Biology, General

Overview of Biology Program as a College Major

When most people think of biology, they think about the first time they had to dissect a frog. It’s one of the first introductions to the science of biology that a lot of young people receive. But biology offers so much more.

Biology provides you with a solid foundation in life science. It demonstrates how all life on earth is interdependent. And it teaches you about living systems of organisms and their individual structure, function, growth, origin, evolution and distribution. Because the scope of biology is so broad, most colleges and universities have narrowed their biology programs into specific areas of concentration such as genetics, ecology and microbiology.

As with any degree program you will need to fulfill certain basic core educational requirements along with biology- and science-specific courses that might include classes in physics, anatomy, plant biology and botany.

Biology Program Curriculum

As technological advances are made in the field of health care and sustainability, students who pursue careers in the life sciences are very much on the cutting edge when it comes to career choices. And while actual course work may differ from college campus to campus, if you pursue a degree in biology you will likely find yourself taking courses such as:

  • Physiology
  • Mathematics
  • Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Ecology
  • Zoology
  • Microbiology
  • Evolution
  • Entomology
  • Marine biology

Education Levels Available for a Biology Degree

If you are interested in the society we live in – families, communities, governments, and cultures – pursuing a degree in biology will provide you with an overall understanding of all living things and how they relate to their environment.

Though there are biology degrees at all education levels – Associate's degree, Bachelor's degree, Master's degree and Doctorate degree – your career aspirations will heavily influence which degree level is right for you. For instance, if research is your calling, plan on getting your PhD. On the other hand, a Bachelor or Master degree is usually sufficient for careers in teaching, health care and management. 

Skills Developed through Biology Degree Program

The skills of a scientist typically require you to have specific technical expertise in your field. However, in today’s job market that is not enough. You also need to have solid work-related skills that enable you to persevere when research becomes tedious or mundane. Important skills include:

  • Critical thinking, logic and data analysis
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Working knowledge of computers and a variety of computer programs
  • Keen ability to interpret laboratory data and formulate conclusions
  • Ability to present ideas both in writing and orally
  • Use of scientific methods and ability to explain its purpose in scientific investigations
  • Recognizing and constructing valid arguments using deductive and inductive reasoning
  • Concentrating for sustained periods and the patience to repeat an experiment
Where to Obtain a Biology Degree

Wherever your biology career takes you the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that employment of biological scientists should grow faster than average over the next few years – somewhere around 21%. That means a degree in biology is a good investment.

Currently on-campus options are your best bet as there are very few online college biology programs available. There are, however, online programs in related subjects such as health science and biological chemical engineering as well as certificate programs in pharmaceutical science.

Career Opportunities for Biology Majors

A biology degree is a great foundation for those who want to pursue careers in health care, forensics, scientific research and sustainability, just to name a few. Or perhaps you are interested in agriculture. As the annual Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference (ABIC) suggests, businesses and scientists are working together to develop innovative ways to advance agricultural biotechnology.

And according to the Ernst & Young report, “Lessons from change: A changing environment in life sciences,” life sciences is a growing field. Specifically, health care, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology buffeted the recent economic storm as our need for medical care continues to grow.

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