In this ranking, we examine the top 10 value colleges for online biology degree programs, including the online biology bachelor degree and the online biology master’s degree.
Biology is more hands-on and experiential than most college majors. Look through the curriculum at any university and you’re bound to see plenty of labs and required experimental projects within the coursework. How, then, can universities offer online biology degree programs? There aren’t many options available at the bachelor’s level, but the undergraduate programs that do exist tend to be either degree completion programs or to offer an atypical curriculum. For example, the University of Maryland has an online degree in biotechnology that is suitable for virtual delivery because of its focus on computer science and IT. Also, the University of Florida’s online biology bachelor degree takes an interdisciplinary approach to the subject that attracts students who are interested in multifaceted careers such as science journalism or environmental law.
Most of the best online biology degree programs, however, are master’s programs. If you’re interested in acquiring an advanced understanding of the life and health sciences but don’t want to pursue a professional program such as medicine or pharmacy, an M.S. or M.A. in Biology could be the perfect middle ground for you. Since the majority of lab work and hands-on requirements are taken care of at the undergraduate level, master’s programs can focus on delivering conceptual information in topics like biostatistics and bioinformatics. This makes graduate work an ideal phase for convenient and affordable online biology degree programs.
10. Salem International University
Online Bachelor of Science in Biology- Physiology and Exercise Science Concentration
Biology is the study of life, and what is more important for human life than physical fitness? Salem International’s unique online biology bachelor degree combines traditional life science studies – such as microbiology and nutrition – with coursework in biomechanics, pathophysiology, and kinesiology. An ideal choice for aspiring athletic assistants, physical trainers, and coaches, this B.S. in Biology is both practical and relevant. By taking the concentration courses for the major online, you can accelerate your pace and acquire valuable skills that will give you a distinct advantage in either the job market or graduate school – or both!
Net Price: $18,486/yr
9. George Washington University
Online Master of Science in Health Sciences: Clinical & Translational Microbiology; Biotechnology
George Washington University has a reputation for its high caliber programs – particularly its strength in politics and law – and this is no surprise, given its location in the political capital of the United States. However, students living both near and far from Washington, D.C. can enroll in GWU’s equally strong online biology masters degree programs, which offer diplomas in many more fields than political science. In fact, the school offers an impressively comprehensive selection of graduate-level majors in the health sciences, including concentrations in Clinical Microbiology, Translational Microbiology, and Biotechnology. The flexibility of these accredited online biology degrees gives you the freedom to choose what to study based on your career interests, such as immunology, genomics, biostatistics, immunohematology, and biochemistry.
Net Price: $15,095/yr
8. Illinois Institute of Technology
Online Master of Science in Biology with Specialization in Applied Life Sciences
The M.S. in Biology (specialization in Applied Life Sciences) at the Illinois Institute of Technology is one of the more practical and affordable online biology masters degree programs available, offering advanced scientific and technical courses for current working professionals. Pharmacists, medical technicians, and biotechnologists can take advantage of IIT’s online curriculum to learn about virology, biochemistry, macromolecular structure, and bioinformatics, all while continuing to work full-time. What’s more, classes like Good Manufacturing Practices, Public Engagement for Scientists, and Science and the Law will provide valuable skills that you can utilize in your current profession – and might even earn you a promotion!
Net Price: $22,449/yr
7. Lehigh University
Online Molecular Biology (Masters)
The Molecular Biology program at Lehigh University is not for the faint of heart – nor the light of mind. You’ll need an undergraduate degree in the life sciences or chemistry plus a cumulative 3.0 GPA just to be considered for their accredited biology degree online. You’ll also need to have taken prerequisites in genetics, physics, math, and organic and inorganic chemistry, to name a few. Once admitted, you’ll dive right into 400-level classes in some of the most advanced biological subjects, including Molecular Genetics and Advanced Cell Biology. But that’s not all; a research course and required electives round out your studies, preparing you to tackle challenging careers in public health or scientific laboratories.
Net Price: $27,848/yr
6. Western Kentucky University
Online M.S. in Biology
If you’re a student with the ambition to tackle a graduate program but are apprehensive about the research typically required at this level, Western Kentucky University’s M.S. in Biology might be the “happy medium” you seek. In contrast to its on-campus, thesis-based biology degree, WKU’s affordable biology degree online (note the super low net price!) offers a “non-thesis” track. You will still complete 30-credit hours of coursework and conduct your own research, but without the pressure or time restrictions of a formal, written thesis requirement. Instead, you’ll complete a sequence of oral exams to prove your competency – exams which you can easily take through distance media as a part of your online experience.
Net Price: $11,072/yr
5. University of Nebraska at Kearney
Online Master of Science in Biology
The University of Nebraska’s graduate biology degree is “growing and diversified,” featuring a “multidimensional” curriculum that appeals to both current industry professionals and future industry hopefuls. Classes cover everything from ecology to zoology, biochemistry to botany, making this program one of the best online biology degrees for a truly comprehensive life sciences education. UNK’s distance education resources are also some of the best; online students even have access to travel grants and research stipends that they can use to facilitate experiments and/or visit campus. In-state residents will also enjoy one extra perk, namely the rich ecological resources that flourish in Nebraska’s rural but dense natural environment.
Net Price: $14,553/yr
4. Clemson University
Online Non-Thesis Master of Biological Sciences
Clemson University’s online biology degree is not for everyone, but it is perfect for science educators and general teachers with an interest in biology and the life sciences. Interestingly, Clemson will even let you enroll in online master’s classes without the intent to earn a degree, as long as you would “benefit professionally” from the course content. Non-degree students also have the option to transfer to the degree-seeking track, which mandates the completion of an original scientific research proposal and project (although this requirement is not as time-intensive as that of the traditional, thesis program).
Net Price: $16,799/yr
3. Texas A & M University-Commerce
Online M.S. in Biological Sciences
For a master’s degree in biology online that truly covers the spectrum of life science topics, consider Texas A&M’s all-inclusive program. You can take classes in microbiology or virology, genetics or genomics, ecophysiology or microbial ecology, plus a variety of other subjects. Many incoming students declare a particular specialty – such as Oncology or Wildlife Biology – and all students are tasked with writing a major research paper before graduating. However, TAMU’s accredited online biology degree is not intended as a gateway to PhD programs; instead, the department seeks current biology teachers and professional educators looking to enhance their knowledge.
Net Price: $8,625/yr
2. University of Maryland University College
Online Biotechnology Bachelor’s Degree
One of the few online bachelor’s degrees in biology, UMUC’s biotechnology program is a rare find in distance education. And like most rare items, this B.S. in Biotechnology is also highly valuable and incredibly useful in the right hands. The University of Maryland offers this online degree through its “University College,” an extension program primarily intended for nontraditional learners and busy professionals. As a result, the school’s online biology degree curriculum takes on a characteristically practical feel; between technology-focused classes like Bioinformatics and career-prep courses like Laboratory Management and Safety, graduates of the program are more than prepared for modern careers in biomedicine, pharmacology, and healthcare technology.
Net Price: $14,833/yr
1. University of Florida
Online Bachelor of Arts in Biology
Why does the University of Florida earn the number one spot in this online biology degree programs ranking? Aside from its admirable graduation rate and notably affordable tuition, UF stands apart for the flexibility and usefulness of its distance ed. programs. The university’s online B.A. in Biology offers a solidly grounded curriculum despite taking place in the “cloud” of distance learning; although the degree isn’t sufficient preparation for medical or dental school, it provides the ideal academic balance for students seeking careers in science journalism, environmental law, biotechnology, or science management.
Net Price: $14,786/yr
This concludes our ranking of the top value colleges for online biology degree programs.
See our methodology page for more information about how we calculated this ranking.
By CVO Staff
Published April 2016