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2021 Genetics Degree Guide

Do you ever wonder why you have green eyes and your sister has blue eyes? In the study of Genetics you will follow in the footsteps of that famous monk, Gregor Mendel, who discovered how physical traits were passed through observing generations of peas. He pioneered the research in genetics, how DNA works, and the four letter codes that DNA is made up of.

During your time as a Genetics major you will learn all aspects of cell growth, reproduction, and mutations. Mutations are responsible for cancer as well as a host of other diseases. You will also explore Darwin's theory of natural selection.

Some of the courses you will take are: biochemistry, populations genetics, developmental genetics, molecular genetics, evolutionary genetics, genetic data analysis, human genetics, chemistry, advanced mathematics, biology, organic chemistry.

Concentrations in this major include: Molecular Genetics; Microbial and Eukaryotic Genetics; Animal Genetics; Plant Genetics; Human and Medical Genetics; and Genome Sciences. This major is most often offered as a Master's or Ph.D. However, some schools offer it as a Bachelor's degree.

Genetics Degrees Decreasing

#218 Most Popular Major
1.3k Degrees Awarded
-4.0% Increase in Graduates

In 2018-2019, genetics was the 218th most popular major nationwide with 1,326 degrees awarded. This 53 less than the prior year, a decrease of 4.0%.

The United States has 22 different schools where you can get a degree in genetics. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of genetics programs later in this article.

Requirements for Getting a Degree in Genetics

The study of genetics can be quite fascinating, but it also can take a lot of work and dedication. A passion for science and discovery will help you get through long hours studying math and science and memorizing formulas. You will also be studying evolution and history. Curiosity, innovation and ability to adapt to new technology will aid you. Do not get frustrated; persistence is the key to success in this major.

You will be working closely with peers and professors for a variety of group projects. Interpersonal and teamwork skills will aid you in completing these projects. Communication skills will help you write clearly when reporting your discoveries in lab, as well as complete research papers. Time management and organization will help you balance time spent in the lab with your other assignments.

Getting Accepted Into a Genetics Program

genetics 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 genetics certifications required to pursue a career in this field.

Genetics Degree Types

There are various different levels of genetics degrees. You can get anything from a bachelor's degree in genetics to the highest genetics degree, a research/scholarship based doctorate. Depending on the genetics degree you choose, obtaining your diploma can take anwhere from 1 to 4+ years.

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 doctor's degree (research / scholarship) is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to genetics, with approximately 25.9% of workers getting one. See the the most common levels of education for genetics workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Post-Doctoral Training 31.5%
Doctoral Degree 26.4%
Bachelor’s Degree 22.1%
Master’s Degree 13.5%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 2.0%

56.7% of genetics workers have at least a research/scholarship based doctorate. See the chart below for the most common degree level workers in genetics have received.


The education level required is different depending on the genetics career you are seeking.

Career Opportunities for Genetics Majors

Average Number of Jobs
$31.2k Average Starting Salary
12% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

Most people interested in this field will continue their education to get a minimum of a master's degree. You may also decide to focus on medicine, veterinary medicine, or biology in graduate school.

If you do not want to continue your education, genetics majors can also find work upon graduating in a number of fields. Some options include government or independent research, agricultural laboratories, botanical gardens, national parks or private research.

Solid Growth Projected for Genetics Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your genetics degree? Genetics careers are expected to grow 12.3% between 2016 and 2026.

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

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
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 Genetics Grads Make?

Recently graduated genetics students earned an average of $31,167 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $25,300 to as high as $37,100. As you might expect, salaries for genetics graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


High Paying Careers for Genetics Majors

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

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

Getting Your Genetics Degree

With over 225 different genetics 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 genetics school rankings to help you with this.

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

Related Major Annual Graduates
General Biology 98,638
Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology 14,004
Neurobiology & Neurosciences 9,504
Physiology & Pathology Sciences 7,844
Ecology, Evolution & Systematics Biology 6,987

View All Genetics Related Majors >


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