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Best Online Biology Bachelor's Degrees

By the OnlineU team | Updated 2/12/2021
Quick Facts
Accreditation: Institutional
Average Tuition: $28,126
Average Salary: $74,394

From examining cells to mapping the human genome, the scientific study of life itself is an endlessly fascinating and vast field. Those who earn a degree in biology will have the opportunity to study living organisms to gain a clear understanding of how humans, plants, animals, and microscopic bacteria operate. There are many concentrations within the field, including microbiology, marine biology, genetics, forensic biology, and environmental biology. There is also a wide variety of career paths in biology, and jobs in the field range from $46,000 to $80,000 per year, on average. Continue reading for our list of the top online degrees offered in biology. Students who are researching biology programs are encouraged to choose a school that is accredited by a reputable accrediting agency. Read on for more information about accreditation, as well as to learn more about career opportunities and answers to frequently asked questions about online biology degrees.

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Online Bachelor's in Biology with the Highest Return on Investment

2021 Best Online Colleges Offering Bachelor's Degrees in Biology Badge

ROIs for the top online biology degrees range from $182,400 to $504,500. We calculated ROI by determining the expected alumni earnings over 10 years and subtracting payments for student debt. The top four schools on this list offer online biology degrees with ROIs above the national average of $278,300. University of Maryland Global Campus, ranked first on the list, has an annual tuition of $14,970 and a 10-year ROI of $504,500, nearly double the national average.

ROI amounts are based on data reported by the U.S. Department of Education. Tuitions are manually researched in order to determine tuition amounts specific to online degrees. Read our methodology for more details.

RankSchool Annual Tuition Median Starting Salary Median Debt 10-year ROI
# 1 #1 $14,970 $51,273 $18,750 $504,500
# 2 #2 $10,445 $35,274 $23,250 $334,200
# 3 #3 $11,829 $31,423 $20,265 $298,300
# 4 #4 $18,030 $31,284 $19,718 $297,500
# 5 #5 $14,310 $29,245 $23,297 $271,900
# 6 #6 $14,100 $25,315 $27,000 $260,800
# 7 #7 $12,549 $25,194 $18,716 $231,100
# 8 #8 $15,000 $22,914 $17,063 $214,600
# 9 #9 $10,376 $19,670 $16,163 $182,400

Best Bachelor's Degrees in Biology Rankings Details

#1

University of Maryland Global Campus

Adelphi (MD)
  • 10-Year ROI: $504,500
  • Median Salary: $51,273
  • Annual Tuition: $14,970
  • Median Debt: $18,750

The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) offers an online Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology. Graduates are prepared for careers in laboratory technology, chemical technology, bioinformatics, and more. Students in this degree completion program complete laboratory coursework and a biotechnology internship to graduate. The curriculum focuses on real-world applications and... includes coursework on exploring vaccine development and genome analysis.

Online coursework is asynchronous and hosted on the LEO learning platform. Digital textbooks are offered to online students to help reduce the overall cost of education. UMGC’s flexible transfer credit options offer credit for prior college-level coursework and professional or military experience. UMGC faculty have credentials and experience in the field of biotechnology. Career services offered to students and alumni include career tools and resources, career planning and advice, and job and internship assistance.

Applicants must have completed an Associate of Science degree with lower-level college coursework in microbiology, genetics, laboratory, and biotechnology applications. Prospective students must submit an online application to apply.

Cost per Credit: $499
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 15%
Financial Aid Recipients: 53%
Accreditation: MSCHE
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 36,550

#2

Kean University

Union (NJ)
  • 10-Year ROI: $334,200
  • Median Salary: $35,274
  • Annual Tuition: $10,445
  • Median Debt: $23,250

Kean University offers a fully online Bachelor of Arts in Biology degree. This program is intended for students who want to pursue careers in health or teaching. Students have the opportunity to study abroad at Kean’s campus in China, become members of the Tri Beta National Biological Honor Society, and attend annual Jean Research Days events to present research conducted alongside... faculty. To graduate, students must complete a seminar in integrative biology and may undertake an optional internship for credit.

Online courses are asynchronous and hosted through the Blackboard learning management system. Kean offers a tuition discount for veterans and first-year students. There is a flat-rate tuition fee for full-time and part-time students. Students graduate with 32% less debt than the national average. The career services office assists students in finding an internship and preparing them for their careers. Kean students have the opportunity to network online with school clubs and professional organizations, and graduates can join the alumni global network.

To apply, prospective students must submit an online application. Online students have access to 24/7 support services, tutoring, and academic advising.

School Type: Non-Profit
Graduation Rate: 49%
Acceptance Rate: 82%
Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
Average SAT Scores: 890 - 1080
Accreditation: MSCHE
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 380

#3

Washington State University

Pullman (WA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $298,300
  • Median Salary: $31,423
  • Annual Tuition: $11,829
  • Median Debt: $20,265

Washington State University (WSU) offers an online Bachelor of Science in Biology degree completion program. The curriculum provides students with a broad understanding of the biological sciences, including molecular and cellular biology, as well as scientific research, design, and communications. To graduate, students must complete a capstone course in contemporary genetics. The... introductory to human physiology course requires students to attend campus for one weekend.

At WSU, students use the Blackboard Learn system to access their coursework. WSU faculty are experts in the biological sciences field. Online students have access to a dedicated career counselor that assists students in career exploration, internship search strategies, guidance, and feedback on resumes, cover letters, and interviewing. WSU offers several scholarships for online students, including the ASWSU Global Scholarship and Internship scholarship.

To apply, students must submit an online application. Prospective students are required to complete several science courses in organic chemistry, physics, and biology before applying. Once enrolled, online learners have access to academic advising, tech resources, tutoring, military and veteran support, and library services.

School Type: Non-Profit
Graduation Rate: 59%
Acceptance Rate: 73%
Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
Average SAT Scores: 1020 - 1210
Accreditation: NWCCU
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,352

#4

Arizona State University

Tempe (AZ) (and 4 others)
  • 10-Year ROI: $297,500
  • Median Salary: $31,284
  • Annual Tuition: $18,030
  • Median Debt: $19,718

Arizona State University (ASU) offers a fully online Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. The program offers concentrations in biology and society, biomedical sciences, and conservation biology and ecology. To graduate, students must complete an internship and undergraduate research course. Graduates can further their education by applying to graduate school or seek employment... in the fields of biotechnology, education, government, or industry. The program includes all of the courses (chemistry, biochemistry, math, and physics) needed to prepare students for MCAT medical school exams and other graduate programs in the field.

Asynchronous online courses are interactive and delivered on the Canvas learning platform, where students can access videos, simulations, and labs. More than 70% of ASU students receive financial assistance every year. Students can apply for institutional scholarships offered by ASU and individual colleges and departments by using the ASU Scholarship Application Portal. ASU Online students have access to student services and career counselors, virtual career fairs, online resume reviews, virtual interview practice, and more. Within six months of graduation, more than 90% of graduates were employed. ASU graduates can join the ASU Alumni Association to connect and network with fellow graduates.

Applicants can submit an online application, and there are six start dates per year. ASU Online students have access to student services, such as academic advisors, counseling, financial services, and time-management tools, free online storage, and a 24/7 help center with live chat.

School Type: Non-Profit
Graduation Rate: 66%
Acceptance Rate: 76%
Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
Average SAT Scores: 1091 - 1298
Accreditation: HLC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 28,353

#5

Oregon State University

Corvallis (OR)
  • 10-Year ROI: $271,900
  • Median Salary: $29,245
  • Annual Tuition: $14,310
  • Median Debt: $23,297

Oregon State University (OSU) offers fully online biology programs that culminate in a Bachelor of Environmental Sciences-Aquatic Biology or a Bachelor of Science in Zoology. Both programs emphasize critical thinking and hands-on learning opportunities. The BS in Zoology coursework covers genetics, physiology, ecology, evolution, and conservation biology. Online students have the... option to add a minor to their program. Students may also participate in study abroad programs in zoology and biology. Summer courses and research opportunities are offered at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon.

Interactive online courses are delivered via video and include lectures and lab simulations. Some transfer credits are accepted that can apply towards degree requirements. Online tuition rates at OSU are the same for residents and non-residents. The Department of Integrative Biology faculty is nationally recognized in the field. Online learners can enroll in professional development courses that explore possible career paths and help develop interpersonal and communication skills.

Students must submit an online application to be considered. Once enrolled, online learners have access to student service representatives, success coaches, and exam proctoring services.

Cost per Credit: $318
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 180
Graduation Rate: 67%
Acceptance Rate: 79%
Financial Aid Recipients: 86%
Average SAT Scores: 1080 - 1310
Accreditation: NWCCU
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 5,306

#6

Unity College

Unity (ME)
  • 10-Year ROI: $260,800
  • Median Salary: $25,315
  • Annual Tuition: $14,100
  • Median Debt: $27,000

Unity College offers an online Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and Sustainable Aquaculture. Several concentrations are available in environmental GIS and environmental justice and social change, and more. Students in the program study how to grow and preserve marine organisms and environments. Students prepare for careers as marine biologists, aquaculturists, and biological... and fish hatchery technicians. The program can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. To graduate, students must complete a field research leadership and a transdisciplinary capstone.

Online classes are asynchronous and delivered through the Canvas learning management system. Students have access to video calling features, online discussion boards, pre-recorded lectures, and assignments. Unity offers a tuition guarantee for all students so tuition costs will remain the same throughout the length of the program. Active military and veteran students are eligible for reduced tuition rates. Students learn from faculty who are scientists working full time in the field. Unity College accepts transfer credits. Online students have access to career support services that include advising, graduate school planning, networking opportunities, and a job board.

Unity College offers eight start dates a year. To apply, students must submit an online application. Once enrolled, online students have access to academic support and tutoring services.

Cost per Credit: $470
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 66%
Acceptance Rate: 89%
Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
Accreditation: NECHE
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 17

#7

Life University

Marietta (GA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $231,100
  • Median Salary: $25,194
  • Annual Tuition: $12,549
  • Median Debt: $18,716

The online Bachelor of Science in Biology at Life University emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach and deep respect for all life. Students have the opportunity to work with other faculty and academic departments to perform independent study and research. Students complete courses in genetics, endocrinology, and immunology. Graduates can pursue advanced study in science or careers... as environmental technicians, animal technicians, public health administrators, and more.

Online coursework is delivered through Blackboard. Life University offers various scholarships for new and returning undergraduate students based on merit, need, or course of study. In-state and out-of-state online students pay the same per-credit tuition rate. The university’s career services department offers current students and alumni career planning, resume and cover letter writing assistance, and networking opportunities.

Prospective students must submit an online application to apply. Online learners have access to the library, IT help desk, academic support, tutoring, and other services.

Cost per Credit: $267
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 188
Graduation Rate: 33%
Acceptance Rate: 69%
Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
Average SAT Scores: 860 - 1070
Accreditation: SACS COC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 21

#8

University of Florida

Gainesville (FL)
  • 10-Year ROI: $214,600
  • Median Salary: $22,914
  • Annual Tuition: $15,000
  • Median Debt: $17,063

The University of Florida (UF) offers fully online Bachelor of Arts in Biology and BS in Microbiology and Cell Science degrees. The BA program provides students with a broad and interdisciplinary approach to the field. Students are prepared for careers in the fields of allied health, education, environmental, biotechnology, science journalism, research, pharmaceutical, or bioscience,... among others. The BS degree is designed for students intending to go to medical, dental, or veterinary school. Students in this program study molecular genetics, virology, bioinformatics, and more.

Online courses, delivered through Canvas, are asynchronous so students can complete coursework when convenient. UF has a reduced per-credit tuition rate available to online students; however, the cost varies between in-state and out-of-state students. UF online students are eligible for privately funded scholarships and grants. Active duty military and veterans may qualify for additional assistance and tuition waivers for out-of-state students. The Career Connections Center provides online students with support in major planning, career counseling, career preparation, interview preparation, online workshops, and more.

Admissions occur on a rolling basis. There are three start dates per year, and prospective students must submit their applications online to be considered. Online students have access to the UF Online OneStop Student Support team for assistance throughout their program.

Cost per Credit: $500
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 90%
Acceptance Rate: 42%
Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
Average SAT Scores: 1280 - 1440
Accreditation: SACS COC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,181

#9

Florida International University

Miami (FL)
  • 10-Year ROI: $182,400
  • Median Salary: $19,670
  • Annual Tuition: $10,376
  • Median Debt: $16,163

Florida International University (FIU) offers a fully online Bachelor of Arts in Biology available only to first-year college students. Students can choose from several concentrations, including Allied Health Profession, bio entrepreneur, health policy, environmental policy, pre-law, and science communication. To graduate, students must complete a senior seminar and fulfill foreign... language, global learning, and civics literacy elective requirements. Students in this online program are eligible to join FIU’s Honor College.

Online coursework is asynchronous and delivered on the Canvas learning management platform, where students can access assignments, interact with faculty and peers, use discussion boards, and participate in group projects. FIU offers various scholarships to online students, including the First Generation Scholarship based on academic merit. All online undergraduate students are paired with a success coach and have access to developmental opportunities, such as the Academy of Leaders development certification program. FIU’s biological sciences departments have research funding contracts worth more than $10 million annually with faculty that conducts research across the world.

The program starts in the Fall, Spring, and Summer. Prospective students can submit an online application. Online learners have access to benefits such as a student services portal, tutoring, technical assistance, health services, and support services.

Cost per Credit: $346
School Type: Non-Profit
Credits Required: 120
Graduation Rate: 58%
Acceptance Rate: 54%
Financial Aid Recipients: 89%
Average SAT Scores: 1090 - 1260
Accreditation: SACS COC
Undergrad Online Enrollment: 9,286

Online Biology Degree Overview & Career Information

Students in biology bachelor's degree programs take general education courses with an emphasis on mathematics and other sciences like chemistry and physics. Biology coursework includes classes in the origin of life, cells, genetics, organic evolution, phylogeny (the evolutionary history of organisms), plant form and function, animal form and function, and ecology. Students in bachelor's degree programs may take additional courses in biodiversity, anatomy and physiology, human genetics, microbiology, developmental biology, and bioethics.

Master's and doctoral degree programs prepare students to conduct original research in biology. Students take courses in biological statistics and learn how to design and conduct experiments, collect and analyze results, and report conclusions. Students take elective courses in advanced biology topics like scientific illustration, animal behavior, microbial diversity, environmental biology, and human evolution. Students seeking a master’s or doctoral degree in biology will find that the program concentrates on research; however, in an online setting, this is less prominent. Online graduate study concentrates on reading material and original writing, so, depending on your learning style, it can be even more challenging to earn a graduate degree online than it is in traditional school.

Online Bachelor's Degrees in Biology

Online bachelor's degrees in biology prepare students for successful careers in the biological sciences. Programs focus on building a strong foundation in cellular, ecological, evolutionary, molecular, and organismal biology. Prerequisites include calculus, physics, and statistics. Bachelor's degree programs require completion of 120 to 128 credits, which takes four years of full-time study.

Many students choose to major in biology because they are planning on going into a medical field like veterinary medicine, pharmacology, or nursing. Several different biology courses are included in the curriculum, and in some programs, students can choose to specialize in one particular area of biology. There will also be electives offered in everything from pharmacology and psychology to physiology and environmental sciences. Students can often choose to structure their degree program in a way that leads to further medical and graduate study.

The bachelor’s curriculum combines content from biology, biochemistry, and chemistry. Coursework covers topics such as anatomy and physiology, biology of sex, cancer biology, cell and molecular biology, chemistry, genetics, field ecology, medical terminology, molecular modeling, organic chemistry, organic evolution, and vertebrate physiology. The curriculum also teaches students about laboratory techniques in the field. Bachelor's programs usually require completion of a capstone course. Graduates of online programs may increase their job prospects by gaining laboratory experience through internships in a biological, medical, research, or other similar approved facility.

Employment opportunities for bachelor's graduates are available in agriculture, animal science, biotechnology, ecology, human medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, and wildlife management. Work settings include government agencies, industrial research facilities, and medical laboratories. Bachelor's degrees also help to establish a strong foundation for those who wish to pursue graduate studies in biochemistry, biotechnology, dentistry, forensics, medicine, or veterinary sciences.

The Importance of Accreditation

The purpose of accreditation is to provide public recognition that a school or individual degree program meets established academic standards. Attending a biology degree program provided by an accredited college or university helps ensure that you will receive a well-respected education. Students who plan to use a biology degree as the foundation for graduate study are especially encouraged to attend an accredited school. Only degrees and credits earned from accredited schools can be applied toward future degree programs.

Students can verify the accreditation status of a school on its website or via national or regional accrediting boards. The US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation also offer lists of accrediting agencies and accredited schools.

Career Opportunities for Biology Graduates

Graduates of bachelor's degree programs in biology can begin work as biological technicians helping scientists conduct research in laboratories. Biological technicians can work for colleges and universities, government agencies, research and development labs, and pharmaceutical companies. Graduates of online programs may increase their job prospects by gaining laboratory experience through internships.

Technicians looking to advance their careers may earn industry certifications. The American Society for Clinical Pathology is one professional organization that awards certification. Those who want to move into research careers or begin working in academia can earn master's and doctoral degrees.

Teaching is another career path open to graduates of bachelor's degree programs. Teacher certification requirements vary by state, but all states require high school teachers to hold at least a bachelor's degree. Prospective teachers may also be required to complete college courses in education and child psychology and complete supervised field work to earn certification. Some states require teachers to hold a master's degree in their subject area or in education.

Frequently Asked Questions About Biology Degrees

Which is better—a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in biology?

The right choice depends on what the career goals and interests of individual students are. In general, a Bachelor of Arts (BA) will offer a more well-rounded education. While focused on biology, a BA also includes liberal arts classes. If you aren’t sure what you want to do with your degree, this may be a better choice for you. The skills learned in humanities and liberal arts classes will be applicable in a wide range of careers. A Bachelor of Science is more focused on science and math classes, and will be good preparation for a technical or specified career path.

Is a BA in biology a good choice for medical school?

Yes. Data from the Association of American Medical Colleges shows more biological science majors applied and were admitted to medical schools than from any other major. Earning a biology degree is good preparation for medical school, although applicants from many other backgrounds are accepted each year, including from the humanities, math and statistics, and the social sciences.

What can graduates do with a biology degree without attending medical school?

What a biologist chooses to do in part depends on their area of expertise, specialization, and personal interests. Biology majors can find entry-level positions as research assistants, lab technicians, park rangers, physician liaisons, and science writers. Biologists may also pursue positions in ecology, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, healthcare, or even teaching, although these may require further credentials.

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