2024 Top Online Schools for Biology

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

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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.

School Selections

Allen County Community College

Students who complete an online Associate in Science with an emphasis in biology at Allen Community College should be able to transfer to a four-year school as a junior. The four-semester, 65-credit online program includes general studies courses and lower-division requirements for a biology degree, such as lab courses in biology, chemistry, and microbiology. Students who complete the online associate program may be able to transfer to schools such as Wichita State University, Kansas State University, or the University of Kansas. Online students have access to technical support and the college's library.

Bowling Green State University

The Master of Arts in Teaching Biology at Bowling Green is built for current 4th- through 9th-grade teachers who need to boost their math and science knowledge. The 35-credit program combines online and evening classes, with all five core courses available via distance ed. Enrollees should expect an emphasis on curriculum design and pedagogies. These are supplemented by 10 to 12 credits in specific subject areas, such as Life Science and Environmental Science. Lastly, learners complete a practicum to show they have integrated what they've learned into their classroom instruction.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University has three biology-related master's programs that are delivered in a 100-percent online format. Programs are offered in bioinformatics, biotechnology, and biotechnology enterprise and entrepreneurship. The Master of Science in Bioinformatics is a 11-course program that covers theory and practical elements of bioinformatics. The Master of Science in Biotechnology is a 10-course, thesis-optional program with five possible concentrations: biodefense, bioinformatics, biotech enterprise, regulatory affairs, or drug discovery. The Master of Biotechnology Enterprise and Entrepreneurship is a 10-course program for biotech professionals who want to start their own company. The interdisciplinary curriculum includes a practicum course. All these programs allow students to attend part time and to start in the fall, spring, or summer semester.

Michigan State University

The Biomedical Laboratory Diagnostics Program at Michigan State University has three online master's programs. The Master of Arts in Biomedical Laboratory Science is a 30-credit, non-thesis program that is open to applicants who have a bachelor's degree in science. The Master of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science is a 30-credit program that has a thesis and non-thesis option. Applicants must have a science background, and the college prefers applicants who are certified as a medical technologist or clinical laboratory scientist. The MS in Biomedical Laboratory Operations is a 31-credit, non-thesis program that prefers applicants with at least two years of work experience in a clinical lab setting.

  • Advanced Placement Credit

50,538 Students

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.

Texas A & M University-College Station

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University offers a range of online graduate degree programs that are related to the biological sciences. Options include a Master of Agriculture in Poultry Science and Master of Engineering in Biological and Agricultural Engineering, which has a focus on food engineering. The university also has online programs leading to Master of Science and Ph.D. in Plant Breeding. Online classes are asynchronous, and Texas A&M staffs a helpdesk 24/7 to assist students with technology issues.

  • Advanced Placement Credit

63,813 Students

University of Florida

The Bachelor of Arts in Biology at University of Florida is designed to give graduates options, whether they plan for a career in pharmaceuticals or epidemiology. Requirements cover staples in chemistry, physics, and molecular and cellular biology. That said, this interdisciplinary degree is explicitly not a pre-med or pre-vet program. Those students should instead turn their attention to the MS in Microbiology and Cell Science with a concentration in Medical Biology and Biochemistry. The curriculum, which can be completed in a year, nixes campus visits and laboratory sessions. Students without a baccalaureate in Biology must take two introductory courses.

  • Advanced Placement Credit

50,645 Students

University of Maryland-College Park

U.S. News & World Report ranked University of Maryland's online graduate engineering programs 33rd in 2018. The university puts a full-fledged Master of Engineering (MEng) in Bioengineering online, as well as a slimmed-down certificate. Necessary for admission into either is a baccalaureate in a field related to engineering, biology, chemistry or physics, as well as demonstrable fluency in calculus. The MEng is a 30-credit, non-thesis program with just three required courses: Modeling of Biological Systems, Application of Biomaterials, and Biological Transport Phenomena. The rest is electives. Certificate-seekers choose just one of the above courses and take three electives.

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.

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

The Applied Biostatistics Certificate at University of Minnesota Online is a a 16-credit graduate program. Applicants can shoot for fall, spring or summer start dates. They'll likely need a 3.0 undergraduate GPA plus current professional experience working with data. The program is comprised of six required courses, two of which are only available at the Twin Cities campus. They cover epidemiology, clinical trials and research and Bayesian statistical methods. Those who complete the program should be able to apply statistical analysis to challenges within biology and biomedicine.

  • Advanced Placement Credit

50,678 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.

University of Northern Colorado

The Master's in Biomedical Science (MBS) at UNC Online covers genetics, physiology and clinical research basics via its core curriculum. Electives, which make up half of the 30-credit program, include Virology, Pharmacology and Cancer Biology. Rather than take a thesis or complete a practicum, students must pass a comprehensive exam to graduate. A one-year degree, the MBS requires applicants to hold a baccalaureate and is best-suited for students headed toward PhDs or into careers related to medicine, pharmaceuticals or even dentistry. Since it's an intensive program, the MBS jumps straight into advanced material, meaning students should already have taken plenty of Biology courses as undergraduates.

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.

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.

  • Advanced Placement Credit

29,686 Students

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.

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