In actuality, those who work in the field of Biology do several jobs. They may be your teachers in high school, the people who are selling you your medicine, or the company that is working to make your food safe. Biology is the study of living organisms, whether it be small molecules in plants that we cannot see, or cells in the human body. A Master’s in Biology is an advanced degree for those wishing to expand their knowledge of the field.
College Choice has compiled a list of the 7 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Biology Degrees. These schools were chosen based on their competitive tuition rates and a great return on investment. Although these programs can be completed entirely from the comfort of one’s own home, no diploma will state that the degree was taken online. Thus, students should not worry about compromising their education by enrolling in a distance learning program.
What kind of Master’s in Biology should you get?
An online Master of Science in Biology is an ideal degree for working adults. Online degrees are more flexible, with courses meeting only a few times a week in the evening. All coursework can be completed on one’s own time, 24 hours a day before the decided deadline. In addition, online degrees are more affordable. Luckily, all of these degrees listed here have the best bang for your buck in the nation for Biology.
Other than an MS in Biology, some schools may offer a degree in Biological Sciences or something similar. There are usually no official concentrations offered within this degree. Coursework will cover the basics of the field and prepare students for entry to mid-level positions, as well as for careers in teaching. Each MS will outline whether the program is ideal for future educators and/or researchers. Unfortunately, the majority of these programs are not ideal for those wishing to work solely as a researcher. Going directly into the Ph.D. program after one’s undergraduate studies is best for future scholars.
Not quite ready for a Master’s degree? Check out our ranking of the Best Undergraduate Online Biology Degrees.
How much will you earn with a Master’s in Biology?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median annual salary of all biological scientists in May 2017 was $76,690. The top-paying industries are equipment and merchant wholesalers, computer systems design and other related services, and pharmaceutical manufacturers. The five highest-paying states are Maryland, California, Massachusetts, Texas, and Florida. Given one’s experience and location, scientists can make around six figures at the peak of their careers.
Based on the BLS data, below are some of the best-paying jobs within Biology that require a Master’s degree or lower.
- Environmental scientist
- Agricultural and food scientist
- Pharmaceutical sales representative
What can you do with an online Master’s in Biology?
Most jobs within the field of Biology require a Master’s degree or higher. An MS will prepare individuals for more specific careers other than just a basic lab technician. For instance, with some additional training, one may be able to work in DNA forensics, collecting data for legal cases. Another job may include being a research associate at a respected lab. Before applying to schools, students should research future potential careers to see if the MS degree meets the job’s requirements.
For the programs on this ranking, the most common career path upon graduation is to become a biology teacher. Many students enrolled in the program already have a teaching credential, but may wish to gain more expertise in the study. The MS is not an ideal program for those just starting in education and who need state licensure; however, it may be a good program in conjunction with another education one. Graduates generally teach at the middle school or high school level.
What are the requirements for an online Master’s in Biology?
An MS in Biology will take between two to three years to complete. Applicants should possess a Bachelor’s in Biology or a related science degree. Those who do not have an undergraduate Biology degree should make sure they have taken the prerequisite biology courses. Schools would like to see applicants with a GPA of at least 2.75 or above.
The online MS does not usually require any major field experience or internships. Students are free to complete everything from the comfort of their own homes. Depending on if one is pursuing the degree part or full-time, only about two or three courses will be completed per term. Classes are taken year-round in the fall, spring, and summer. At the end of the degree, students will be required to complete a thesis or research project.
Texas A & M University - Commerce
Average Net Price: $11,396
Looking for a school that will give you a great return on investment? In 2018, Money ranked Texas A&M University the No. 1 public university within the state for Best College Value. Not only does it offer competitive tuition rates, but it also educates the student community on money and investing in education. In the 2018-2019 school year, the average family with a total income of $40,000 or less paid an out-of-pocket cost of about $8,485. Annually, Texas A&M is proud to give away more than $836 million in financial aid.
Both current and future biology teachers who wish to teach at the college level or below should consider enrolling in this online MS in Biological Sciences. A total of 36 credit hours will be completed. Here is a sample of some available courses:
- Microbial Physiology
Courses are offered in the fall, spring, and summer. A research paper will be completed at the end of the program; however, this degree and its research component are not meant for future Ph.D. students.
Western Kentucky University
Average Net Price: $11,817
Western Kentucky University’s online Master’s in Biology degree is offered through the Ogden College of Science & Engineering. The college was founded in 1877 under the will of Major Robert W. Ogden. It hopes to empower students through learning opportunities and research, and also serve the community by producing strong graduates who are ready to meaningfully contribute to the workforce. The college also seeks to encourage students who are not typically represented in STEM learning. As of now, about 35% of Ogden’s student body identifies as female.
Receive your MS degree in Biology without worrying about completing a thesis through this online program. Graduates will not only be prepared to enter into careers of teaching but also in fields such as public service. Below are some degree highlights:
- Year-round courses
- Minimum of 30 credit hours
- Ability to transfer up to 12 credit hours
More than 90% of WKU students receive some form of financial assistance. All interested students should start by filling out their FAFSA form to see how much governmental aid they can receive. Veterans and those who have active military status may also receive additional benefits.
University of West Alabama
Average Net Price: $13,326
The University of West Alabama makes education possible by providing affordable options to its students. About 80% of all enrollees receive some form of financial assistance throughout their time at UWA. There are also several scholarships available for excellent students such as merit-based scholarships, community college awards for transfer students, and scholarships for specific majors. Other than its affordability, UWA offers high-quality programs in a small, personalized environment. In 2018, WalletHub ranked it among the Top 50 Public Schools in the South based on factors such as cost, student selectivity, and career outcomes.
Now more than ever, it is important to understand how we as humans impact the environment. UWA’s online MS in Conservation Biology gives students the necessary research and practice skills to seek careers that work to preserve our biodiversity. Key features of this degree include:
- Completion time: one to two years
- Eight-week courses
- Ability to transfer up to nine credit hours
Current graduates are employed at a variety of related corporations and government agencies. Some current places include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and The Nature Conservancy.
Alcorn State University
Average Net Price: $13,665
Located in Mississippi, Alcorn State University has its roots serving the historically marginalized black population in the South. It is the oldest public HBCU that is a land grant institution. Alcorn began as an agricultural and mechanical college for men only, with women enrolling for the first time in the early 1900s.Today, Alcorn is a passionate community that encourages its students to embrace diversity and build each other up. About 4,000 students are currently enrolled at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The U.S. News & World Report ranks Alcorn the No. 35 Best Public School in the South.
The online MS in Biology at ASU is designed for advanced level scientists who wish to deepen their knowledge of the field and develop strong research skills. This is a 33 credit hour program that can be completed via the online Blackboard system. Other main characteristics of the MS degree are:
- 21 credit hours of electives
- Advising via phone and online
- Completion of a project paper if non-thesis path is chosen
Courses will be held in the fall and spring semesters for 16 weeks. There are also two four-week sessions in the summer. If completing this program part-time, it is estimated to take about two years.
University of Nebraska at Kearney
Average Net Price: $15,909
Kearney is a beautiful, progressive city with a population of about 30,000 people. Due to its location in the center of the country, students can travel easily to other major cities via plane or a road trip. During the early 1900s, the city of Kearney did not yet have an institute of higher education. The University of Nebraska at Kearney began as a normal school for future teachers to enroll in after finishing the 8th grade. It wasn’t until 1921 that the school began to offer four-year degrees. Today, UNK has a total enrollment of over 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Biology is one of its disciplines that has a job placement rate of almost 100%.
Receive full support academically and professionally when enrolling in the MS in Biology program. About 20 faculty with various scientific expertise serve these graduate students. This is a non-thesis program made up of 36 credit hours.
- 16-week fall and spring sessions, and 12-week summer sessions
- Completion time: two to three years
- Up to $750 given as a grant by the UNK Research Services Council to qualifying students
This program is offered via the online Canvas platform. Coursework and the online library can be accessed 24 hours a day, along with 24-hour live tech support.
Average Net Price: $18,757
Clemson University was founded by Thomas and Anna Clemson. After the Civil War, Mr. Clemson noted the war-ravaged economy of the South. After he died in 1888, it was in his will to set up an institute of higher education to teach agriculture and mechanical arts to the South Carolina population. Clemson Agricultural College opened in 1889. Today, Clemson is considered a top-ranked university with some of the highest graduation rates in the country. For 2019, the U.S. News & World Report ranks it the No. 24 Best Public School in the nation.
Clemson offers an online MS in Biological Sciences as a non-thesis program. This degree is meant for current educators in the field. There is also a program for those who may not necessarily want an additional degree, but who wish to advance their knowledge in the sciences.
- 30 credit hours
- Ability to transfer up to 12 credit hours
- Research project in lieu of thesis
This program is ideal for those who already have their license to teach and who are looking to expand their competence in Biology. There is currently no exact pathway from this program to obtain state licensure. Those who do not have their teaching license should look to other programs whose curriculum specifically meet those requirements.
University of Saint Joseph
Average Net Price: $25,226
The University of Saint Joseph’s beautiful academic shield is an emblem of the university’s founders and its faith background. USJ was founded by the Sisters of Mercy of Connecticut to establish the first liberal arts institution of higher education for women in Hartford. Today its programs are fully co-educational and welcome students of all religious backgrounds. USJ offers degrees from the undergraduate to the doctoral level, both on-campus and online. It has won numerous accolades, with the most recent one being ranked the No. 23 Best Value School in the nation by the U.S. News & World Report in 2019.
USJ’s online MS in Biology prepares graduates for a variety of jobs within the field. This flexible degree can be completed in as little as two years if taken full-time. Special features of the MS include:
- Class size of 20 students or less
- Three additional certifications available
- Optional thesis
The three certifications available are Emerging Infectious Diseases, Environmental Science, and Integrative Genomics. These are great items to add to one’s resume. Students take specific electives to meet the requirements for those certifications.