Earning an Online Biology Bachelor's Degree

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Updated November 3, 2022

A bachelor's in biology can lead to exciting career opportunities. Here, we list the top programs available.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of environmental scientists and specialists will grow by 11% through 2026. In addition, the median environmental scientist earned $69,400 in 2017, which is roughly $30,000 more than the national median salary for all workers.

To take advantage of these and other lucrative opportunities in the life sciences, you need at least a bachelor's in a field like biology. This page provides an overview of online biology degrees, including admission requirements, curricula, accreditation standards, and potential career paths.

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

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. 

Best Online Biology Degrees

OUR METHODOLOGY +

To be considered for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria: Accredited at the institutional level Private nonprofit or public school Minimum of 1 online bachelor's or master's degree in subject area Minimum of 1 online associate degree or certificate program in subject area for 2-year schools Schools were then scored on factors such as: Cost & Financial Aid Number and variety of program offerings Student-teacher ratios Graduation rates Placement and support services offered Academic/Career counseling services Employment services Loan default rates These factors were assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost. PBV denotes the overall value or "bang for your buck" of a college or degree program.

An online biology degree can set graduates up for a career in a wide range of fields, depending on the specific area of study, and degrees can range from two-year programs to the master's level and beyond. A degree in the field allows professionals to grow into a higher-level career and command a higher salary within their job. But finding a quality program in the field can be a challenge if you don't know what to look for. We've done some of the research for you and compiled our list of best colleges for biology majors in 2019.

#1 Earning an Online Biology Bachelor’s Degree

Siena Heights University

  • Adrian, MI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Located in Adrian, Michigan, Siena Heights University's academic offerings include online undergraduate programs. At the bachelor's level, the institution offers 39 online programs, including a bachelor's in biology. The school's distance learning options help students complete a college degree.

After earning a bachelor's degree, graduates can pursue advanced roles in their field or apply to master's programs. Asynchronous online programs allow students to complete coursework and view recorded lectures at their convenience.

Currently, 32% of the college's programs offer an online option. At the accredited private institution, virtual programs meet the same high academic standards as on-campus programs.

Siena Heights University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: Data not available

Total Bachelor's Programs: 112

Online Bachelor's Programs: 4

Undergraduate Tuition Rate: $26,558

Average Financial Aid Award: Data not available

Accepts Transfer Credits: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$26,558
Out-of-state
$26,558
Retention Rate
68%
Admission Rate
73%
Students Enrolled
2,337
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 Earning an Online Biology Bachelor’s Degree

University of Florida

  • Gainesville, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students can pursue University of Florida's online programs without relocating to Gainesville. The institution's academic offerings include a total of 19 online bachelor's programs. By saving money on transportation and housing, online students can often focus on long-term financial investments, such as a home or retirement.

Graduates with a bachelor of arts in biology can use their degree to enter a new industry or to pursue advanced leadership roles in their current field. The flexibility of online programs allows students to maintain full-time employment while earning their degree.

The school delivers 16% of all programs in a virtual format. The public institution maintains accreditation, which ensures that employers recognize the degrees and credentials it confers.

University of Florida at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 24,310

Total Bachelor's Programs: 102

Online Bachelor's Programs: 42

Undergraduate Tuition Rate: $25,694

Average Financial Aid Award: $10,673

Accepts Transfer Credits: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,477
Out-of-state
$25,694
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
37%
Students Enrolled
52,407
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Earning an Online Biology Bachelor’s Degree

Rutgers University-New Brunswick

  • New Brunswick, NJ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Students can pursue Rutgers University-New Brunswick's online programs without relocating to New Jersey. With nine online bachelor's programs, including a bachelor's in biological sciences, the institution provides remote educational opportunities for learners with various interests. By eliminating the need to commute or live near campus, online learning is often more affordable, improving the accessibility of higher education.

A bachelor's degree can qualify graduates for career advancement and increased pay. The flexibility of online learning often benefits students with family obligations and full-time jobs.

Online programs account for 9% of the school's academic offerings. Because the public institution holds accreditation, employers recognize degrees earned online or on campus from the school.

Rutgers University-New Brunswick at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: 11,925

Total Bachelor's Programs: 117

Online Bachelor's Programs: 19

Undergraduate Tuition Rate: $29,012

Average Financial Aid Award: $14,168

Accepts Transfer Credits: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$12,230
Out-of-state
$29,012
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
61%
Students Enrolled
50,173
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
24% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#4 Earning an Online Biology Bachelor’s Degree

Prescott College

  • Prescott, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Arizona-based Prescott College's academic offerings include online undergraduate programs. With 14 options for learners pursuing their bachelor's degree online, the institution prepares individuals to succeed across industries. Many students choose online learning because of the increased affordability and accessibility distance programs can offer.

A bachelor's in environmental studies typically leads to more career opportunities than a high school diploma. Students who need to schedule academics around other obligations, such as full-time employment, often choose online programs.

Of the school's programs, 93% are available online. To maintain accreditation, the private institution undergoes regular evaluations from a third-party agency.

Prescott College at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: Data not available

Total Bachelor's Programs: Data not available

Online Bachelor's Programs: 23

Undergraduate Tuition Rate: $30,888

Average Financial Aid Award: Data not available

Accepts Transfer Credits: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$30,888
Out-of-state
$30,888
Retention Rate
61%
Admission Rate
97%
Students Enrolled
993
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
65% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#5 Earning an Online Biology Bachelor’s Degree

Gardner-Webb University

  • Boiling Springs, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Gardner-Webb University provides options for students to pursue their degree online or on campus in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. Among the institution's academic programs are 14 online bachelor's-level options, including a bachelor of science in biology. Earning a degree online can be more accessible and affordable than taking classes in person.

Graduates can use their bachelor's degree to enter a new industry or to pursue advanced leadership roles in their current field. Online programs feature flexible scheduling options, which can benefit working professionals and busy students.

Online programs in various fields comprise 37% of all academic options the school delivers. Because the private institution holds accreditation, employers recognize degrees earned online or on campus from the school.

Gardner-Webb University at a Glance:

Online Student Enrollment: Data not available

Total Bachelor's Programs: Data not available

Online Bachelor's Programs: 8

Undergraduate Tuition Rate: $31,220

Average Financial Aid Award: Data not available

Accepts Transfer Credits: Data not available

Average Tuition
In-state
$31,220
Out-of-state
$31,220
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
67%
Students Enrolled
3,518
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
52% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Overview of Biology Degrees

Biology is the study of life. Students pursuing a degree in this area learn about how that life functions at the cellular level, how living organisms interact with one another in ecosystems, and how humans can influence the environments around them.

A bachelor's in biology helps students develop foundational knowledge on topics like evolution, genetics, and taxonomy. This foundation enables them to work in general life science roles after graduation, such as environmental engineer or conservation scientist. Students may also opt to pursue more specialized knowledge at the graduate level, preparing for careers as biochemists or microbiologists.

Some students seek out their undergraduate degree directly after finishing high school, while others return to college in order to change direction in their career. Online programs, in particular, cater to working professionals, as students can often watch lectures, complete assignments, and take exams entirely on their own schedules and from the comfort of their own homes.

Careers in biology should see strong growth in the near future. For example, the BLS projects a 10% job growth rate for both biotechnicians and natural science managers through 2026. Experts attribute much of this increase in demand to the growing role of biotechnology in our daily lives.

Application Process

To earn a bachelor's in biology, you must first hold a high school diploma or GED. Most colleges require that you maintain a certain GPA in high school, usually between 2 and 2.5. To request your transcripts, contact your high school guidance counselor or your equivalency provider.

Many schools ask students to submit scores from either the SAT or ACT, though some online programs allow those with a strong academic record to waive this requirement. You should also plan to submit up to three letters of recommendation, ideally from former teachers, employers, and community leaders. You may also need to write a personal essay outlining your academic qualifications and plans after graduation.

Once you submit your application, an admissions officer may ask to schedule an interview. Consider this an opportunity to provide context to any weaknesses in your materials and reiterate your desire to study at their institution.

After your interview, a school may choose to admit you, deny your application, or place you on the waitlist, meaning you may ultimately gain admission if another student drops out.

What Will I Learn?

Most bachelor's programs in biology consist of 120 credits. Between 40 and 50 of these credits cover general education topics, such as psychology, math, and English. An additional 40-50 credits cover foundational topics within your major, like general biology and anatomy. You can use the remaining 20-40 credits to explore specialized subjects in biology or pursue an interest in an entirely unrelated field.

Students who score a three or higher on the Advanced Placement biology exam may test out of one or more of their introductory courses. If you hold an associate degree, you may not need to take as many general education courses and can potentially graduate in as few as two years. Full-time students with no prior credits usually can earn their bachelor's degree in about four years. Part-time students may need anywhere from six to eight years to finish an undergraduate program.

Six courses commonly offered in online bachelor's in biology programs are detailed below.

  • General Biology

    This course offers a broad introduction to many of the concepts you will encounter during your undergraduate studies. Topics covered include cell structure and function in mammals, cellular reproduction through both mitosis and meiosis, and genetics. The course also reviews the history of biological breakthroughs, such as Darwin's contributions to the science of evolution.

  • Bioethics

    Bioethics play a role in some of the most contentious issues of our time, including the abortion debate, end-of-life decisions, and medical experimentation on humans and animals. Through readings and case studies, students in this course begin to develop a framework for approaching the kind of ethical dilemmas they may encounter in practice.

  • Anatomy and Physiology

    Many undergraduate students majoring in biology hope to enter the field of medicine. This course lays a foundation for that course of study through an exploration of subjects like the cellular mechanism of muscle contractions, the function of the various organ systems in the human body, and neural transmission.

  • Genetics

    Careers in biotechnology, especially those within the burgeoning subfield of genomics, require a deep understanding of genetics and heredity. In this class, students learn about the basic principles of eukaryotic cell genetics, including DNA and chromosomal structure, patterns of inheritance, and gene expression.

  • The Microbial World

    This course lays the groundwork for more advanced study in microbiology. Students examine the relationship between microbes and host, with a particular emphasis on microbes that exist symbiotically and parasitically within humans. Students also learn about the environmental and economic impact of microorganisms, like algal blooms that affect fishing markets.

  • Biological Chemistry

    Though a separate branch of science, biology students must know how to use the tools of chemistry to study biological functions. This course looks at the chemistry of water, foundations of organic chemistry, types of biomolecules, and enzyme kinetics. Many master's programs in biology require undergraduate coursework in biological chemistry.

What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Biology?

An online degree in biology opens up numerous career paths. By developing both theoretical knowledge and practical skills in an undergraduate program, you can qualify for entry-level roles such as botanist, wildlife zoologist, and biotechnician.

Many students who earn a bachelor's in biology choose to continue their education at the graduate level. Many medical schools require previous coursework in biology, as do master's programs in areas like microbiology, biochemistry, and epidemiology.

Core Skills

Students pursuing a biology degree online develop skills in three primary areas: comprehending complex information, working in a laboratory setting, and writing.

Organic chemistry famously serves to weed out potential medical school applicants, as it requires students to understand, recall, and apply extremely complex information. The same can be said for many other courses in biology, meaning students in this major must quickly learn how to analyze and synthesize complicated concepts.

Many of the courses taken as an undergraduate student require some form of lab work, such as examining single-celled organisms under a microscope or dissecting larger organisms to learn about their anatomy. While online programs may rely less heavily on actual lab work than their on-campus counterparts, distance learners must still study the proper safety procedures and best practices for working in a laboratory setting.

Finally, biology students must develop strong writing skills. Much of the work of a biologist involves conveying information to those without a scientific background, and writing clearly and succinctly plays an important role in translating findings to the public. Students who hope to pursue an advanced degree also need to prepare to write either a master's thesis or a doctoral dissertation.

Potential Careers and Salaries

Biology is a broad field with many practical applications. The nature of your work, as well as the kind of compensation you can expect, depends greatly on the career path you choose.

For example, you may want to work as a zoologist, observing animals in their natural habitat to gain a better understanding of their behavior. You may instead choose a role less reliant on field work, such as helping doctors and other scientists conduct experiments as a biotechnician. Or you may feel drawn to policy, using your understanding of biological principles to help shape legislation aimed at protecting and restoring certain habitats.

Many biologists work in research or academic positions, often at colleges and universities. A large number also work in the private sector, usually for pharmaceutical companies or biotechnology firms. Still, others work at government agencies or nonprofit organizations dedicated to environmental issues. You can read more about five common careers in biology below.

BROWSE BACHELOR'S IN BIOLOGY CAREERS

Biologist

Biologists study living organisms, whether to help cure disease, safeguard a threatened species, or simply contribute to basic research. Biologists require exceptional observational, analytical, and communication skills. Some specialized and senior-level positions may require an advanced degree.

Annual Median Salary

$52,844 per year

Plant Biologist

Plant biologists work specifically with flora, usually specializing in a certain species or type of plant life, such as trees. Many plant biologists serve as agricultural and food scientists, helping to boost crop yields or control pests. Some study plants with the hope of discovering new medicines.

Annual Median Salary

$51,552 per year

Human Biologist

Human biologists possess a broad understanding of the structure and function of the human body. They can apply this knowledge in many different pursuits, whether collaborating with doctors to create new treatments for illness or injury, counseling prospective parents on the likelihood of passing along a genetic disorder, or educating the public about healthy behaviors.

Annual Median Salary

$51,633 per year

Environmental Biologist

While many environmental biologists work in a pure research capacity, some monitor environmental conditions in order to write environmental impact reports. These reports detail the changes that a current or planned development project might bring to an ecosystem. Biologists specializing in environmental impact often work for government agencies.

Annual Median Salary

$46,744 per year

Computational Biologist

Computational biologists use biological data to create algorithms and other computer models, allowing them to better understand biological processes and relationships. The field of bioinformatics holds tremendous promise for treating disease, reducing hunger, and combating environmental threats like climate change.

Annual Median Salary

$93,302 per year

Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Biology?

You can take on many entry-level roles in the life sciences with just an undergraduate degree in biology. However, if you want to pursue a career as a physician, professor, or more specialized researcher, you may need to earn an advanced degree as well.

Through elective coursework, bachelor's programs give you the opportunity to explore fields in which you might continue your education. For example, a course in organic chemistry can help you determine if you want to apply to medical school or earn a Ph.D. in biochemistry. Classes in public health and virology can prepare you for graduate-level study in epidemiology.

If you remain unsure about whether you want to seek another degree, consider pursuing a graduate certificate instead. Certificate programs can help you develop new skills and knowledge, giving you a competitive edge in the job market without requiring as much time or money as a degree program. In many cases, you can even transfer credits from a certificate program toward a graduate degree should you choose to earn one later.

Accreditation for Biology Bachelor's Programs

Accredited schools must demonstrate that they meet certain academic standards and prepare their students for careers after graduation. If you attend an unaccredited school, future employers may not recognize your degree, and other institutions may not accept your transfer credits. You may even miss out on some financial aid opportunities.

At the undergraduate level, you should make sure that your college or university holds either regional or national accreditation. Most nonprofit schools receive regional accreditation, generally considered the more prestigious of the two forms. Examples of regional accreditors include the Higher Learning Commission and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

For-profit and vocational schools usually receive national accreditation. Examples of national accreditors include the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools and the Distance Education Accrediting Commission. Due to different standards, some regionally accredited schools may not accept transfer credits from nationally accredited institutions.

To determine if your program holds either regional or national accreditation, check the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's online directory.

Biology Professional Organizations

Joining a professional organization in biology after graduation can help jumpstart your career. Through regional and national events, these groups create opportunities for their members to network and discuss the latest developments in biological research. Many also offer professional development programs, helping you gain proficiency with a new technology or prepare to continue your education more formally. These organizations can also serve as an excellent resource for graduates seeking their first job, as many host online career centers or administer mentorship programs to recent graduates.

American Society of Plant Biologists

ASPB devotes itself to the advancement of the plant sciences. It publishes three scholarly journals, provides research fellowships and grants, and organizes educational programming for both plant biologists and K-12 students. The group also advocates for increased federal funding for research and more science-driven legislation.

Genetics Society of America

Founded in 1931, GSA now represents more than 5,500 genetics researchers and educators. It hosts close to a dozen national conferences each year and curates research for two scholarly journals. The group's website also features resources specifically for biology undergraduates.

ASCB

Now serving as an international forum for cellular biologists, ASCB offers a wealth of resources to its members, including a research portal, job board, and service awards. ASCB also organizes committees to support underrepresented groups in cellular biology, such as women, minorities, and members of the LGBTQ community.

Popular Resources

Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

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