Erudera's Complete Guide to Studying Biology in The US
Reasons to Study Biology in The US
Would You Like to Study at Highly-Qualified Universities?
United States universities rank among the very top across numerous national and international ranking lists. Whether you are from the United States or an international student, you will find numerous US universities among the top ten for biology. Universities like Harvard, MIT, Stanford, UCB, Yale, to name a few, are internationally ranked and highly qualified to provide world-class training and education. But, although these schools are valued for their academic expertise, it is fair to say that each US university you decide to attend will provide you with an exquisite education. Less competitive universities receive less attention but are equally qualified to prepare you for a global job market. Pursuing your biology degree in the United States, either at the undergraduate or graduate level, will open countless doors of opportunity. You will have the necessary skill set to tackle labor market challenges as well as the advantage of being a US graduate (fun fact: employers value US qualifications rather greatly).
Would You Like to Have a Rewarding & Challenging Career?
A rewarding and challenging career! For those who would like to experience the thrill that comes with a biology degree, you will experience it once you graduate from a US university. There are countless reasons why studying biology is an exceptional idea, but why study in the US? For starters, with the largest economy in the world, the United States offers pretty lucrative salaries (across different industries, including biology). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2020), the median annual salary for biological scientists is $83,600. The salary will vary with experience and career path, but it will be financially rewarding nevertheless. During studies, biology majors will gain theoretical knowledge and complement it with practical experience by undertaking fieldwork and laboratory work. US universities have the necessary resources and funding to provide students with the right amount of practical experience to help them excel in their chosen career paths (and a competitive market).
Would You Like to Receive Support and Personal Growth During Studies?
Maybe you have always wanted to pursue your degree in the United States, or perhaps the idea has just occurred to you. Whatever the case may be, you should rest assured that the United States is just the place you have imagined. World-class education, supportive academic staff, multicultural environment, and fascinating university campuses are just a few aspects that make students apply to US universities. As a biology major, you will be exposed to large quantities of school work (and large amounts of support from the academic staff). The experience of studying biology in the US will help you become a well-rounded and knowledgeable professional. Personal growth comes by being exposed to different cultures, perspectives, challenges, and experiences, but also by receiving an adequate amount of support, encouragement, and guidance from those around you - which is what you will receive in the United States.
Students wishing to pursue a degree in biology should have a general aptitude for subjects such as math, science, chemistry, and, of course, biology. Depending on the university, undergraduate applicants might be required to provide their SAT/ACT scores, while non-native English speakers will most definitely be required to provide proof of English language proficiency through standardized tests like the IELTS or TOEFL.
Application requirements for graduate programs in biology include the following:
- Academic transcripts (from any college/university you have attended).
- Prerequisite courses (e.g., calculus, organic chemistry, general biochemistry, depending on the university).
- Letters of recommendation.
- Statement of purpose.
- English language proficiency (IELTS/TOEFL)
- GRE score (depending on the university).
The application process to study biology at a United States university should begin months before the start of the first semester. Ideally, you should start preparing your application at the beginning of your senior year. It is advisable to begin early because you allow yourself enough time to enter/re-enter necessary standardized tests or meet any university-specific requirement.
There are a few application deadlines you should keep in mind:
- Early decision deadlines: You usually apply in November and hear back in December. ED acceptances are binding, and the student must enroll if offered admission.
- Early action deadlines: You usually apply in November/December. However, these acceptances are not binding.
- Regular decision deadline: You apply by the end of November (but usually January 1). Students hear back somewhere between mid-March to early April.
- Rolling admissions: Schools evaluate applications as they receive them and release decisions regularly.
Degree Duration: How Long Does It Take to Study Biology in United States?
An undergraduate degree in biology at United States universities takes around four years of full-time study to complete. During their undergraduate education, biology majors learn anything from biology, calculus, physics to biochemistry, chemistry, microbiology, etc. Students are also exposed to the practical application of knowledge both through laboratory and fieldwork, which can be challenging but rewarding at the same time.
A master’s degree in biology takes roughly two years to complete. A master’s degree program in biology will advance your career and employment opportunities. Some master’s programs focus on areas of biological sciences such as marine biology, plant biology, or cell biology, while others focus mainly on broader biological sciences. A master’s degree opens the door to doctoral studies, typically taking 4-6 years to complete.
Tuition Fees: How Much Does It Cost to Study Biology in United States?
The average cost of tuition for universities offering biology degree programs is approximately $25,072 for undergraduate programs and $19,908 for graduate programs. Tuition fees are lower at public universities and higher at private universities, especially at prestigious and highly competitive schools. Moreover, tuition fees will differentiate between in-state and out-of-state students, being much higher for the latter. Students should take into consideration their personal expenses as well, including housing and utilities, food, books and other supplies, etc.
Biology Career Prospects in United States
Biology majors can find employment in various job roles, i.e., biomedical engineers, microbiologists, botanists, genetic counselors, biological technicians and scientists, physicians’ assistants, nurse practitioners, etc. These roles are rather lucrative and plentiful in the United States, which means career prospects with a degree in biology are good not only in the States but globally. Some biology majors prefer to undertake roles in education or research.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual salary for biological scientists is $83,600. On the other hand, a biology technician with a bachelor’s degree earns a median salary of $46,340 per year, especially considering that salaries increase with professional experience. Environmental scientists and specialists earn a median salary of $73,230 per year, while zoologists and wildlife biologists earn an annual median salary of $66,350.
Many students choose to undertake a bachelor’s degree in biology because it enables them to learn medical principles, which are further elaborated in medical school. So, you may even opt for further education in medicine and healthcare after completing your bachelor’s degree in biology.