Best Online Bachelor’s in Biology Programs

Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleBachelor’sin Biology2018
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Biological science is one of today’s broadest and most important areas of scientific research. In addition to being an exciting and multifaceted discipline for students interested in the study of life, it’s also an incredibly popular undergraduate major, conferring one of the largest numbers of degrees.

Earning an online biology degree prepares you to conduct research or tackle the rigors of medical, dental, optometry, or veterinary school; the first- and second-year curricula of most postgraduate institutions have a biological basis. This places biology graduates in high demand for both medical school and employment. Earning an online biology degree is a good first step toward pursuing work in both scientific and nonscientific fields.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 University of Florida 88.89 85% Gainesville, FL

Located in Gainesville, Florida, UF is one of the nation’s largest and most respected public research institutions. The school serves more than 35,000 students each year and boast faculty that includes two professors who have won the Pulitzer Prise and 43 members of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, or the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences.

UF offers a variety of distance learning programs, including an online bachelor’s in biology. This program provides students with foundational knowledge in biology and prepares them to pursue careers in bioscience management, biotechnology law, bioinformatics, and science journalism. Transfer students must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 and complete core coursework in chemistry, biology, and mathematics to be considered. UF is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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2 Arizona State University-Tempe 66.39 58% Tempe, AZ

ASU is a public research institution that was founded in 1885 in Tempe, Arizona. It is one of the nation's largest universities, with a 661-acre main campus and a student body of over 43,000. The school boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 23-to-1 and more than 40% of all classes have fewer than 20 students. ASU offers dozens of distance learning programs, including an online biology degree with a focus on biological sciences.

This 120-credit program includes 39 total classes, each of which can be completed in just eight weeks. The program provides students with foundational scientific competencies and prepare them for careers in bioinformatics, community health, forestry, and the life sciences. The curriculum includes all of the coursework needed to prepare students for the MCAT and medical school. Freshman applicants must meet at least one of the following requirements: top 25% of high school graduating class, minimum GPA of 3.0 in competency courses, and minimum ACT score of 22 for in-state students (24 out-of-state) or SAT reasoning score of 1040 for in-state students (1110 out-of-state).

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3 Excelsior College 58.33 40% Albany, NY

Excelsior is a private nonprofit college that was founded in 1971 in Albany, New York. The school offers 30 degree and certificate programs that are ideal for adult, non-traditional students. Excelsior has a student body of over 32,000 students, more than 12,000 of whom study in the school's nursing college.

The school offers a 120-credit online bachelor’s in biology with a focus on the natural sciences. Students can choose a standard program or a concentration in biology. The biology track prepares students for careers in healthcare energy and environmental science. Online courses are delivered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 and complete a three-credit capstone project to be considered. Excelsior is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

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4 Western Governors University 58.33 27% Salt Lake City, UT

WGU is a private online university based in Salt Lake City, Utah, that was founded in 1997 by the Western Governors Association. The school serves more than 86,000 students who live in all 50 U.S. states, including several hundred who are active-duty military personnel. It offers programs that are ideal for adult learners, as the average students is 37 years old and holds a part- or full-time job.

The school offers an online bachelor of arts in science (biological science) that prepares students to become high school biology teachers in the state of Washington. The program offers students with foundational knowledge of basic scientific concepts and competencies, as well as providing them with real-world working experiences. The curriculum includes courses on topics such as health sciences, mathematics, pedagogy, and science education. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

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5 Logan University 53.33 40% Chesterfield, MO

Logan is a private university that was founded in 1935 as a college of chiropractic education in Chesterfield, Missouri. The school offers a variety of chiropractic programs, as well as a variety of other degrees in the sciences and health-related fields. More than 90% of Logan's faculty hold either a doctoral or terminal degree in their area of expertise. The university boasts a student loan default rate of just 2%, which is significantly lower than the national average of 11.3%.

The school offers a bachelor of science program in human biology that can be completed either on-campus or online. This 122-credit program provides students with foundational knowledge on core natural science topics and prepares students for careers in the health sciences industry. Graduates are also prepared to continue their education in graduate programs in medicine, chiropractic, and dentistry. Logan is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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6 University of West Georgia 50.56 37% Carrollton, GA

UWG was founded in 1906 in Carrollton, Georgia, as the Fourth District Agricultural and Mechanical School. The school offers 88 degrees and 11 certificate programs on popular topics such as biology, psychology, and management. UWG boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 21-to-1, with 75% of all faculty holding a doctorate or terminal degree in their field.

The school offers an online bachelor’s in biology that prepares students for careers in a variety of health and science-related professionals, as well as in teaching positions at the secondary level. Students interested in the teaching track must enroll in some courses on-campus. The curriculum includes core coursework on topics like molecular biology, ecology, and evolutionary biology. UWG is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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7 Texas State University 50.56 55% San Marcos, TX

Texas State is a public research university that was founded in 1899 as the Southwest Texas State Normal School. It is the largest school in the Texas State University System and is the fifth-largest university in the state of Texas. The school serves more than 39,000 students each year and offers 98 bachelor's, 81 master, and 13 doctoral degrees.

Texas State offers a biology bachelor’s degree that can be completed entirely online or in a hybrid format. This 120-credit program includes foundational coursework in biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics, along with a number of advanced electronics including cellular and organismal biology. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers in a variety of health and science-related fields, as well as further graduate study in medical school. Texas State is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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8 Westfield State University 49.44 60% Westfield, MA

Westfield State is a public university that was originally founded in 1838 by famed social reformer, educator, and activist Horace Mann. The school serves more than 6,000 students each year, 5,000 of whom are undergraduates. Westfield State boasts small class sizes with an average student-to-faculty ratio of 17-to-1.

The school offers a variety of distance learning programs, including a part-time online bachelor's in biology. This program provides students with a thorough background in the sciences, including core coursework on topics like biology, mathematics, and anatomy. Students must also complete advanced courses that including research and fieldwork components. Westfield's Department of Biology connects students with internships and encourages them to design and pursue independent study opportunities. Westfield State is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

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9 Washburn University 37.78 34% Topeka, KS

Washburn is a public university that was founded in 1865 in Topeka, Kansas, as Lincoln College. The school serves more than 7,500 students each year, the vast majority of whom are undergraduates. Washburn offers more than 200 academic programs through its five colleges. The school offers a variety of distance learning programs, including an online bachelor’s in biology.

This program prepares students for further study in medical, optometry, pharmacy, or veterinary school. Students can pursue specializations in secondary education, environmental biology, and molecular biology, as well as bachelor of arts degrees in both biology and environmental biology. The curriculum includes coursework on a variety of topics, such as cellular biology, genetics, chemistry, and physics. All online students pay the same tuition rate, regardless of residency. Washburn is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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Students who earn an online bachelor’s in biology obtain skills related to data analysis, critical thinking and problem solving, understanding and applying scientific concepts, and laboratory procedures. While most schools have similar learning outcomes, the exact details vary. A few examples of the different specializations and courses offered by biology programs are listed below.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Bachelor’s in Biology

Microbiology

Microbiology is the study microorganisms and their applications (e.g., in foods, vitamins, genetic engineering, and biotechnology) or roles in disease processes. Depending on your chosen program, this concentration may emphasize general or medical microbiology.

Careers this concentration prepares for: Clinical microbiologist, food and drug analyst, public health biologist or chemist, genetic engineering technician, and biotechnologist

Physiology

Often regarded as the cornerstone of biological sciences, physiology studies the function and nature of living organisms, including humans, plants, and animals, and their parts. Courses may cover subjects such as aging, neuroscience, endocrinology, and reproductive physiology.

Careers this concentration prepares for: Biomedical scientist, pharmacologist, health care scientist, exercise physiologist, and physiotherapist

Zoology

A zoology concentration provides a broad background in the biology of animals (both vertebrate and invertebrate) in terms of their evolution, behavior, ecology, and anatomy. To ensure hands-on research opportunities, some online programs emphasize fieldwork. The best schools have extensive networks of fieldwork sites to pair students with a zoological organization near their home.

Careers this concentration prepares for: Marine scientist, nature conservation officer, zoologist, ecologist, and environmental consultant

Curriculum for an Online Bachelor’s in Biology

Students pursuing a biology degree online complete coursework that is a rigorous combination of core areas (including math, chemistry, physics, and principles of biology), major requirements, and related electives. Some schools offer the above concentrations or different niche areas of expertise, but the following classes are ones you’re likely to see in most programs:

  • Cell and molecular biology: This field unifies genetics, biochemistry, and biophysics to study cells, their components, and how they interact with living organisms. The ultimate goal is to apply this understanding in beneficial ways, such as correcting disease-causing gene mutations. This knowledge prepares you to work as a molecular biologist, cellular biologist, or laboratory technician.
  • Human physiology: This branch of physiology covers major organ systems, such as the endocrine, nervous, musculoskeletal, and respiratory systems, and how and why they function. This class is useful for students interested in working in fields related to health care, government research, and fitness.
  • Ecology: Ecology is the study of natural ecosystems, including the distributions of and interactions between organisms and how these organisms interact with their environments. Ecological principles are key to solving biological and medical problems, such as disease dynamics and biodiversity preservation. This course is especially pertinent to careers in the great outdoors, such as park naturalists, environmental consultants, or restoration ecologists.

How Long Does it Take to get an Online Bachelor’s in Biology?

Most bachelor’s degrees in biology require students to complete a minimum of 120 credits, which takes an average of four years. However, several factors affect the length of an online biology program. Many students take advantage of the flexibility and convenience provided by online programing, which allows students to study part-time or at a slower pace; students who go this route can take as many as six years to graduate. Alternatively, individually-paced, asynchronous coursework is great for learners with busy lifestyles or unique educational needs. Self-paced learning also gives you the opportunity to graduate faster.

Another teaching method utilizes cohort learning, where students take classes at set schedules with the rest of their class; this helps students who struggle with time management stay on track. Other factors that can reduce the length of your program include previously-earned college credits, which can be transferred to meet bachelor’s degree requirements, and whether or not your program offers accelerated coursework, which can reduce the time investment needed to earn a degree.

To determine the quality of your online biology degree, be sure to check the program’s website for accreditation information. Accreditation means a trustworthy authority has recognized a program’s merit in terms of its curricula, faculty, student support services, facilities, and financing. You can find lists of schools that meet these criteria on various agencies’ websites. However, it is also important to verify the the purpose and legitimacy of the accrediting agency.

Institutions of higher learning can receive two different types of accreditation: regional and national. While national accreditation recognizes particular types of schools (e.g., vocational or religiously-affiliated schools), regional accreditation evaluates institutions based on their geography. Most online schools boast regional accreditation, which is the most widely recognized and prestigious type. It’s also worth checking for programmatic accreditation from specialized associations in the biological sciences industry, such as the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology or the American Institute of Biological Sciences. These are both nonprofit organizations with thousands of members dedicated to advancing biological research and education.

Next, check the accrediting agency’s legitimacy by accessing the websites of the U.S. Department of Education (ED) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). These impartial bodies award stamps of approval to accrediting agencies, ensuring that they are qualified to approve schools’ methods and standards. You can find databases of accredited schools on the ED’s and CHEA’s websites.

Bachelor’s in Biology Salary

Upon graduation, your annual earnings will depend on a variety of factors, including your specific career path, employer, and professional experience level. Your wages will also depend on your geographic location. The table below shows the five most popular destinations for biology graduates, according to PayScale, as well as the accompanying average salaries.

Bachelor’s in Biology Careers

Biology degree online programs cultivate a well-rounded understanding of the physical world and teach students important analytical and critical thinking skills. Graduates with this knowledge have access to a wide range of career possibilities. Depending on your concentration or area of particular interest, you can pursue postgraduate study or begin a career in a biology-related field. You can also enter a nonscientific field, such as sales, education, or law. The list below includes a few occupations you can pursue with a bachelor’s degree in biology.

Biological Technician

Biological technicians assist biological and medical scientists with laboratory tests. To succeed in this role, laboratory experience is critical. Biological technicians can advance to scientist, managerial, or teaching positions after obtaining a few years of experience.

Median Annual Salary $42,520
Projected Growth Rate 5%

Conservation Scientist

Also known as foresters, conservation scientists manage government-owned or privately-owned natural resources like parks and forests. Individuals who concentrate in environmental biology are well prepared for this career. Foresters who hold an advanced degree can move from fieldwork into office-based managerial positions.

Median Annual Salary $60,610
Projected Growth Rate 7%

Geoscientist

Geoscientists study the Earth and its composition, processes, and evolution. Students interested in following this career path should enroll in a program that includes geology coursework, field and laboratory experience, and computer modeling and digital analysis. Some states also require geoscientists to obtain licensure.

Median Annual Salary $89,780
Projected Growth Rate 10%

Zoologist

A zoologist (or wildlife biologist) studies wildlife and the interactions between animals and their ecosystems. A bachelor’s degree is sufficient for entry-level work, but zoologists who pursue master’s and doctorate degrees can qualify for high-level investigative work.

Median Annual Salary $60,520
Projected Growth Rate 4%

Microbiologist

Microbiologists study microorganisms and determine how they interact with their environments. They often work in research teams and use a wide range of sophisticated equipment to conduct experiments. Microbiology coursework and laboratory experience are important to enter this field. If you plan to conduct research at colleges and universities, you’ll eventually need to pursue a Ph.D.

Median Annual Salary $66,850
Projected Growth Rate 4%

Deciding how to pay for your online bachelor’s in biology is an important part of the higher education process. Fortunately, there are several resources available to distance learners to make this easier. First, check to see if your school offers any grants or scholarships; you may qualify for these based on your specialization, financial need, or academic achievements. Also make sure to complete the Free Education for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to determine if you qualify for federal financial aid opportunities.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.