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Q&A - Biology Programs


What other areas of study are related to my biology program?

Biology is a very broad field concerning the study of living organisms. As a result, no biology program is able to cover all of the specifics, but you can study subsets of the field such as biochemistry, microbiology and epidemiology in greater detail.

As the name implies, biochemistry combines aspects of both biology and chemistry in order to study the chemical process that occur within living organisms. Much of this field involves learning about cellular components, their molecular structure, chemical properties and the effects of their interactions, and you can expect to take biochemistry courses if you decide to get a bioengineering degree.

Microbiology focuses on living organisms as well, but only on those that are a single cell, a small cluster of cells or no cells at all. In particular, the effect of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms on the immune system are examined in this branch of biology.

The illnesses caused by microorganisms is studied in epidemiology. More specifically, this field concerns health conditions and disease processes within well-defined populations, including the cause, influences, distribution and patterns of health events. Epidemiology relies on many other sciences, including biology, to better understand public health.

What internships should I pursue during my on-campus or online biology degree program?

Employers are interested in hiring individuals with prior work experience and often a degree from even the best biology programs cannot replace the experience you get from an internship. The internships you should apply for depend on what career path you want to follow once you graduate, but for the most part they should be available to both traditional and on-campus students.

For example, many students earn a bachelor degree in biology in order to prepare them for medical school. If this is the case, then you should get an internship with or volunteer at a hospital. Many hospitals and health clinics throughout the country offer students volunteer positions in order to gain practical health care experience, so check your community for opportunities.

If you want to work with animals, many zoos and aquariums have volunteer programs that give you hands-on experience in the field. For example, the Georgia Aquarium offers volunteer positions in many different areas of operation, including water quality, animal training and husbandry.

If you are interested in doing research, search the websites of organizations in the field that you are interested in for internships. Government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer students employment and volunteer opportunities to help them explore career paths while gaining experience.

Are there any movies or TV shows that I might enjoy during my biology degree program?

If you are interested in medicine and human health, you should check out some of the many medical dramas, such as House or Grey’s Anatomy. These shows are not known for their accurate depictions of life in healthcare, but as you learn more during your studies you will gain a greater appreciation for the jargon that the characters use and even be able to point out inaccuracies. Oddly enough, many doctors say that the show which most accurately depicts the medical profession is the comedy Scrubs.

Gattaca is a great movie for students studying genetics. This film depicts a future in which genetic technology has developed to the point where parents can customize the looks and characteristics of their children, leading to a genetically superior class of humans. Bioethics, the study of what may be considered morally right or wrong with regard to advances in biology, is becoming an important area of focus in many biology online programs and is a major theme throughout the film.

Those studying epidemiology will be interested in the film Contagion. This movie documents the fictional spread of a virus and the social chaos that ensues. Many compare Contagion to the older Andromeda Strain, another film that follows a pandemic.

Are there any accelerated campus-based or online programs to help me finish my degree faster?

The most common accelerated biology programs offer you the opportunity to obtain a bachelors and a masters degree in 5 years as opposed to the 6 years it takes to earn both degrees separately. Generally, these top biology programs let you take graduate level classes while you are an undergraduate as your elective courses, saving you a year of time.

For example, the program at University of South Florida allows you take up to 12 credits of graduate level courses as a part of the Bachelor of Science in Biology requirements. Other schools like Clark University require you to take additional graduate level courses on top of your undergraduate requirements in order to accelerate your degree.

Some schools link their biology programs to other health programs. For instance, at Pennsylvania State University you can complete a biology degree in 3 years and go straight into school for medicine, dentistry or pharmacology.

Because of the amount of lab work required for biology programs, accelerated accredited online biology programs are rare. Some schools do offer courses in a distance learning format, but it would be hard to find an accelerated program that is completely online.