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Biology is a broad subject that encompasses everything involved in the study of life. There are several agreed upon tenements in biology, off of which everything is based. One, cells are the basic unit of life. Two, genes are the basic unit of heredity. Three, evolution causes the changes in heritable traits over generations. Degrees in biology are offered at baccalaureate, master, and doctoral levels, and most careers in the field require some form of graduate education.
A baccalaureate in biology can be obtained as either a Bachelor’s of Science or Bachelor’s of Art. Both degrees will include intensive classes in molecular biology, genetics, human anatomy, chemistry, population biology and ecology, organismal biology, and chemistry. A BS in Biology will lean more heavily on physics and geosciences, as well as mathematics. BS degrees, in this instance, are geared more towards interested in further education for research or medicine. A BA in biology integrates more liberal arts courses and is primarily for students interested in academia.
Often times, students will be asked to choose a concentration within biology, since it is such a broad topic, examples of which include: Marine Biology, Environmental Biology, Computational Biology, Biochemistry, Plant Biology, and Microbiology.
Career opportunities for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in biology include: Pharmaceutical Sales Representative, Environmental Scientist or Specialist, Occupational Health and Safety, Conservation Scientist, High School Teacher, Environmental Technician, Biological Technician or Research Assistant, Quality Control Technician, Agricultural or Food Science Technician. Entry level salary is around $43,000.
Many biology majors go on to a graduate degree. A Master’s in Biology revolves almost entirely around research during the typically 2-year program. Honing into a concentration is expected. The curriculum will vary depending on area of interest, but more advanced classes will be offered, including in virology, microbial diversity, and immunology.
Graduates with a master’s in biology are able to work in medical research, in pharmaceutical research and development, as well as a range of other fields. Careers include: Aborist, Cellular Biologist, Forensic Scientist, Geneticist (laboratory). The median salary for graduates with a master’s in biology is $60,000.
Reaching the PhD of Biology level requires both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, and it’s the threshold for university-level teaching. PhDs in biology are dedicated to learning enough about the foundational and advanced concepts to offer something new and innovative to the industry. Scholarly publishing of unique discoveries in pathology, or genetic innovations, or environmental issues is 100% the end goal. Intellectual curiosity is an indispensable trait for those looking to pursue their PhD in Biology, especially since most graduates continue on within academia and research.