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Life Science Degree Programs

Life science programs allow you to complete science and health-related coursework to pursue a professional degree or enter a career in bioscience. Learn about the types of programs available, program curricula, online options, and possible career opportunities.

What Type of Programs Award a Life Science Degree?

There are a variety of degrees in biology and its subfields that are known as life science degrees, but you can also earn a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Life Science. Some schools award joint degrees that prepare you to work in a healthcare profession, such as B.S. in Biology/Doctor of Chiropractic, Bachelor of Life Science/Doctor of Physical Therapy or B.S. in Life Science/Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. Other programs award a Master of Science (M.S.) in Life Science through traditional on-campus programs or distance learning.

To be admitted into joint degree programs, you are sometimes required to have documented volunteer or work experience in the field you wish to enter. For the M.S. program, it is recommended that you have completed upper-level undergraduate coursework in biology and chemistry. Otherwise, you may be able complete these prerequisites before starting your core curriculum.

Degree Options B.S. in Life Science, B.S. in Life Science with pre-health concentrations, M.S. in Life Science
Common Courses Biology, chemistry, human physiology, anatomy, nutrition
Online Components Online materials, assignments, and exams; in-person lab time
Career Options Biomedical research, natural resources, health field
Median Salary (2018)* $84,270 (for occupational therapists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)*24% (for occupational therapists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Can I Learn?

Undergraduate programs provide you with a basic foundation in human physiology, anatomy, psychology, pathology, nutrition, public health issues, environmental health and biology. Your curriculum may combine lectures with laboratory work.

Master's programs allow you to select concentrations, such as biology, chemistry or public health. These concentrations will largely determine your coursework, but your topics of study may include cellular biology, life science information systems, molecular genetics, evolution, ecology and chemical biology. You may be required to complete a thesis.

How Do Online Programs Work?

Online master's programs allow you to log in at your convenience to view course materials and post to discussion boards, but you will need to meet assignment and exam deadlines. While most classes are offered online, you may be required to complete laboratory sessions in person. Some online programs require you to complete a project with an accompanying research paper instead of a thesis.

Why Should I Earn This Degree?

Many students pursue bachelor's degrees in life science to meet pre-medical, pre-veterinary or pre-dentistry requirements. However, you can also apply your bachelor's degree in an entry-level research position. According to Washington University in St. Louis, your salary as a research technician is based on your experience and the size and type of the research lab you work in. You could have opportunities in biomedical research and consulting in addition to working for government agencies that deal with wildlife and natural resources.

Some students who complete master's degrees in life science go on to veterinary, medical or dental school. However, you can also acquire research skills and hands-on laboratory experience to pursue careers in natural resource management, food safety and environmental science, among others.