2022 Best Online Biology Degrees

By James Holbrook | Updated 7/27/2022

Online bachelor’s in biology programs provide a foundation in biological sciences covering cell biology, human anatomy, genetics, microbiology, chemistry, and more. Online bachelor's degrees in biology offer a flexible way to earn a degree and prepare students to meet their goals. With an online bachelor’s degree in biology, students have a range of career opportunities they can pursue after graduation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the highest-earning careers for graduates with a bachelor's degree in biology are chemists and materials scientists, who earn an annual salary of $79,760, while microbiologists trail close behind at $79,260. 

To help students find the right school for them, we've ranked the best online degrees according to a program's alumni salary. View our methodology for more details about our list or learn more about OnlineU.

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List Of Accredited Online Schools

School Online Enrollment Salary Score Median Starting Salary
Southern New Hampshire University Online 106,375 106,375 NA NA NA NA
American Public University System 45,249 NA NA
Florida International University 13,671 4 $18,353
Oregon State University 7,467 45 $27,013
University of Arizona 5,073 28 $24,577
University of Florida 4,430 9 $20,444
Washington State University 3,574 61 $29,208
Kean University 642 88 $34,115
Florida National University-Main Campus 442 NA NA
Life University 94 33 $25,252

Kean University

  • Salary Score: 88
  • Median Starting Salary: $34,115
  • Locations: Union (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

At Kean University (Kean), a medium, public university, students can pursue an online Bachelor of Arts in Biology or a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Both programs, which require 120 credit hours each to complete, immerse students in research and travel opportunities to prepare them for careers in the national sciences or beyond. Sample coursework includes Zoology Form and Function, Intro to Environmental Science, and Principles of Genetics.

Online students at Kean complete coursework on the learning management platform Blackboard. Student services include disability support and counseling. Kean’s general admission requirements include submitting an application, official transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores.

Washington State University

  • Salary Score: 61
  • Median Starting Salary: $29,208
  • Locations: Pullman (WA)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Washington State University (WSU), a large, public institution, offers an online Bachelor of Science in Biology requiring 120 credit hours. This program covers molecular biology, physiology, plant development, and cell biology. Prospective industries that graduates may decide to work in include research centers, hospitals, and wildlife rescue centers, to name a few.

At WSU, students can submit coursework in an asynchronous format on Canvas. In addition, career advising, academic advising, tech assistance, and tutoring are some of WSU’s student support services. Program requirements include completing a minimum of 19 semester credit hours of biology classes as well as an additional 21 credit hours of biological sciences.

Oregon State University

  • Salary Score: 45
  • Median Starting Salary: $27,013
  • Locations: Corvallis (OR)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Oregon State University (OSU) is a large, public institution offering several online Bachelor of Science programs: a (1) Bachelor of Science in Botany, (2) Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences (with an optional Aquatic Biology concentration), and (3) Bachelor of Science in Zoology. Each program, requiring 180 credit hours to complete, covers various biological sciences specialties for students to pursue. All three program curriculums cover different topics, such as chemistry, ecology, and genetics.

OSU’s online students must complete coursework in synchronous and asynchronous formats on Canvas. Student resources at OSU are success coaching, tutoring, technical help, and more. OSU’s admission requirements include an application and official high school or college transcripts.

Life University

  • Salary Score: 33
  • Median Starting Salary: $25,252
  • Locations: Marietta (GA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Life University (LU) is a small, private nonprofit institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Biology. Totaling 188 credit hours, the program provides a strong foundation for students interested in biological science careers. Sample courses include Organic Chemistry I, Cell Biology, and Endocrinology.

At LU, online students complete coursework asynchronously on Blackboard. Online student support at LU includes disability services, career advising, and IT help. LU’s admission requirements are a minimum 2.0 GPA on high school transcripts or passing GED score, ACT, SAT, or ACCUPLACER scores, and an application.

University of Arizona

  • Salary Score: 28
  • Median Starting Salary: $24,577
  • Locations: Tucson (AZ)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Arizona (UArizona) is a large, public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Biology that consists of 120 credit hours. The program has several emphases students can choose from, such as Biomedical Sciences and Organismal Biology. In addition, the program's sample core courses include Ecology, Foundations in Biochemistry, and Genetics.

UArizona delivers online coursework to students through the online learning management system, D2L. In addition, the institution’s online student support services include tutoring, academic success specialists, librarian consultations, disability resources, etc. UArizona’s admission requirements include submitting an application and official transcripts.

University of Florida

  • Salary Score: 9
  • Median Starting Salary: $20,444
  • Locations: Gainesville (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Florida (UF) is a large, public university offering two fully online biology programs: (1) Bachelor of Arts in Biology and (2) Bachelor of Science in Microbiology & Cell Science. Each total 120 credit hours. Potential jobs for graduates of both programs include a pharmacist’s assistant, biometrician, and conservation biologist.

UF allows online students to complete coursework asynchronously on Canvas. Online student support at UF includes academic advising, career planning, and counseling. Admission requirements for both programs include submitting an online application, having an overall minimum GPA of 2.5 for transferable college credits, and completing prerequisites with a grade of C or higher.

Florida International University

  • Salary Score: 4
  • Median Starting Salary: $18,353
  • Locations: Miami (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Florida International University (FIU) — a large, public institution — offers a fully online Bachelor of Arts in Biological Sciences totaling 120 credit hours. The program includes tracks (or concentrations), such as (1) Quantifying Biology in the Classroom (QBIC), (2) Marine Biology, and (3) Biology Education (FIUteach). Sample core courses include General Biology I, Biology Career Planning, and Cellular Chemistry.

At FIU, students complete coursework synchronously on Canvas. Online support for students include success coaching and tutoring. In addition, prospective students must submit an online application, ACT or SAT scores, and official high school transcripts.

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Online Bachelor's Degrees in Biology

Online bachelor's degrees in biology are designed to prepare students for careers in the biological sciences by building a strong foundation in cellular, ecological, evolutionary, molecular, and organismal biology. Many students choose to major in biology because they are planning to go into a medical field, such as veterinary medicine, pharmacology, or nursing. In some online programs, students can choose to specialize in one particular area of biology. Students may increase their future job prospects by gaining laboratory experience through internships in a biological, medical, research, or other approved facility.

The bachelor’s curriculum for an online biology degree combines content from biology, biochemistry, and chemistry, and it usually requires the completion of a capstone course. Core coursework for a biology major covers topics such as anatomy and physiology, cell and molecular biology, and organic chemistry. Prerequisites often include calculus, physics, and statistics. There are also electives offered in various subject areas, such as psychology and physiology. Students can choose to structure their degree program in a way that leads to graduate study.



Online bachelor's degrees in biology are designed to prepare students for careers in the biological sciences by building a strong foundation in cellular, ecological, evolutionary, molecular, and organismal biology.

How Long Does It Take To Earn a Biology Degree Online?

Online biology programs are designed to be completed in four years of full-time study, although many students take longer. Whether students are pursuing a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Biology, they will generally need to complete 120-126 credit hours. Typically, half of these credits are for general education courses and the other half are for biology courses.

Students may find it helpful to look at the graduation rates for individual schools and programs to gauge how long it might take to earn their degree.

These rates indicate how many students graduate within a given time frame. Many graduation rates measure how many students have completed their degree after 6 years of enrolling in a bachelor's program. You can look for this information on individual school websites or by using the National Center for Education Statistics' College Navigator tool.

Which Is Better — a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Biology?

The right choice depends on your career goals and interests.

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, as the skills learned will be applicable in a wide range of careers.

A BS is more focused on science and math classes. This educational pathway would be helpful preparation if you are interested in a technical or specified career path, such as a medical field.

Applying to an Online Biology Program

The admission requirements and application process for bachelor's in biology programs are the same whether a student plans to take on-campus or online courses or some combination of the two. 

Some colleges require applicants to have completed a few prerequisite courses before enrolling in a biology program. The prerequisites vary by school, but may include natural sciences, calculus, physics, English, and history. Students are often required to have a minimum 2.0 GPA in these courses to qualify. Additionally, some schools require new enrollees to take placement exams before registering for courses.

To apply to an online biology program, applicants must submit In summary, colleges may request the following items:

  • An application form (and often an application fee)
  • Official high school transcripts showing a minimum 2.5 GPA
  • Official college transcripts (if applicable)
  • Test scores from standardized tests, such as the SAT or ACT
  • One or more letters of recommendation
  • An essay or personal statement
  • A list of extracurricular activities and jobs, especially leadership positions

Common Courses in Online Biology Programs

Most biology programs encompass a wide range of fields and disciplines, from humanities courses — such as speech communication and world literature — to math courses, including calculus and statistics. In addition to a core set of biology courses in these programs, most feature electives such as microbiology, botany, or zoology. Students graduate with a number of valuable skills in communication, research, and analysis. 

Below are some of the most common biology courses in a bachelor's degree program, whether online or in-person:

General Biology

In this introductory course — typically the first in any biology program — students are given a broad overview of life and living organisms. After learning how all organisms are made up of cells, students explore how hereditary information is encoded in genes. Of particular interest is the role of genes in the human body and how they influence our health and lifespan.

Evolution

This course examines the history and development of plants, animals, and single-celled organisms. Some of the topics covered include patterns of biological diversity, genome sequencing, animal behavior, and natural selection. Students learn how species interact within ecosystems and how environmental factors can affect evolution.

Organic Chemistry

Building upon knowledge obtained in a general biology course, students explore the molecular structure of cells. Additionally, students learn about the properties, reactions, and preparation of the carbon-containing compounds produced by living organisms.

Organic Chemistry or General Biology Lab

Biology programs often include hands-on lab courses in biology, chemistry, or both. They give students the opportunity to observe, experience, and experiment with scientific phenomena. In the online environment, students engage in experiments by conducting them at home using everyday objects or lab kits — typically available from the school for a fee — or by watching simulations or online demonstrations.

Physics

This course explores the most basic study of physical science. Coursework covers the structure of matter, how objects interact, and how energy and various types of force influence the way matter moves and behaves. Students learn to consider objects from both a macroscopic and submicroscopic level to try to understand scientific phenomena.

Career Opportunities for Biology Graduates

Although biology is a flexible major that can lead you to pursue a number of different directions, many students opt for careers in the health and medical field or education. After earning bachelor's degrees in biology, graduates can move directly into the workforce or continue working toward advanced degrees, such as a Master of Science in Biology, a Master of Education with a biology focus, or a Master of Environmental Science, to name a few options. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides a wealth of information on biology careers, and we list a few of the most popular biology jobs below:

Annual Median Salary: $57,800
Job Outlook: 11%

These professionals, who typically hold bachelor's degrees, can be found working in hospitals and other health care facilities. Using specialized equipment, they analyze and conduct tests on samples of body fluids or tissue to help determine patients' health status.

Annual Median Salary: $95,310
Job Outlook: 17%

Biology graduates who go on to complete a doctoral program in one of the sciences can become medical scientists. These professionals find work in research facilities at corporations, universities, and hospitals, where they conduct various types of research projects designed to improve human health.

Annual Median Salary: $79,260
Job Outlook: 5%

Biological technicians usually hold bachelor’s degrees. They may work with wildlife biologists, medical researchers, or in the private industry to analyze experimental data, administer new medicines to test subjects, and monitor production processes. Biological technicians use both traditional laboratory equipment and specialized computer software to collect, analyze, and model data.

Annual Median Salary: $64,650
Job Outlook: 5%

These professionals, who typically hold bachelor's degrees, work to protect species from threats, predict the spread of diseases, and study ecosystems. Zoologists usually work with a specific type of animal, while wildlife biologists study specific ecosystems and/or animal populations.

Is an Online Biology Degree Worth It?

Deciding whether to pursue an online bachelor’s degree in biology requires careful consideration. Prospective students may want to examine some of the specific advantages and disadvantages: 

Potential Benefits

This is a versatile degree. Pursuing a bachelor's degree in biology helps students develop valuable skills, such as critical thinking, analysis, and communication, which are useful in many fields beyond health care and science.

Careers in biology-related fields are growing. Holding a bachelor’s degree in biology can lead to a higher-than-average chance of employment. Of the top 10 career fields individuals with a bachelor’s degree enter, seven have a higher than average growth expectation. The median salary for biology-related fields is $65,000 which is also higher than average.

Online biology programs can be convenient. Studying biology online allows students to enroll in the best program that fits their academic interests and financial needs without having to move to a different location.

Potential Drawbacks

A bachelor's degree may have limitations compared to more advanced degrees in this field. A fairly high number of biology professionals — 58%, according to the BLS — have earned advanced degrees so graduates may need to consider earning at least a master's degree to be competitive in this field.

Online programs can be isolating. For some students, online programs can cause them to feel isolated from classmates and instructors. This means they may have to work harder to connect with others through online discussion forums.

It may be harder to work or perform research during the COVID-19 pandemic, which society will be struggling with for decades to come.According to a 2020 research study by Genome Biology, 77% of institutions were shut down during the beginning of the pandemic and 49% of scientists reported their research was slowed down. New and improved online collaborative platforms have made working and researching from home easier, but there are still drawbacks to travel restrictions and the dangers of in-person experiments.

Students also need to factor in their own personal circumstances, such as budget constraints and work and family obligations. Ultimately, individuals must decide for themselves whether the benefits they expect to receive from earning a biology degree are worth the investment of time, money, and energy.

Accreditation

Students pursuing online degrees in biology should ensure the schools they're considering are accredited. For an institution of higher education, accreditation occurs when all of the college's programs, faculty, and student resources are evaluated and approved by an independent agency that has been sanctioned by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education. Individual programs within a school can also be accredited by other approved agencies, and some biology programs have earned this additional programmatic accreditation from the American Society for Microchemistry and Molecular Biology.

Choosing an accredited program offers three main benefits:

1

Perhaps most important, accreditation assures students they're enrolled in a credible online degree program that meets high standards for quality and academic rigor. 

2

Enrollment in an accredited school is also a requirement to qualify for financial aid and for acceptance into most graduate programs. 

3

Finally, depending on a student's career path, it may be a requirement for obtaining licensure.

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