A degree in biology is not only for those who want to become biologists or who want to teach biology and a basic training in the principles of biology is essential for those who want to work in such lucrative areas as medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine. There are indeed online biology degree programs available and, although there are not that many of them right now, it is only a matter of time before more of the on-campus degree programs are streamlined so as to be presented online.
Online Associate Degrees in Biology
At present there are no associate level degrees in biology offered online and, should students want to achieve this qualification, they should look at on-campus options. A typical associate degree will take two years to complete and will only give a student a broad introduction to whatever field the degree is in.
Online Master's Degrees in Biology
At present, three universities offer distance learning in the field of biology on the master's level. A master's level degree is a graduate degree and usually takes a student about two years to complete, which includes the completion of a thesis, or capstone, project. Those who study online can reduce this time considerably.
Master of Science in Biotechnology Studies - Bioinformatics: University of Maryland University College
Students who have graduated with this degree can find employment in positions such as computational biologist and biological database inspector. This degree focuses on the interaction between computational science and molecular biology and includes coverage of concepts like biostatics and gene expression analysis. Courses that are included in this degree are the core required courses and the specialization bioinformatics (BIFS) required courses and examples of these include:
- Societal issues in biotechnology (core required course);
- Statistical processes for biotechnology (BIFS required course);
- Java for biotechnology applications (BIFS required course); and
- Advanced bioinformatics (BIFS required course).
Students can contact UMUC directly should they require further information regarding this, and related, degree programs. The university administration office is to be found at 3501 University Boulevard, East Adelphi, MD 20783 (tel: 800-888-8682) or this website.
Online Doctoral Degrees in Biology
At present, there appear to be no online biology doctoral degrees available.
Career Opportunities and Salary Scales
Degrees in biology can prepare students for other fields of study include pre-medical, pre-pharmacy, pre-veterinary and pre-dental. In the world of biology itself, there are two career paths that a student can follow and these are health care related careers in molecular and cellular biology and field or 'organismal' biology careers. Health care related careers would include positions in fields like conservation and oceanography, industrial microbiology and biotechnology, as well as physiology, forensics and genetics. Careers in organismal biology occur in fields like ecology and environmental studies, herpetology, botany, ecology and animal behavior. Specific positions in, say, the health care related field of genetics would be the laboratory research assistant and the genetic counselor. On the other hand, specific positions in the field of herpetology (an organismal biology discipline) would include museum collection managers, zoo keepers and curators.
Studies have been undertaken to determine the average annual salaries of those working in both biology-based careers and careers that require only a grounding in biology and these have shown the following results:
- doctors (general practitioners) with 5 years of experience: $90,000 per year;
- pharmacist with 5 years of experience: $85,000 per year;
- neurological veterinary surgeon with 5 years of experience: $55,000 per year;
- general dentist with 5 years of experience: $90,000 per year;
- genetic counselor with 5 years of experience: $54,000 per year; and
- museum collection manager with 5 years of experience: $29,000 per year.
A degree in biology is a good thing to have if you plan on either working in one of the biology-based fields or qualifying in a related field like dentistry. Although it is not presently possible to earn either an associate degree or a doctorate in biology online, students should take advantage of the bachelor's and master's degrees online in biology as it is far more cost-effective to study online than it is to study on-campus.