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Courses and Degrees in Biology

A biology degree can lead to a variety of careers in biology, life sciences, ecology, and research in a number of fields. Biology careers can lead to jobs as a research biologist, health care services, environmental management, or education to teach biology at a college or university. Biologists can work in a variety of industries and sectors of the economy, moving beyond traditional roles as a scientist.

A biology education program is often comprised of classes that engage students in evaluating evidence, making observations, consulting data for research purposes, formulating hypotheses, understanding how nature and the elements interact with each other, and learning how viruses affect both people and animals.

Earning a biology degree is becoming increasingly easier with the opportunities in online courses. An online biology degree program offers students a chance to complete their education from a distance, and is ideal for students who may require a flexible schedule. The curriculum and course structure varies significantly from a campus-based degree program, but still allows students to pursue a biology career of choice upon graduation.

Biology Career Skills and Basic Requirements for a Biology Education

A biology education can lead to a vast number of career options for graduates in all areas of study, and students learn critical skills such as:

  • Research and analysis
  • Problem solving
  • History of biology and life sciences
  • Communications
  • Decision-making
  • Internet research
  • Working both independently, and in a research-team environment
  • Conducting field studies and reporting

The basic requirements include a strong focus on math, chemistry, life science, and physics during high school and college. It can be helpful to join a variety of science clubs and related programs to supplement coursework, and students also have a chance to complete a variety of independent research projects under the direction of the course instructor or staff biologist on campus. With increasing opportunities with an online education, many students can also supplement or complete a biology degree online.

Biology Career Options and Opportunities

Biologists, researchers, and scientists can choose to pursue a career in a variety of industries, including the business and teaching sectors. Biology careers can be found in the areas of:

  • Health care

  • Research

  • Environmental conservation and management

  • Education

  • Economics

  • Business and industry

  • Politics and policy

  • Forensic science

  • Biotechnology

  • Art

  • Mathematics

Biology careers that are focused in the health care industry often involve developing public health campaigns for marketing and public awareness, as well as working with health care professionals such as veterinarians, doctors, nurses, and dentists. Biologists here may be involved with research, management, and providing other services in a variety of domains.

Research biologists are often found in the field and laboratory settings, finding solutions to common health problems and developing research projects. They may be involved with finding a cure for a virus or studying new species, and can conduct research in many sectors such as marine biology, conservation, public welfare, and horticulture.

Staff biologists involved with environmental management and conversation are focused on solving problems at zoos, nature conservancies, national parks, and special interest groups involved with environmental preservation and maintenance. Conservation biologists may also be involved with public relations campaigns and educating the public on various initiatives and developments in the industry.

Biology careers in education are focused on life science education and exploration at schools, colleges, and universities. A biology degree may be completed as a basis for graduate studies, the level where researchers and clinicians can share their findings with other researchers and students, or begin teaching at primary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities. Many zoos, science museums, and public parks also employ biologists to teach and educate as part of their workshop or seminar programs.

Additional careers can be found in the fields of biotechnology, forensic science, business and industry, economics, mathematics, politics and public policy, mathematics, science writing and art.

Courses and Programs Available with a Biology Education

Along with independent research projects, biology programs may include the following coursework and classes:

  • Anatomy

  • Animal physiology

  • Plant biology

  • Cell biology

  • Chemistry

  • Molecular biology

  • Environmental sciences

  • Biochemistry

  • Computer science

Students may also choose to take biology courses online to supplement a campus-based education, or complete the entire degree online.

Pursuing an Online Biology Degree

Completing a biology degree online is an opportunity for students interested in taking courses in a more flexible format, or even for those interested in completing a degree on a part time basis. Biology degrees and programs in an online format vary significantly from campus-based courses as there is limited instructor-led coursework and students are required to research, attend online lectures, and study independently. Lectures may be delivered in presentation format or online videos, and notes and projects are often posted in a discussion forum or virtual workspace. Students who complete an online program may also be required to complete a lab simulation or other hands-on portion. This may take place at an on-campus setting, or even at the student's home. Each online biology degree program varies by school or educational institution, but the flexible format is becoming increasingly popular for students who prefer an independent learning environment.

Employment Prospect and Salary Information for Careers in Biology

The growth of specialized fields such as marine biology, conservation, and a variety of biology subfields offer ample opportunity for a successful career. Students can choose to continue lifelong educational programs to become research scientists and educators within their field, and a Master's or Ph.D. program can open up additional opportunities for a career in this area.

Starting salaries for those with a bachelor's degree were $31,258 in 2005, and advanced biology degrees led to jobs with a range between $55,000 and $74,000. Earnings vary significantly depending on the role, specialization, and experience.


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