The 4 Best Schools for Biology Majors
Biology is an exciting field full of intriguing experiments, engaging thoughts, and mind-blowing developments. Learn more about the best schools for biology
Although biology might sound limited in its scope, this broad area of study has several subfields, including evolution, zoology, physiology, microbiology, molecular biology, marine biology, medicine, ecology, botany, genetics, and conservation… to name a few.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in biology, you should strive to attend a college or university with competitive offerings in this area. After all, the better your education, the more professional opportunities you’ll have in any field, including biology.
Here, we’ll look at the # best schools for biology in the entire country. Get your microscopes and slides ready!
What are the best schools for biology?
1. Warren Wilson College – Swannanoa, NC
Warren Wilson College is well-known for its hands-on approach to education in all fields, including biology. So, if you’re looking for a chance to not only learn from some of the brightest biology professors in the country but also gain some real-life experience in the field before even graduation, look no further!
Students at Warren Wilson can choose from a wide range of biology-related programs ranging from genetics and microbiology to plant evolution and ecology. To supplement their learning, biology students are required to take some core curriculum classes such as math, physics, chemistry, environmental studies, and education.
After completing the core courses, you’ll need to take a few courses in botany, zoology, and cellular and subcellular biology to lay the groundwork for your overall biology education. The purpose of these foundational subjects is to create well-rounded students with wide-ranging knowledge of the field.
On top of Warren Wilson’s focus on hands-on learning, biology students are tasked with completing an independent research project to be presented at the college’s Nature Science Seminars. This equally daunting and exciting project is a great introduction to real-world research work.
There are plenty of opportunities for biology students to take their passions for the field outside of the classroom. Warren Wilson College’s 1,100-acre campus features gardens, rivers, forests, greenhouses, and farms which biology students use as a lab to further their studies, understanding, and skills.
One of the most unique elements of Warren Wilson’s approach to education is their “Triad” curriculum focusing on academics, work, and service. No matter what major you’re approaching, you’ll be expected to complete work in all three areas.
For biology majors, this means another excellent opportunity to gain experience in the field whether that’s joining a forestry crew or volunteering to care for equipment at a local lab.
2. Stanford University – Stanford, CA
The hallmark of a great university is specialization. And that’s exactly what Stanford University has achieved with the field of marine biology. The school’s preeminent marine biology program is known as one of the best in the country and the world, for that matter.
The jewel of the marine biology program, the Hopkins Marine Station, is an epic 11-acre mini-campus located on Cabrillo Point built to house 40 graduate students and ten staff members for Stanford’s biology department.
The Hopkins Marine Station features world-class research facilities, state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, and an endless array of marine journals, books, and other research tools. You’ll have a tough time finding a college putting this kind of investment in its marine biology program.
But graduates aren’t the only marine biology students reaping the rewards of Stanford’s significant investments in the program. Undergraduates can choose from an array of specific biology courses, including comparative physiology, environmental physiology, conservation biology, oceanography.
Undergraduate biology students also have a unique opportunity to work closely with researchers, graduate students, and Stanford biology staff through the Honors Program in Biology.
This exciting research-based program requires students to develop an independent and unique form of biological work before presenting it at the Honors Research Symposium and online through the Biology Virtual Showcase site.
Stanford University offers a wide variety of off-campus study and research opportunities for students.
Whether you just want to head 90 miles away to the world-famous Hopkins Marine Station, take a short jaunt over to Hawaii for the 10-week Wrigley Field Program, or study abroad in a foreign country, Stanford has all of those opportunities and more open for biology students.
Interested in Stanford’s biology courses but not planning to attend the school? No problem! If you live close enough, you can simply stop by during the summer. Non-Stanford students are welcome to attend their courses. Of course, you should check with the professor beforehand to make sure they don’t mind.
3. Tufts University – Medford, MA
Tufts University has been recognized by several prominent publications, including College Factual & US News, for having one of the best biology programs in the country. Students can pursue various biology programs, including:
- BS in Biology
- BS in Biochemistry
- BA/BS in Biopsychology
- BS in Biotechnology
- Environmental Studies Program
- Combined Degree in Biology (BS/MS)
- Minor in Biotechnology
- MS in Biology
- Ph.D. in Biology
Tufts University biology students receive a dynamic education with focuses on a seminar, lectures, and laboratory courses. This way, students develop an in-depth knowledge of the theoretical side of the field while having plenty of opportunities to pursue a real-world understanding too.
Throughout its classes, Tufts’ biology department strives to teach students the fundamentals of scientific problem-solving, understanding research literature, and accurately communicating research results – all skills essential for a future career in any field related to biology.
Students also have plenty of opportunities to engage in leading, hands-on research in the fields of conservation biology, animal behavior, plant ecology, physiology, cell biology, molecular biology, and genetics.
The school also hosts a summer research program through the Sackler School, where students can work with graduate students on exciting research projects. Biology students can even submit their own research proposal to Tufts University with the potential of receiving funding for their work.
The Biology Department at Tufts Unversity is interested in developing a deep level of understanding among students in the areas of healthcare and the environment. In this effort, many biology students will participate in the school’s Community Health Program or Environmental Studies Program.
If you’re itching to get off campus and explore the world, you’ll have excellent opportunities through Tufts which offers some excellent biology-focused study abroad programs. In fact, around 45% of students at the university end up studying abroad.
4. Colorado State University – Ft. Collins, CO
If hands-on, in-field and real-world research is what you’re looking for, then Colorado State University is the place to be. This 5,000-acre campus has a prime location in the foothills of the stunning Rocky Mountains in the incredibly livable Ft. Collins.
The university takes full advantage of this pristine location with fantastic research opportunities for biology students. The Warner College of Natural Resource’s Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology program https://warnercnr.colostate.edu/fwcb/ is one of the best of its kind in the country, placing a focus on conversation and wildlife policies.
CSU has a specialized satellite campus built to host workshops, conferences, retreats, meetings, and research opportunities for students. Aptly named the Mountain Campus, this off-shoot offers several hands-on, rewarding research and field studies opportunities for biology majors.
It’s located over 9,000 feet in the mountains with 1,600-acres of land, making it the perfect opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday campus and city life. During month-long summer classes, students can live and study in the mountains. These in-field courses are offered in a range of disciplines including research, plant-life biology, and wildlife conservation.
CSU’s Department of Biology offers a wide range of courses spanning across all sub-disciplines of biology. Whether you want to study cellular biology or the entire biosphere, you’ll have no trouble finding engaging and challenging courses on your desired subjects.
The landscape of biology in higher education.
Interest in biology has been steadily increasing over the past few decades. In fact, there are over 150,000 biology degrees awarded to students each year. This number is growing by over 3% each year too!
If you’re attending an in-state public university or college, you can expect to pay around $8,500 for tuition, which isn’t too bad considering the rising costs of tuition. However, this number grows dramatically for students pursuing a biology major at a private, out-of-state school.
Tuition in this scenario could run you upwards of $38,000. In both instances, the tuition rates for biology programs are increasing around 1.5 to 2% annually. With rising tuition costs, the average pay for biology graduates is also increasing.
The average wage of professionals in the field is around $108,792, with an annual growth of around 0.6%. The total number of people in the workforce is growing at an impressive rate of 4.1% annually. The average employment age continues to decrease as more and more young people get interested in the field.
Tips for pursuing a degree in Biology
Congrats! You already know what you want to study in college. You’re already ahead of the 75% of college students who still aren’t sure or changed their major at least once. And now that you know some of the best schools for biology, you should focus on increasing your chances of getting accepted to these prestigious colleges and universities.
Take biology courses in high school.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. Any student interested in attending the best schools for biology majors should be exhausting their high school’s biology curriculum.
The vast majority of high schools have at least one biology course, and many schools go a step further by offering upper-level biology classes.
AP Biology is among the most common upper-level course in the field offered by high schools. However, you might have additional choices depending on where you go to school.
The key is to expose yourself to as many biology-related topics as possible. It’s going to look great on your application and won’t leave any question in the minds of admissions officers that you’re seriously committed to the field.
Keep in mind that you still need to aim for near-perfect grades in these biology courses. Colleges aren’t going to be nearly as impressed by an applicant who took half-a-dozen biology classes yet failed to do well in any.
Try to find that balance between difficulty and capability. You want your biology courses, and all of your curriculum for that matter, to push your abilities without making it impossible to earn a decent grade.
Work with a college admissions specialist.
One of the best ways to secure a spot in a competitive biology program is to work with a college entrance expert. These professionals can help you custom-tailor your application to catch the attention of admissions officers at your desired school.
With a thorough understanding of the college admissions process, a college admissions expert can help you choose the right high school courses, extracurricular activities, summer programs, and other crucial factors to put you on the right path to attending the best schools in biology in the country.
Many high schoolers are passionate about biology without having a clear understanding of how to focus their efforts most effectively for a smooth transition into college. You can think of college admissions experts as guides helping you reach your college-level goals.
Participate in biology-related extracurriculars.
Although biology classes are fundamental if you’re planning to pursue a degree in the field, they’re not everything. It’s important not to forget about the impact of extracurricular activities on your chances of getting accepted into the best schools for biology.
Admissions officers are interested in finding well-rounded candidates who pursue their passion for biology both inside and outside the classroom.
Dedicating your free time to the further development of your skills and knowledge in biology shows a commitment and desire that only taking classes wouldn’t convey to admissions officers. It might not seem like a big difference to you, but admissions officers will undoubtedly notice it.
We advise students to focus on a single extracurricular to give themselves time to excel in that particular activity. Check to see what kind of biology extracurriculars your high school provides and try out all the ones that pique your interest.
When you’ve narrowed down your favorite, commit to it throughout high school for the maximum effect on your application. There are also one-time extracurricular activities such as summer programs, internships, and even academic competitions that can further help set you apart from the crowd of applicants.
Focus on all of your academic subjects.
When you’re sure about what major to pursue in college, it’s easy to get laser-focused on the related high school courses and forget about other subjects. For example, students seeking to attend the best schools for biology might understandably devote a lot of time, attention, and energy to improving their grades in related courses.
This makes perfectly good sense considering the importance of your performance in biology courses when applying to biology programs. However, you can’t let this focus distract from your other courses. Admissions officers don’t just care about your abilities in a single area. They also want to see your skills in various fields.
There are a few reasons for this broad focus. Firstly, biology is a multidisciplinary field mixing various elements of science and math together. Students who can demonstrate aptitude in these relevant fields will have a better chance of catching the attention of admissions officers when compared to students who fell short in these areas in favor of higher biology scores.
Another important reason colleges focus on your overall academic performance is because they’re looking for students who care about doing their best no matter the subject. If you push yourself in all courses, you effectively demonstrate your work ethic, determination, and dynamic abilities.
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