2017 Top Online Schools for Biology

Scroll down to see the top not-for-profit colleges offering biology degrees online.

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School Rankings


Loyola University Chicago

The Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics at Loyola University in Chicago offers the following programs in bioethics: Master of Arts (MA) in Bioethics and Health Policy, Doctor of Bioethics (DBioethics), and a certificate in bioethics. Many of the required courses for these degrees are available online. The credits earned for the certificate (a total of 12) may be applied towards the MA degree. A concentration in Catholic healthcare ethics is available for the certificate program. The DBioethics degree is a hybrid program that is comprised of asynchronous online courses as well as brief on-campus intensive sessions. Students accepted to the DBioethics program have the option of selecting an area of specialization from the following tracks: clinical bioethics, organizational bioethics, and Catholic bioethics.


University of Southern California

The Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California offers an online Master of Science degree in biomedical engineering. The program follows a blended delivery format that allows students to access courses asynchronously and interact with their classmates and instructors during scheduled on-campus sessions. Students who follow a full-time plan of study typically earn the degree within two years. Part-time plans of study are also possible. The biomedical engineering curriculum includes coursework in a wide range of topics such as advanced studies of the nervous system, brain theory and artificial intelligence, physiological control systems, mathematical pattern recognition, and advance biomedical imaging. Students have the option of completing the program by writing a thesis or by taking the required coursework only.


University of Maryland-University College

UMUC offers an online Bachelor of Science degree in biotechnology that combines upper level coursework and laboratory skills with an internship experience to provide students with the necessary skills for careers in the pharmaceutical and biomedical fields. Students accepted to the program take classes in molecular and cellular biology, bioinformatics, biological science, laboratory management and safety, and current trends and application in the life sciences. To customize their program, students can take electives in chemistry, immunology, physics, or virology. An online minor in biology is also available. UMUC offers an online Master of Science in Biotechnology program with four areas of specialization: bioinformatics, biosecurity and biodefense, biotechnology regulatory affairs, and biotechnology management. A 15-credit certificate in bioinformatics is also offered.


Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University offers a Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics (MSBI) degree that is approved by the Electronic Campus program of the Southern Regional Education Boards (SREB). The program is available online and administered by the College of Osteopathic Medicine in collaboration with the College of Engineering and Computing. Applicants with a degree in the health professions or computer information science are given priority. Students accepted to the program are required to complete 43 credit hours to earn the MSBI degree. The curriculum includes coursework in topics such as system analysis and design in health care, epidemiology, and health policy, planning, and management. Students can choose from a variety of elective courses to help them customize their course of study.


Western Kentucky University

The Ogden College of Science and Engineering at Western Kentucky University offers a Master of Science in Biology degree that can be pursued online. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree in biology or in a similar field in order to be considered for admission. The online program is a non-thesis option, which means students can earn the degree without enrolling in any on-campus class. The non-thesis option requires students to complete a graduate-level project instead. Online students can still choose the thesis option, but doing so may require them to take courses on campus. Both thesis and non-thesis options require students to complete over 30 hours of coursework. A supervised research experience is also a requirement for the degree.

CAG Score 93.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

20,171 Students


Medical College of Wisconsin

The Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities at the Medical College of Wisconsin offers an executive-style Master of Arts in Bioethics degree that can be pursued online. The program is designed for mid-career professionals and includes clinical, didactic, and research components. The curriculum covers a wide range of subject matter including ethics and integrity in science, justice and healthcare, law and bioethics, and the history and meaning of ethics and professionalism in medicine. Although several courses required for the degree are available online, students must attend one intensive two-week summer session on campus. In order to graduate from the program, students must either write a thesis or complete an additional six credits of coursework and write a paper of publishable quality.


George Mason University

The College of Science at George Mason University offers a Master of Science degree in bioinformatics and computational biology that can be pursued 100 percent online. Students must complete a minimum of 31 credits to earn the degree. Most classes are delivered synchronously. The curriculum includes coursework in the following: bioinformatics programming, systems biology, bioinformatics methods, and molecular cell biology for bioinformatics. Students can opt to write a thesis or complete a research project in order to graduate from the program. Students employed at local biotechnology organizations may be eligible to receive credit for their work experience. A 15-credit graduate certificate in bioinformatics and computational biology is also available. Students who complete this certificate can apply the credits towards the MS degree.

CAG Score 95.3

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

33,729 Students


University of Nebraska at Kearney

The University of Nebraska in Kearney offers a Master of Science in Biology degree that can be pursued online. The program is comprised of 36 credits and does not require students to write a thesis in order to complete the degree. Applicants with an undergraduate degree in biology are given preference in admission. Students accepted to the program are required to enroll in classes that cover topics such as organic evolution, biological statistics, biological research, and current issues in biology. Lectures are available to students asynchronously. An additional 18 credits in electives is required for the completion of the degree, giving students ample opportunity to customize their program by taking elective courses that support their interests and academic and career goals.

CAG Score 95.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

6,902 Students


Brandeis University

Students accepted to the online Master of Science in Bioinformatics program at Brandeis University are trained to organize and interpret genomic data in order to produce complex and more accurate biological models. They must enroll in six required courses and take four electives in order to complete the 30 credits needed for the degree. The required coursework covers essential topics in bioinformatics, including statistical genetics, structural bioinformatics, biological sequence analysis, and mathematical modeling for bioinformatics. Students can choose from electives that explore topics such as computational systems biology, molecular biology, genetics, and disease, and biological data integration. Applicants must have completed undergraduate-level work in molecular biology, organic chemistry, statistics, and Java, C++ or C programming to be considered for the program.

CAG Score 95.1

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

5,945 Students


Washington State University

The Professional Science Master's in Molecular Biosciences degree offered at Washington State University equips science students with managerial and business skills that enable them to effectively bridge the gap between the academe and the workplace. Students admitted to the program have the option of pursuing the degree online, on campus, or by following a hybrid delivery format. Students are required to take courses in science, as well as in the following professional areas: ethics, communication, business focus, management, and skills seminar. The required science courses include cell biology, molecular biology, general biochemistry, and bioinformatics. The university's PSM program is the first of its kind in the state. The timely completion of a 320-hour internship experience is a requirement for the degree.

CAG Score 95.0

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

28,686 Students


National University of Health Sciences

To earn the Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science degree at the National University of Health Sciences (NUHS), students must complete at least 64 of the 124 credits required for the degree at the university. Students do not have to take any required courses, allowing them to customize their program by taking the classes that reflect their interests and support their academic and career goals. Classes are scheduled in the evenings or late afternoon hours, and a number of courses are available online. At the current time, students can complete the following courses for the degree over the Internet: advanced and basic nutrition, general microbiology, introduction to public health, immunology, epidemiology, research methods and statistics, pathophysiology, and introduction to botanicals and herbs.


University of Saint Joseph

The University of St. Joseph's offers a Master of Science in Biology degree that can pursued online and completed within two years. The program is part of the Connecticut Long Distance Learning Consortium (CTDLC) and accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Students are required to complete at least 24 credits from the department's course selection. Available courses cover a wide range of subject matter, including cell biology, endocrinology, genomics, psychopharmacology, human physiology, and the origins of life and early evolution. Students can complete a cluster of courses that will allow them to earn one of two certificates as they pursue their MS in Biology degree - the Emerging Infectious Diseases Certificate and the Integrative Genomics Certificate.


Miami University-Oxford

Miami University offers two graduate biology programs online in collaboration with the Global Field Program (GFP) - Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Biological Sciences and Master of Arts (MA) in Biology. Both programs require the completion of 35 credit hours consisting of three summer Earth Expedition field courses (21 credit hours), seven web-based Learning Community courses (14 credit hours), and an e-portfolio. Each program can be completed in approximately 2.5 years. MAT applicants must have teacher certification and possess an academic degree in education or in an education-related field. GFP summer Earth Expedition field courses are conducted in several locations throughout the world, including countries like Mongolia, Borneo, Costa Rica, and Australia, and in areas such as the Amazon rainforest.


Albany Medical College

The Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical Center offers an online Doctor of Professional Studies in Bioethics degree with concentrations in health ethics and policy and in clinical ethics consultation. Applicants are required to have a master's degree in bioethics or an equivalent degree. In order to graduate from the program, students must take 10 doctoral-level courses and complete one of the following: a traditional doctoral thesis, an advanced project, or two publishable articles. Students who pursue the clinical ethics consultation track will demonstrate an advanced-level mastery of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) core competencies at the end of their program. Health ethics and policy students are prepared for professional leadership roles in their field of study.


Eastern Virginia Medical School

Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) offers a Biomedical Sciences Research Master's Program with the following focus areas: cancer, cardiovascular biology, diabetes, infectious disease, neuroscience, and reproductive biology. The program is designed to be completed in two years. Students begin their first year of study by taking the required core curriculum courses. The second year of the program focuses more on each student's specific area of specialization. EVMS also offers a Biotechnology Master's Program with an accelerated format that can be completed in just 16 months. The program provides instruction in experimental design and molecular and cellular biology, as well as hands-on training in a wide range of modern research technologies. A six-month internship must be completed to earn the degree.


Clemson University

The College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences at Clemson University offers a Master of Science in Biological Sciences degree (non-thesis option) that can be pursued 100 percent online. The 30-hour program is principally designed for K-12 teachers, but is open to admitting non-K-12 as well as non-degree applicants with an interest in biological sciences. The GRE is not required for applicants who have at least one year of teaching experience. Courses can be accessed at any time and students can complete the program in six semesters by enrolling in two classes each term. The curriculum consists of coursework that cover essential topics including microbiology, ecology and ecosystems, the human body, genetics and evolutionary biology, cellular processes, and vertebrate biology.


Texas A & M University-Commerce

Texas A & M University Commerce offers a non-thesis Master of Science degree in biological sciences that can be earned 100 percent online. Students admitted to the program are required to complete 36 semester hours of pre-approved graduate-level courses. The completion of a 3-credit research paper is a requirement for the degree. There are several areas of interest that students can choose to focus on, such as epigenetics, wildlife biology, genomics, neuroscience, and bioremediation. The curriculum includes coursework in pharmacology, developmental biology, biogeography, evolution, and behavior and conservation. The program is designed for biology teachers seeking to acquire the educational credentials for college-level teaching. Students interested in continuing on to a Doctor of Philosophy degree are advised to explore the on-campus program.

CAG Score 96.2

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

12,111 Students


Harvard University

Harvard University offers a Master of Liberal Arts degree in the field of biology that can be pursued partially online. The program is comprised of nine courses and at least three of those courses must be taken on campus. In order to be considered for the program, students must first satisfactorily complete the following requirements: a proseminar on research methods and scholarly writing in the biological sciences, one biology field course, and an elective. Once accepted to the program, these courses are counted towards the degree. The curriculum includes a varied range of courses in topics such as stem cell and regenerative biology, evolution, biochemistry, genomics, and human endocrine physiology. Students must write a thesis in order to earn the degree.


New York University

The Master of Science in Bioinformatics offered at New York University prepares students to manage data from the life sciences by using different genome informatics tools and algorithms. All students are required to complete coursework in sequence analysis, protein structure, and functional prediction. In order to provide students with the opportunity to customize their program, electives are available in other areas of study such as microarray data analysis, probability and stochastic processes, and systems biology. The completion of either a thesis (9 credits) or guided studies (6 credits) is a requirements for the degree. There is also an online 12-credit Certificate in Bioinformatics program available. Up to 9 credits from the certificate program can be transferred to the MS program.

Evaluating Online Biology Degrees

Like chemistry and physics, biology is a hands-on field. That means universities and colleges are often reluctant to offer 100% online biology degrees. However, since distance learning is the way of the future, many schools have developed hybrid programs that combine online classes with local labs, internships, and fieldwork experiences. Some schools will even ship the lab work to you!

Look for universities and colleges that have:

  • Regional accreditation
  • Programs that arrange real-world internships, labs, and fieldwork opportunities in your local area
  • Solid “brick and mortar” reputation (e.g. top school rankings, strong research centers, and distinguished alumni)
  • The same faculty who teach on-campus courses teaching online
  • Dedicated distance learning support services
  • Career centers with strong job placement figures

Stay clear of schools with low completion rates and high student loan default rates.

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