Biology Degree Information
In simple terms, biology is the study of life. In more complex terms, an online biology degree enables students to understand what life truly is, how it is formed, how it develops and how it is affected by its environment. Biologists help us understand who we are from a biological perspective. Biologists go on to become laboratory researchers, doctors of internal medicine, heart surgeons, brain surgeons, geneticists, chemists, pharmacists, botanists, veterinarians and more. Biology is at the heart of every medical and health advance that is ever made. Unsurprisingly, the career options after studying biology is as wide-ranging as the topic itself.
The first step to pursuing a career in biology career will be to earn an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in biology. A Bachelor of Arts in Biology will entail a course of study that will probably include areas such as cell biology, anatomy, plant biology and animal biology. To obtain the degree, you may also be required to take courses in mathematics and other sciences such as chemistry and physics, as all of these sciences are interconnected in some way. If you plan to advance in the field of biology, you will certainly be expected to have grounding in some advanced mathematics and chemistry. An associate degree in biology is typically only useful for working in assistant positions in research facilities or laboratories. While most associate degree programs in this field take two years to complete, credits can in most cases be transferred to a full bachelor’s degree later. Because of how highly competitive the job market is, a bachelor’s degree is now commonly seen as necessary for entry-level positions in the field of biology.
While a bachelor's degree is a great foundation for a future in biological sciences, it is usually a springboard to a higher degree involving more specialized skills. What you can do in biology will depend on how much education in the field you choose to amass.
Master of Science
The Master of Science in Biology will usually require a focus on a specific aspect of biology, rather than the discipline as a whole. Interested students may consider pursuing master's degrees in areas such as molecular biology, biochemistry, botany or microbiology. Completing a master’s degree typically takes two years and may include a research or capstone project.
Those obtaining doctorates in biology will be at the cutting edge of life science and technology. Those with doctorates in biology may go on to become geneticists, to run hospitals, to pursue medical degrees or to do research. They may create life saving drugs or techniques to improve health or longevity. Earning a doctoral degree in biology will take a concerted effort. A great deal of time and energy will be needed. Several years of study at an accredited university or college plus intensive research will be necessary in order to obtain the degree.
Choosing a Degree
Individuals who excelled in math and science in high school may well wish to turn to biology as a major at their college or university. Students interested in becoming doctors, nurses or medical technicians, or who are interested in medical or pharmaceutical research are advised to consider biology as their major.
Many of those who graduate with biology degrees become doctors, using their degree as a springboard to medical school where they build on what they have learned in biology. For those who wish to use their skills outside of the arena of human health, veterinary medicine and botany are possibilities. Other ways to apply biological knowledge include work as a medical technician, pharmacist or pharmacologist. Some may choose to teach biology at the university level and there are a number of opportunities to assist others with learning biology in the university system. Still others may devote their efforts to biological research, searching for cures to the diseases that plague mankind and trying to find ways to increase the healthy lifespan of humans. Biologists are typically hired by teaching institutions and governmental agencies, although employers can be as diverse as zoos, aquaria, private foundations and environmental consulting firms.
Biological scientists earned a median hourly wage of $36.13 during 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This translates to a median annual wage of $75,150, although those in the op 90% earn upwards of $112,000 per year. Biological Technicians earn about $41,650 per year, while Biology science teachers have annual wages of about $75,320. Biology degrees can be the basis for careers in other disciplines, such as medicine, pharmaceutical research and genetics, areas where practitioners can earn well into the six figures in annual salary.
Getting Your Degree Online
The path to a career in biology can be a long one, which is why many people may choose to pursue their bachelors, masters or doctoral degree in biology online through an accredited distance learning program. These programs may be the best way for someone who already has work or family obligations to start down the path to the career they want. Students can take their biology classes on their own terms, using the Internet to participate in classes at home on their own schedule. In some cases, intensive online learning programs enable students to get their biology degree sooner than they might in a brick and mortar institution.
Getting Your Degree Offline
While the benefits of a top online education are clear, there are many advantages to earning your biology degree at a traditional college or university as well. Biology research requires a lot of laboratory work, and attending an institution that has a well-equipped laboratory can seriously enhance your learning process. Meeting and interacting with professors and other students who share your interest in the science of biology can help as well.
If you feel that you could benefit from attending a physical university, there is no shortage of biology programs to choose from and there is no time to waste. Look into a variety of biology programs until you find the one that's right for you and get started on the path towards your biology-based career.
Biology Degree FAQs
What Are the Educational Requirements for a Career in Biology?
Earned from an online accredited biology school, a career in biology is most likely going to require a bachelor's degree. Testing and inspection or research assistant positions will suffice with a bachelor's degree, but master's degrees are preferable for many research-related positions.
Some jobs require a doctorate, especially if it deals with independent research or running experiments for a company or government agency. Many students study biology and go on to nursing school or medical school, which has a completely new set of requirements. Students who are still in high school should consider classes in mathematics, biology and chemistry in order to prepare for careers in biology.
Who Is an Ideal Candidate for Online Biology Classes?
Students who earn a biology degree will learn how to perform experiments and hone their research skills, but biologists must be able to work in groups and by themselves on their own projects. They also must pay extreme attention to detail and be in good physical condition to conduct field research. In addition, analytical and logical skills are essential, as are communication and quantitative skills. Good biologists are critical thinkers and love solving problems. Of course, being inquisitive is also a common trait amongst those interested in this field.
What Can I Do with a Biology Degree?
Biology degrees will lead to a career as a biologist, but this broad subject has many other possible job choices. Some choose to attend graduate school and specialize in a particular field of biology, such as biochemistry, bioengineering, microbiology, zoology, biophysics, biotechnology, wildlife biology, genetic engineering and more.
Others go on to nursing school or medical school. Teaching biology is another option, along with venturing into other fields such as nutrition, forensic science and business.
What Is the Job Outlook for Biology?
The demand for biologists will continue to grow about as fast as the average for other jobs. Competition for research jobs and higher paying biological scientist position will be more intense, but overall, a biology degree will lead to a job in research and development. As mentioned earlier, many biology degree holders choose to pursue other careers, such as becoming a doctor or teacher.
Why Would Someone Take Online Biology Classes?
While you may want to earn a degree or take biology classes, you may feel that you do not have the time or resources to invest in an education right now. Online classes in biology can help you earn a degree and keep your current schedule.
Some classes may be difficult to complete online, especially if they require lab work, but other basic classes for biology can be completed at home. Always double check that the classes you take at an online school are accredited so you have the option of transferring to another program later.
Biology Student Guide
Biology, the science of life, is one of the cornerstones of scientific study. A wide variety of disciplines, including organic chemistry, pharmacology, anatomy and even botany require a solid grounding in biological principles. Since biology is such an important scientific discipline, students must put in a great deal of research and study in order to be successful. Fortunately, there are many resources in the field of biology that students can take advantage of.
Biology textbooks range from the very basic to the immensely complicated. When you pursue a biology degree, your classroom instructor will direct you to the biology texts you will need, which will be accessible from your school library or bookstore. Additional biology texts can be found online and some can be read in their entirety directly through the Internet.
Biology Articles And Databases
Biology articles are some of the most widely produced and read in the scientific community. Scientists in a number of fields, even those not directly associated with biology, consistently read the latest research in biology in order to stay on top of current trends and see what advances may have been made that could be relevant to their own work. Some good databases which provide up-to-date biology articles include the NLM Gateway Search (Gateway.nlm.nih.gov/gw/Cmd), MedlinePlus (MedlinePlus.com) and the Center for Disease Control Index (CDC.gov).
Biology Online Journals
There are myriad biology journals on all different subject areas within biology. The biology databases will help you locate the journals that are specifically geared towards your biology study needs. Some online biology journals you may consider include the Journal of Biology, Chemistry & Biology Online and PLoS Biology.
Other Biology Research Tools
The National Institutes of Health, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, is a good tool for biology information and research. In particular, the National Library of Medicine is an expansive resource for biology journals, articles and other biology information.