Online Biology Degree Programs

Program Levels, Degree Timelines and Biology Student Resources

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Online biology degree programs range from two-year associate degrees to advanced graduate degrees. A biology degree can lead to various fields of study and careers, depending on the level of education and credentials students are most interested in pursuing. Biology program graduates can work in healthcare or agriculture, research animals or humans or plants, and even specialize in endangered animals or habitat conservation. The information below can help students curious about how online biology degree options can help them build a foundation for a successful future.

Best Online Biology Degrees for 2016

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Below are some of the best accredited online biology programs available, sortable by factors such as cost and graduation rate. There are many online degree programs out there for students looking for a high-quality education that suits their time and budget, so determining a personal baseline is a good idea while keeping in mind the factors used to rank the programs below.

Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % Total Programs Student-teacher Ratio Grad Rate
1 East Mississippi Community College 99.80 79% 37 12:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth22
  • # Online Programs27
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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2 Moultrie Technical College 98.55 97% 31 14:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth12
  • # Online Programs6
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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3 Pitt Community College 98.17 73% 61 17:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth18
  • # Online Programs18
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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4 Central Georgia Technical College 97.86 79% 72 15:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth26
  • # Online Programs6
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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5 Maysville Community and Technical College 97.60 75% 29 11:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth11
  • # Online Programs10
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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6 Columbus Technical College 97.21 85% 89 18:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth22
  • # Online Programs3
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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7 East Tennessee State University 97.04 76% 62 18:1 41%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth23
  • # Online Programs28
  • Acceptance Rate92%
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8 Northwest Mississippi Community College 96.97 77% 55 23:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth28
  • # Online Programs4
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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9 University of Wyoming 96.91 70% 56 15:1 54%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth22
  • # Online Programs4
  • Acceptance Rate98%
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10 University of Southern Indiana 96.60 74% 34 17:1 36%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth17
  • # Online Programs12
  • Acceptance Rate71%
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11 Kansas City Kansas Community College 96.57 63% 24 13:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth11
  • # Online Programs6
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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12 Hopkinsville Community College 96.57 83% 36 19:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth8
  • # Online Programs15
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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13 Ashland Community and Technical College 96.42 76% 45 14:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth8
  • # Online Programs12
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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14 Stanly Community College 96.40 73% 20 15:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth7
  • # Online Programs6
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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15 Duquesne University 96.34 95% 79 13:1 74%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth24
  • # Online Programs16
  • Acceptance Rate73%
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16 Crowder College 96.34 68% 28 15:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth8
  • # Online Programs12
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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17 Bluegrass Community and Technical College 96.30 65% 48 16:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth15
  • # Online Programs9
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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18 University of St Francis 96.29 86% 33 11:1 56%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth16
  • # Online Programs18
  • Acceptance Rate51%
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19 Siena Heights University 96.29 73% 64 11:1 43%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth20
  • # Online Programs41
  • Acceptance Rate74%
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20 Missouri Southern State University 96.17 73% 24 18:1 33%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth12
  • # Online Programs8
  • Acceptance Rate96%
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21 Guilford Technical Community College 96.17 70% 39 20:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth15
  • # Online Programs4
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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22 Tulsa Community College 96.16 67% 67 17:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth29
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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23 Davenport University 96.15 85% 52 14:1 4%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth12
  • # Online Programs34
  • Acceptance Rate93%
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24 University of Central Florida 96.08 72% 59 31:1 65%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth16
  • # Online Programs16
  • Acceptance Rate50%
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25 Youngstown State University 96.06 72% 106 15:1 32%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth30
  • # Online Programs15
  • Acceptance Rate83%
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26 Western Carolina University 96.05 66% 32 16:1 48%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth14
  • # Online Programs9
  • Acceptance Rate43%
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27 Sinclair College 96.00 57% 70 15:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth29
  • # Online Programs6
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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28 Roane State Community College 95.99 82% 27 16:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth12
  • # Online Programs1
  • Acceptance Rate99%
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29 Northwestern Oklahoma State University 95.93 81% 3 14:1 31%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth3
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate66%
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30 Jefferson Community and Technical College 95.93 63% 85 16:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth15
  • # Online Programs13
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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31 University of Idaho 95.88 76% 40 17:1 56%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth20
  • # Online Programs3
  • Acceptance Rate67%
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32 North Carolina Central University 95.87 80% 19 15:1 43%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth11
  • # Online Programs2
  • Acceptance Rate43%
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33 McNeese State University 95.84 70% 24 21:1 38%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth13
  • # Online Programs10
  • Acceptance Rate75%
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34 Olney Central College 95.84 91% 18 14:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth9
  • # Online Programs6
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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35 Cedar Crest College 95.83 90% 44 10:1 61%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth25
  • # Online Programs6
  • Acceptance Rate52%
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36 Texas A & M University-Texarkana 95.83 83% 7 15:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth5
  • # Online Programs4
  • Acceptance Rate48%
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37 Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University 95.81 75% 49 15:1 4%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth13
  • # Online Programs6
  • Acceptance Rate49%
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38 National Park College 95.81 71% 53 26:1 N/A

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth12
  • # Online Programs11
  • Acceptance RateN/A
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39 Drexel University 95.80 78% 230 10:1 65%

  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Program Breadth49
  • # Online Programs56
  • Acceptance Rate76%
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Search Online Biology Degree Programs

In researching online biology degrees, students may struggle to find unbiased comparisons between colleges. This search tool is an easy way for students to sort programs based on student population, location, acceptance rate and type of institution.

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Acceptance Rate Student Population School Type Online Biology Programs

Online Biology Degree Timelines

Although some programs are available entirely online, most online biology schools use a blended format that combines distance learning with field and on-campus lab experiences. Many students who pursue an associate degree plan to eventually transfer to a four-year program in biology or pre-medicine. Bachelor’s degree programs explore the processes and methodologies necessary for measuring complex environmental or physiological systems. Graduate programs apply quantitative and qualitative methods to field and laboratory studies. Learn more about each below.

Associate Degree in Biology

In addition to providing standard core courses in English and mathematics, an associate degree in in biological science allows students to take a variety of elective courses related to the field. Associate degree programs may include a comprehensive hands-on component, with field and lab experiences.

Application Process

In addition to providing high-school transcripts or a GED certificate, applicants to associate degree programs may have to take a placement test to determine what level of classes they should take in their studies.

Year 1 Milestones

Programs may require students to complete general education requirements prior to admission to an associate level biology program. If not, students will take these classes during their first year of study before beginning biology, chemistry and physics course requirements.

Year 2 Milestones

Students take classes that focus specifically on biology later in an associate program, once they have completed required courses. Some students choose to take liberal arts requirements throughout their program instead of taking them all at once in the first few semesters. An academic advisor can help map out a course of study.

Graduation Requirements

Students will need to complete all required courses with a minimum grade point average in order to graduate. There may be exams, final essays or lab work standards to complete for each course that contribute towards a final grade.

Bachelor’s Degree in Biology

For a traditional four-year undergraduate degree program, online biology students must complete a combination of general education and laboratory courses in cellular and molecular biology, ecology and chemistry. Students collaborate to solve scientific problems using online tools such as email, discussion boards, phone, video conferencing and other media while completing field work in their local area. Many students have already earned an associate and return to earn their bachelor’s degree, and may go on to a master’s or even a PhD.

Application Process

Bachelor’s level biology applicants need to submit high school transcripts or a GED equivalent in addition to SAT or ACT scores, have access to places that will allow them to fulfill field or lab work requirements, and complete all additional application forms for their specific program.

Year 1 Milestones

Students may have to complete general education requirements prior to biology program admission. If not, they will take basic writing, research and social science courses during their first year of study and begin completing science course requirements ranging from chemistry to physics.

Year 2 Milestones

Early bachelor’s level biology courses teach basic safety and scientific method requirements, as well as research and writing techniques specific to the field of biology. As an online program progresses, students will take more advanced field and lab work classes. They will also need to fulfill prerequisite classes to take more advanced biology courses in the future.

Year 3 Milestones

Courses narrow in focus and students may choose different paths of study to pursue within the field of biology or science. These areas can range from cell and molecular biology to ecology, evolution, human anatomy, or a focus on nature sciences, flora or fauna.

Year 4 Milestones

Students finish course requirements in their field of study and ensure they have completed all biology-related program requirements, if applicable. Generally, students earning below a C- in any course will have to retake the class in order to earn credit.

Graduation Requirements

Students must hold a minimum grade point average and complete their bachelor’s level biology coursework to the satisfaction of their instructors. They must demonstrate through the cumulative work in the program that they have learned and applied principles of biology.

Master’s Degree in Biology

Biology students in an online master’s program concentrate on the research methods applied to both field and lab studies. Some online master’s programs in biology require students to develop a research proposal and defend a thesis. Online biology degree programs typically take a minimum of two years to complete, with specialized coursework in research methodologies and various health and science specializations, such as microbiology or neurobiology.

Application Process

In addition to a completed bachelor’s degree and an official transcript, applicants must have sufficient experience in their chosen specialization in biology, meet minimum grade point average and GRE score requirements, submit three letters of recommendation and a personal statement on their interests and relevant experience, and find a faculty advisor within the program.

Year 1 Milestones

Biology doctoral students should complete any research and writing seminars required for their program and begin to study for the final oral exam. For those wishing to specialize in a particular area, they should complete all basic biology coursework so they can focus on their specialization in the second year.

Year 2 Milestones

Online students should work with an advisor to schedule their final exam and complete either specialized coursework or the general biology research courses. They must pass an exam as well; oral exams may be required to be completed in-person or possibly via video conferencing.

Graduation Requirements

To graduate, master’s students must pass their comprehensive exam and complete all biology coursework. They also must have some biology research experience that they will present in an oral format, though they may not need to complete a full thesis in order to graduate.

PhD in Biology

An online biology PhD incorporates a challenging curriculum with in-depth research projects. Students work independently in the development and implementation of research as they organize their culminating final project, or dissertation. Required dissertations describe the design and results of an individual set of scientific experiments. PhD candidates present their dissertations and research findings in a seminar format and may also be required to pass an exam.

Application Process

Depending on the length of the program, applicants may only need to provide transcripts proving they have earned a bachelor’s level biology degree, and a certain amount of field experience. Shorter programs require a master’s degree in biology as well as experience in the applicant’s field of study. Applicants must also have GRE scores within a certain percentile, submit three letters of recommendation and a personal statement and find a mentor within the program’s faculty.

Year 1 Milestones

There may be a standard introductory seminar that doctoral students must complete to demonstrate their basic knowledge of researching and writing in biology. They should begin completing basic courses and prerequisites for specialized classes, and remain in contact with their advisor to plan a course of study.

Year 2 Milestones

Programs may have field or lab experience requirements that online PhD students must complete in-person for certain specializations. Students should have all of their basic coursework completed by the end of this year so that they can focus on studying for a final exam and begin working on their dissertation.

Year 3 Milestones

Doctoral biology students will take a comprehensive exam in addition to working on their final dissertation. Performance on this exam will affect a student’s ability to graduate. They will complete research and writing of their original thesis, and prepare to defend it orally to a committee of academic experts.

Graduation Requirements

Online PhD programs require students to complete coursework that covers the major principles of biology in addition to researching, writing and defending their original thesis. Biology coursework requirements may be fulfilled previously through a master’s program or may be completed in the PhD program. There may also be language requirements that students must complete.

What to Do with Various Degrees in Biology

Biology courses teach students to ask questions, judge evidence and solve problems, all important skills that can be applied to many health or scientific industries. Online biology schools can prepare graduates for a spectrum of careers in biochemistry and biotechnology, animal sciences, microbiology, food sciences and technology, forestry, conservation, natural sciences and zoology. Alternatives for biologists may include genetic engineering, pharmaceutical development and agricultural science. Below are a few of the many choices available to biology degree program graduates.

Options for Degrees in Biology
Animal Scientist

Professionals in this field research domestic farm animals. They work to develop more efficient ways of producing milk, wool and other products and investigate aspects of animal genetics, developing tactics to breed animals so that their offspring have no birth defects. They also advise farmers on proper animal housing and nutrition, and on how to control disease.

Degree Level Required

Associate

Mean Annual Wage

$73,400

Growth Potential

5%

Soil and Plant Scientist

These scientists research breeding, physiology, production, yield and management of crops. They may also study other agricultural plants or trees, shrubs and nursery stock, their growth in soils and control of pests. Other professionals in this field study the chemical, physical, biological and mineralogical composition of soils as they relate to plant or crop growth.

Degree Level Required

Associate

Mean Annual Wage

$65,980

Growth Potential

5%

Natural Sciences Manager

Natural sciences managers oversee research and development projects based on goals and strategies developed with executives. They may be put in charge of hiring decisions as well as budgets and supply orders, and they also provide technical assistance as they monitor project progress in the life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics or statistics.

Degree Level Required

Bachelor’s and 5 years experience

Mean Annual Wage

$135,570

Growth Potential

3%

Zoologist and Wildlife Biologist

These professionals research the origins, behavior, diseases, genetics, and life processes of animals and wildlife. They collect and analyze biological data to determine how current and future use of land and water resources can impact the environment as well as the fauna that live in these habitats.

Degree Level Required

Bachelor’s

Mean Annual Wage

$64,230

Growth Potential

4%

Microbiologists

Microbiologists study microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi and some parasites. They work in laboratories and offices, conducting experiments to try and understand how these organisms live and grow in their environments. Professionals in academia may run their own labs and experiments, relying on grants for funding. Other microbiologists may work for private companies.

Degree Level Required

Master’s

Mean Annual Wage

$67,550

Growth Potential

4%

Epidemiologist

Epidemiologists work in the public health field, investigating the patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans. Fieldworkers are well-trained in order to minimize the risk of infection when working with patients or samples. Epidemiologists seek to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes through research, community education and health policy.

Degree Level Required

Master’s

Mean Annual Wage

$69,450

Growth Potential

6%

Biochemist and Biophysicist

These scientists study the chemical composition or physical principles of living cells and organisms. Professionals in this field may conduct research to further understand the complex chemical combinations and reactions involved in metabolism, reproduction, growth, and heredity, and often cover new, uncharted territory within their specialization. They may also work determining the effects of foods, drugs, serums, hormones and other substances.

Degree Level Required

PHD

Mean Annual Wage

$89,470

Growth Potential

8%

Biology Professor

Biology professors teach courses in the biological sciences at colleges and universities. Professors may be primarily engaged in teaching, or they may do a combination of teaching and research. They may have papers published and conduct experiments using university funding and external resources.

Degree Level Required

PHD

Mean Annual Wage

$86,830

Growth Potential

13%

Skills Learned in an Online Biology Degree Program

PhD in Biology

  • Scholars and independent researchers

    The in-depth, largely self-motivated nature of online biology doctoral degree programs prepares students to apply biology principles and advanced analytical and experimental techniques to explore new areas of biological research.

  • Specialization

    Doctoral degree programs in biology provide in-depth studies in areas of biology that may include cellular and molecular biology, bacteriology, neurobiology, marine biotechnology and microbiology.

  • Leadership contributions

    By teaching students research and process biology skills, online PhD programs in biology enable graduates to contribute and serve in key roles in advancing their chosen field of biological study.

Master’s in Biology

  • Variety and specialization

    Coursework exposes students to a range of fields and specializations within biology, and prepares them to pursue many different career paths related to health and science, including genetics, forensic science, ecology, biochemistry and anatomy.

  • Well-rounded curriculum

    Ideally, an online master’s program in biology will also provide extensive work in the basics of biological study and research. Students may also choose an area of focus, but the research experience they receive from this degree program can apply to any specialization within the field of biology.

  • Outside engagement

    Online master’s degree programs prepare students for field and lab work, and bring them into contact with current biological and environmental issues. Programs may teach biology as an interdisciplinary study, as it can engage with many areas of the world as an applied science.

Bachelor’s Degree in Biology

  • Life science basis

    Because a bachelor’s degree in biology is a broad examination of basic scientific principles, graduates often have a great deal of interdisciplinary experience in the life sciences as they relate to the environment or other aspects of the natural world. There may also be opportunities to specialize in areas such as law, wildlife, journalism and management.

  • Basic career preparation

    Some programs are designed to prepare graduates to teach biology at the middle- or high-school level. Other specializations prepare graduates for work in government or business fields related to biology, health or other natural sciences.

  • Further education

    An online bachelor’s degree in biology can lead graduates directly into a career, but the basic research and laboratory skills learned through these programs can also apply towards further education in biology and other natural sciences or history with an emphasis on scientific, biological or natural history.

Associate Degree in Biology

  • Scientific method

    Students in online associate degree programs learn the basics of the scientific method and working within its framework. This gives their work credibility and ensures that if they work alone or with a team of people, they will have a standard starting place for any experimental work.

  • Critical analysis and research skills

    Because an associate degree is the equivalent of the first two years of a bachelor’s degree, students in these programs learn the basics of research and scientific study in biology. The ability to analyze results and consider implications will be invaluable in future career or education pursuits.

  • Further education

    Online associate degree programs in biology not only prepare graduates for entry level work, but also to continue on to a higher degree path. Accredited programs have credit hours and class experiences that will transfer to continued undergraduate degrees, either in biology or in medical or science-related fields such as nursing or pre-med.

Spotlight Interview

Name: Mandy B. Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in Biology Mode: Online
What was the top benefit of distance learning at your college?

The biggest benefit of attending an online biology school is that I can take on a full courseload without going to campus, while working regular hours. I have taken about half of my coursework online, and I truly believe I got a great education no matter where I was learning. These classes make it possible to get an education from anywhere, whether it is at a coffee shop or while waiting at an airport for a business trip. Not to mention it removes the stress of missing a class in the event of a family emergency.

How important was technology in your online program and courses?

Technology played a huge role. I could read the textbook anytime and take quizzes on the material when I had a chance after work, errands and other obligations. And I never needed to buy any expensive programs. As long as I had Internet access and basic Microsoft programs like Word and PowerPoint, I was good to go.

How does your online program help prepare you for a career after graduation?

I think online classes help develop time management skills and encourages a person to be responsible about their commitments. Keeping track of assignment due dates is essential to succeeding in these distance learning courses. It really does force you to be organized and make the best use of your time. It is good job training, because these are the traits employers look for.

Additional Resources

Biology is a wide-ranging field and students pursuing online degrees or online program graduates at any degree level can find many different resources that can help narrow down a field of interest or expand horizons. Below are some major organizations that examine different aspects of the field of biology.

American Institute of Biological Sciences

This group supports researchers, educators, and scientists with education resources, public policy management, peer reviews of scientific applications, programs, scientific literature publishing, and public outreach programs.

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

As a nonprofit scientific and educational organization, the ASBMB works to advance biochemistry and molecular biology through publications, scientific meetings, education and research advocacy, educational support, and diversity promotion.

Association of Applied Biologists

With publications, conferences, and different groups within the AAB that represent biological studies from applied mycology to virology, this association encourages research, development, and dissemination of key aspects of applied biology by creating conditions where members can act and pursue activities in responsible, sustainable ways.

The Wildlife Society

This is a networking organization seeks to inspire, encourage, and support wildlife professionals in their science-based conservation efforts. They provide networking opportunities and professional and career development.