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2021 General Biology Degree Guide

Are you interested in the study of life? A major in General Biology will allow you to study life in all forms: animals, plants, bacteria, and fungi. This includes in-depth research on different organisms, their communities, and their systems, cells, and processes that permit life.

Biology is a hands-on subject that will allow you to learn through experiments and doing. Students participate in labs and write reports on their findings. Biology will also cover how different organisms have survived and evolved over time. This major will allow you to study biology generally or biomedical sciences.

Courses may include: biochemistry, evolutionary biology, general biology, genetics, invertebrate biology, marine biology, microbiology, plant anatomy, and zoology.

General Biology Degrees Growing in Popularity

#5 Most Popular Major
98.6k Degrees Awarded
2.9% Increase in Graduates

In 2018-2019, general biology was the 5th most popular major nationwide with 98,638 degrees awarded. This represents a 2.9% increase in biology degrees awarded over the prior year's total of 95,805.

There are 1,638 schools offering degrees in general biology in the United States. This year's Best Colleges for General Biology ranking compares 630 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of biology programs later in this article.

General Biology Degree Requirements

Biology students are often first attracted to the subject due to a love of nature, plants and animals. You will spend a great deal of time exploring and learning about life and the behaviors that go along with it. Working in the field as well as working with animals should not intimidate you. You will also have the opportunity to work with advanced science tools like microscopes.

Studying biology is exciting and invigorating, but can include long hours in the lab performing repetitive tasks. Math and science will make up a large part of your course work. Even though your first love is science, don't forgo English. Clearly communicating scientific concepts through writing is an essential skill that can set you apart from others.

Working with others is important in this major. You will frequently work in study groups and with a lab partner. Critical thinking and a sharp memory will be necessary for your success. Students will be required to take copious notes of their experiments and faithfully record outcomes.

Biology Degree Program Entry Requirements

general biology degree applicants generally need have finished high school or their GED. Many schools may also have GPA and SAT/ACT score minimums that must be met. Once you obtain your degree, additional biology certifications required to pursue a career in this field.

General Biology Degree Types

There are many different biology degree levels. You can spend many years getting as high as a research / scholarship based doctorate's in general biology to something that takes less time like a associate's. Different general biology degrees vary in how long they take.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to biology, with approximately 34.3% of workers getting one. People currently working in careers related to biology tend obtained the following education levels.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 34.1%
Master’s Degree 20.0%
Doctoral Degree 18.5%
Post-Doctoral Training 18.2%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 4.2%

Most workers in biology have at least a master's degree. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in general biology have obtained.


This of course varies depending on which biology career you choose.

Career Opportunities for A Degree In Biology Graduate

Above Average Number of Jobs
$28.2k Average Starting Salary
9% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

With a degree in general biology you have number of different career opportunities available to you. You can become a biological scientist, clinical laboratory technologist, biology teacher, forensic scientist, medical scientist, or science technician. Some students whill also choose to continue their education in graduate school. Biology majors can go on to become veterinary or medical professionals with additional education.

Solid Growth Projected for Biology Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your biology degree? General Biology careers are expected to grow 8.6% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to general biology.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
High School Teachers 1,095,500 7.5%
Medical Scientists 136,100 13.4%
Biological Science Professors 71,700 15.1%
Natural Sciences Managers 62,300 9.9%
Biological Scientists 41,800 8.0%

How Much Money Do People With a Biology Degree Make?

Recently graduated general biology students earned an average of $28,210 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $9,400 to as high as $168,000. As you might expect, salaries for biology graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for Biology Majors

Salaries for general biology graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers biology grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Natural Sciences Managers $139,680
Biological Science Professors $97,340
Medical Scientists $96,420
Life Scientists $89,150
Biological Scientists $83,600

Getting Your General Biology Degree

With over 3,110 different biology degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased biology school rankings to help you with this.

Study Areas in General Biology

One of 14 majors within the Biological & Biomedical Sciences area of study, General Biology has other similar majors worth exploring.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology 14,004
Neurobiology & Neurosciences 9,504
Physiology & Pathology Sciences 7,844
Ecology, Evolution & Systematics Biology 6,987
Cell Biology & Anatomical Sciences 5,671

View All Biology Related Majors >


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