
  • Pharmacology
  • Microbiology
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology

It’s important to realize that not all academic institutions offer master’s degrees in biology that are 100% online. Hybrid programs are common. These typically consist of instruction and coursework that is primarily administered remotely, but require some attendance in person, as well.

Admission Requirements to Enter a Master’s Program


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

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

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Biology or a Related Subject
  • Minimum Overall Academic Grade Point Average (GPA)
  • Admissions Application
  • Application Fee
  • Admissions Essay
  • Letter(s) of Recommendation
  • Standardized Test Scores (GRE)
  • Previous Higher Education Transcripts (if applicable)

Notably, the admissions requirements for higher education institutions are the same for both online and traditional students. Distance learners adhere to identical enrollment standards despite attending classes remotely.

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


The majority of master’s degrees in biology consist of at least 30 credit hours of coursework. In most cases, programs of this length can be completed within two years with full-time enrollment. Those taking classes on a part-time basis, however, are likely to require additional time, making their overall commitment three to four years.

Notably, accelerated graduate programs also exist. While the same number of credits is typically required, these are often structured to promote quicker completion. Curriculums may be similar to traditional offerings, but coursework is condensed down into shorter periods. This allows students to take more classes throughout the year and often results in achieving graduation sooner.

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


Biology impacts many different industries. As a result, careers are available in a number of exciting sub-fields, each with their own unique employment standards and expectations. After identifying a preferred occupation, it’s important to research how much and what type of education, training, and experience is necessary.

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

  • Agricultural and Food Scientist
  • Biochemist
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Epidemiologist
  • Genetic Counselor
  • Geographer
  • Meteorologist
  • Microbiologist
  • Molecular Biologist
  • Pharmacist
  • Research Scientist
  • Soil and Plant Scientist
  • Wildlife Biologist
  • Zoologist
  • Agricultural and Food Specialist

    Agricultural and food specialists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products. They spend a lot of time conducting research and experiments and creating new food products. They may also study the composition of soil as it relates to plant growth. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, forensic science technicians make a median annual wage of $61,930 per year.

  • Epidemiologist

    Epidemiologists are public health workers who investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury. Through research, community education, and health policy, these professionals typically work to decrease the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes. They also commonly plan and direct studies, collect and analyze information, manage programs, supervise other professionals, write grant proposals, and communicate their findings. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, epidemiologists make a median annual wage of $78,830 per year.

  • Geographer

    Geographers study the earth and the distribution of its land, features, and inhabitants. They research the interactions between the physical aspects of a region and the human activities within it. These professionals often gather data through observations, surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Other responsibilities include creating maps, advise others using geographic data, and writing reports. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, geographers make a median annual wage of $85,220 per year.

  • Meteorologist

    Meteorologists study the weather and climate. They spend a lot of time compiling data, preparing reports and forecasts, and assisting in the development of new data collection instruments. These professionals may also be responsible for measuring atmospheric properties, using computer models to analyze data, writing computer programs to improve modeling efforts, conducting research, generating weather graphics, and reporting on current weather conditions. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, meteorologists make a median annual wage of $94,570 per year.

  • Microbiologist

    Microbiologists study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and sometimes parasites. They work to better understand how these various organisms live, grow, and interact with their environments. This generally entails planning and conducting complex research projects, as well as performing laboratory experiments. They may also supervise the work of biological technicians, identify microorganisms, review relevant literature, write technical reports, and present their research findings. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, microbiologists make a median annual wage of $79,260 per year.

Find Online Biology Programs

How to Choose the Right Program for You


When deciding which online master’s biology program 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, including some requiring a research project for graduation. Some of the most important features to keep in mind include the following.

  • Cost
    Depending on the program selected, earning an online master’s in biology can be quite expensive. Actual cost varies and may be impacted by school type, enrollment status, and residency. Notably, public colleges and universities tend to charge the lowest tuition rates. Private institutions, on the other hand, typically have higher rates because they do not receive supplemental funding from the government. Public schools do, however, charge out-of-state students more than those who qualify for residency rates. This may or may not apply to online students.
  • Graduation Rate
    While most students strive to complete graduate programs within two years, course difficulty, institutional retention issues, and personal conflicts can prevent this from occurring. Graduate rate refers to the number of students who complete their degrees within 150% of “normal time,” which is six years. This data is generally readily available and can be used to determine potential graduation timelines.
  • Admission Competitiveness
    It’s more difficult to be admitted to some colleges and universities than others. Academic institutions with well-known and popular programs may be particularly competitive. In most cases, it’s possible to find school acceptance rates online ahead of time. This information can help inform the decision to apply, as well as offering insight into the likeliness of enrollment. When applying to a competitive college or university, applicants should ensure they meet or exceed minimum application requirements.
  • Financial Aid Options
    Most colleges and universities provide some form of financial aid to those enrolled. The most common types of assistance include scholarships, grants, loans, and federally-funded work study. Prospective students can generally find the average yearly amount of aid awarded by institutions of interest online. It’s also common for schools to note how many of those enrolled qualify for financial assistance.
  • Location
    College and university location can greatly impact student cost, as well as overall academic experience. As previously mentioned, residency often influences tuition. Those who qualify for in-state rates typically pay less, while attending from out-of-state can be quite expensive. Additionally, personal preferences regarding the area should carry some weight when deciding which degree program is best.
  • Accreditation
    One of the most important elements to consider when choosing an online master’s degree in biology is institutional accreditation. Colleges and universities are not required to obtain accreditation, but it is an indication of academic excellence and standardization. In most cases, prospective students should give preference to regionally accredited higher education facilities, as these agencies are overseen by the US Department of Education and the Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
  • Internship Opportunities
    Many employers for biology professions require or give preference to candidates who have completed relevant internships. While colleges and universities often coordinate these opportunities for traditional students, this may or may not be the case for those enrolled in online programs. As a result, it’s important to verify whether the institution helps connect students with local companies and organizations prior to enrollment.
  • Support Services
    College and universities provide more than education. In most cases, there are numerous student support services available throughout campus. These include, but are not limited to, tutoring, career assistance, and IT support. While commonly offered to traditional enrollees, prospective distant learners should verify whether these benefits will be provided to them as well before applying.

Courses in Online Master’s Degree Programs


Curriculums for online master’s degrees in biology vary by institution, as well as the concentration area selected.

The following courses are common for general study of the field, but may not cover coursework required in various subfields:

  • Applied Recombinant DNA Technology
  • Bioinformatics and Systems Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Deep Sea Biology
  • Epigenetics, Epitranscriptomics, and Gene Regulation
  • Evolution
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Fundamentals of Sequence Analysis in Bioinformatics
  • Immunoassay Design and Development
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Introduction to Biochemistry
  • Introduction to Genomics
  • Introduction to Proteomics
  • Introductory Bioinformatics
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Neurobiology
  • Neurobiology of Pain
  • Oral Biology
  • Principles and Techniques of Molecular Biology
  • Principles of Genetics
  • Reproductive Biology
  • RNA Biology and Therapeutics
  • Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology

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