Biology covers a wide variety of topics. At its very core, biology is the study of living organisms. As such, biology is also called the science of life. Biology reveals much about humans, animals, plants and the world that contains them. It recognises the cell as the basic unit of life and examines how genetics and evolution propel species forward.
Highlighted courses and degrees in biology
A significant amount of the curriculum in degree programs for biology include the different sciences of genetics, physiology, cell biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, and mathematics. Students will be spending their time in both lectures and laboratory classes, and assessment can be through written evaluations, such as exams, quizzes and theses, and practical evaluations such as experiments and lab work.
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates. Please check with the institution you are interested in for their accreditation details.
As for certifications, there is no universally recognised certification for graduates with a degree in biology, since they also end up in many different career paths and fields. However, those who want to pursue specialist roles might be required to have a certification in the specific field of study, research or work they want to be in. Much of the qualifications of a biologist are also based on research and studies.
As mentioned earlier in the article, specialisations within biology are available in most institutions. This may be a required part of the degree program for biology or it may be optional, depending on the institution. Below is a short list of common specialisations offered by universities:
An undergraduate degree in biology can typically take around four years of full-time study. The exact period of time would depend on the university of your choice, the country wherein it is located and the availability of work placements within the duration of the course.
There are also a great number of programs for those who want to pursue a master's degree or a doctorate in biology, which according to research is a significant number for biology undergraduates. These postgraduate degrees are usually heavy on research and written work in the form of a theses, involving the student's chosen specialisation, such as marine biology.
A degree in biology is also considered a good background for individuals who are interested in pursuing further studies in medicine because of the vast knowledge it provides on human biology. Completing a program in medicine normally requires at least four years of postgraduate study.
Entrance into a biology degree program varies from institution to institution. Some universities require you to take an entrance exam, while some will take into consideration national or standard exams.
Since biology is very heavy on science courses, applicants may be considered based on performance in previous science classes undertaken by the applicant. A number of universities also take into consideration advanced placement exams, while some consider transfer credits for post-secondary students or applicants. For a complete list of requirements, you are advised to check out or contact the institution you are interested in applying to.
If you do not meet the entry requirements you may want to consider a pathway course.
The options for graduates of biology degree programs are sizeable and varied. As biology degree programs develop technical skills in laboratory procedures and specialist knowledge, those who receive a degree in biology and especially those who pursue further studies and specialisations can opt for specialist roles such as bacteriologist, microbiologist, biological scientist, research scientist or science writer. Some other roles include lab technician or assistant and clinical trial administrator.
Outside of the lab and research work, some graduates choose to become secondary school teachers, consultants or businessmen. There is a range of career options available to graduates of biology programs because of the many different transferable skills they gain throughout the program. These include critical reasoning, analytical skills, written and oral communication skills, monitoring and recording, time management and data handling and analysis.
Find biology programs available in the following countries.
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