Graduate Programs & Degrees for Biology Majors

Biology is the study of living things and their life processes. Graduate students can choose from a wide range of degree options to further their education, expand their career prospects, and build valuable foundational skills. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Comparing Biology Master's Degrees & Programs

Master of Science in Biology

This degree focuses on experiential research and requires a thesis and is mainly recommended to prospective biology doctorate students. Students must usually complete the degree in three years, and curricula include lectures and seminars on topics in biology, laboratory courses, and advanced research projects. M.S. in Biology students demonstrate the capacity to conduct independent research and may become instructors or research specialists at universities.

Master of Arts in Biology

In this program, no thesis is required, as the emphasis is on practical biology skills rather than research. Students may broaden their understanding of applied biology by exposure to courses in the subject's many disciplines, such as botany and molecular biology. Students typically have 2-3 years to complete this program and may take internships. With a well-rounded biology education, they graduate with lucrative skills that can be applied to a range of occupations, including financial analyst and attorney.

Master's Degrees in Biology Subfields

Biology graduate students may pursue degrees in related subfields, such as biophysics or biochemistry. In addition to advanced science courses, students may take classes specific to their interests, such as marine biology or mycology (the study of fungi). With the freedom to choose concentrations, students are prepared for research and careers in specialized fields, such as ornithology and herpetology. They may work in educational or corporate settings.

Master's Degrees in Related Specializations

Biology graduate students may also study related fields such as ecology, neuroscience, or food chemistry. Courses depend on the student's chosen specialization; in addition to foundational biology courses, an ecology major might also study environmental sciences, for instance. A neuroscience major would take courses on the biological processes of the brain, and a food chemist would study food safety, nutrition, and advanced chemistry courses. Choosing a specialization allows students to guide their studies toward careers such as neuroscientist and food scientist.

Degree Program Program Length Program Requirements Related Careers
M.S. in Biology 2-3 years Undergraduate degree in biology/related field, thesis Biology Instructor Veterinarian
M.A. in Biology 2-3 years Undergraduate degree in biology/related field Health Educator Attorney
Master's in Biochemistry 1-2 years Undergraduate degree in biology/related field, a thesis may be required Biochemist Genetic Counselor
Master's in Food Science 2-4 years Undergraduate degree in biology/related, students may need to choose concentration Food Scientist Food Inspector

Careers for Biology Graduates


Biochemists use their science and research skills to help design new products for pharmaceutical, medical, and industrial applications. They study how chemicals, diseases, and other factors affect the human body and work in lab settings. This occupation usually requires an advanced (master's or doctoral) degree.

Health Educator

Health educators promote public wellness. They must understand subjects like human anatomy, physiology, nutrition, sexual health, and addictions studies. Prospective jobs may require a Certified Health Education Specialist certificate.

Physician's Assistant

In the healthcare field, physicians' assistants are in high demand. They provide immediate care to patients in hospitals and other medical settings. This job requires a minimum of a master's degree and a comprehensive knowledge of human biology and medical terminology.

Biology Instructor - Postsecondary

With an advanced degree, biology students are qualified to teach biology and related subjects at colleges and universities. They may seek jobs as adjuncts, associate professors, tenure-track positions, or research roles. A background in scholarly research makes biology majors well-suited to share knowledge and foster academic success.


Vets provide medical care to animals, including emergency clinical procedures as well as routine maintenance of health and wellness. They may work with pets, horses, livestock, zoo animals, or wildlife. This role requires an advanced degree with a foundation in life science, animal anatomy and physiology, and chemistry.

Genetic Counselor

Geneticists study genes, DNA, and heredity. They need in-depth knowledge of microbiology, research processes, and data interpretation. Their work can help determine whether people's genetics put them at risk for developing or transmitting hereditary disorders or disabilities.


It may come as a surprise, but many biology majors choose to go to law school. Biology scholars are strong in many subjects and qualities demanded by the legal field. Their background science and reasoning make them well-suited for work as patent, environmental, intellectual property, and medical malpractice lawyers.

Financial Analyst

The financial analyst manages data about clients' investments and other monetary holdings. Financial analysts tend to specialize in a certain industry, and biology majors may be drawn to the environmental, pharmaceutical, healthcare sectors. Their skills with research, analysis, and mathematics make them well-suited for this role.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2016-26)*
Biochemist $93,280 11%
Health Educator $46,080 16%
Physician's Assistant $108,610 37%
Biology Instructor - Postsecondary $78,470 15%
Veterinarian $93,830 19%
Genetic Counselor $80,370 29%
Attorney $120,910 8%
Financial Analyst $85,660 11%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Biology majors have a comprehensive education in mathematics and the sciences and build lucrative skills in research methodology and data analysis. This avails many scholarly and professional opportunities to the graduate biology student, who may choose to further their studies, specialize in a subfield, or branch into a related subject to increase their knowledge and eligibility for gainful employment.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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