How hard is it to gain admission to brick-and-mortar or online graduate programs in biology?
Biology graduate schools vary so much that it is difficult to say just exactly how hard it is to gain admission into a program. Selectiveness differs by school and even by program within the same school. Generally, the best biology graduate programs attract the most students, making the admission processes very competitive.
For example, U.S. News & World Report ranks Stanford University as the number 1 biology graduate school. Stanford only accepted 10% of students for its biosciences PhD program, and undergraduate admissions were even tighter, accepting only 7% of students.
Additionally, private schools are more competitive than public schools. Private schools, conjuring up images of prestigious Ivy League educations, attract more applicants. For instance, if you are in Georgia, you may have an easier time getting admitted into the public University of Georgia than the private Emory University.
You can make yourself more competitive by improving all aspects of your application. Top biology graduate programs are looking for students with high GRE scores, high GPAs, recommendations from notable individuals and resumes covering a wide range of activities. Most importantly, apply to a broad spectrum of schools. Reach for prestigious institutions but also for schools that you are likely to get into so you are not left with nowhere to go at the beginning of the semester.
What are the average salaries for biology degree graduates?
Biology is an incredible broad field, allowing you to pursue careers in many different areas once you finish your biology graduate program. However, not all positions pay equally.
For example, students from the best biology graduate schools can become biochemists and biophysicists, occupations that are at the forefront of creating new medical technologies. As a result, they earn an average salary of $80,000. Wildlife biologists, however, are not in as high of a demand and earn $58,000 per year on average. While this still may seem high, keep in mind that employment in that field is expected to grow more slowly than most other occupations.
If you do not have an advanced degree, such as an online masters in biology, you may qualify for entry-level positions such as a biological technician. For this job, you would assist in conducting laboratory experiments and can expect to earn a salary of around $39,000.
Online degree holders, such as those with an online PhD in biology, are not as competitive as their traditional counterparts. However, when they are hired they are usually paid equally, as employers are beginning to recognize that students from accredited online biology graduate programs are just as qualified.
If I am interested in pursuing a graduate degree in biology, what related graduate programs should I consider?
Graduate programs in biology can cover many subjects, so you might be interested in narrowing down your studies to 1 of many specific aspects of the field:
Human physiology is a subset of biology that focuses on the study of the chemical and physical functions that occur within the human body, organs systems and cells. After completing this course of study, you will be prepared to do research in human anatomy, medical development and health care.
If you are interested in healthcare but do not want to go into medicine, you should consider a public health graduate program. This field concerns preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health among human populations. Biology is used to understand the health events that affect large groups, but this field focuses more on how to use public policy to influence the quality of health and prevent illness. For example, you might be involved with health education and promoting activities like hand washing, breast feeding, delivering vaccinations and distributing condoms. Other public health professionals work in government agencies.
For a broader view of life on earth, you may want to go into ecology. In ecology graduate programs, you will study the relationships between living organisms within a natural environment. When you graduate, you can pursue careers in environmental conservation, natural resource management and even city planning.
Are there any iPhone or iPad apps that would benefit me while I am completing my on-campus or online biology graduate degree?
There are a lot of iPhone and iPad apps meant for students in biology graduate programs. These are some of the most popular:
Solutions is a handy calculator for the many stock solutions and buffers that students prepare in biology grad schools. It contains lists of chemicals and molecular weights and has access to an online database. It is also available on the iPad.
Molecules is a free app used for quickly viewing 3D protein structures on either your iPhone or iPad. The models are kept in an online database from the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics. You just have to select the molecule and the app quickly renders the model.
3D Brain is another visualization tool for both your iPhone and your iPad. This app contains 29 interactive structures in the brain that you can view from multiple angles, helping you learn how each region works, what happens when it is injured and how it is affected by mental illnesses.