If you’re interested in the sciences of living things, pursuing your PhD in Biology might be a strategic next step on your educational path.
The biological sciences help us learn more about how our world operates, and this fascinating field has many specialties to choose from. Whether you want to focus on the human body or explore the living world around us, there are many options for you to consider.
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Let’s take a look at how earning a doctorate degree in biology might further your educational and professional goals.
PhD in Biology Online Programs
Biology is the study of living things, and there are many specific areas in biology in which doctoral students can concentrate.
Some of these biological concentrations include:
- Cellular and molecular biology
- Ecology and environmental biology
- Evolutionary biology and genomics
- Forensic biology
Biological studies can range from the microscopic world of the cell to understanding how our existence can impact our future.
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Those who have earned their Ph.D. in Biology are able to examine our world on a very different level to understand the “how” and “why” of life as we know it. Those who earn their doctorate degree in biology may continue their careers in research, analytics, or field work. Many PhD graduates even go on to become educators for the next generation of biology students.
The field of biology is expansive, so you’ll often take a certain number of core classes, electives, and courses that are specific to your concentration. Many schools offer several areas of focus to help you further define your path.
Pursuing a doctorate degree in biology can provide you with an opportunity to hone your research and analytical skills while selecting a focus for your studies and potential career path.
Biology Careers and Salaries
The variety of degree programs in biology can help open the doors to a range of professions in related fields. Your career path will likely depend on your area of concentration, field work, and skill sets, among other factors.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are some professions related to the field of biology, along with their median salaries.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Natural Sciences Managers||$137,900|
|Biochemists and Biophysicists||$102,270|
|Postsecondary Biological Science Teachers||$81,440|
|Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists||$64,650|
|Forensic Science Technicians||$61,930|
|Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians||$57,800|
Many biology doctoral students focus on scientific research in a variety of specialties. For instance, some may aim to develop cutting-edge medical intervention, while others want to connect with wildlife and our environment on a cellular level.
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Students who pursue a PhD in Biology are often encouraged to gain experience in the field as part of their curriculum. This could help you narrow down the field and concentration of your studies and potential career path.
Biology Doctorate Curriculum & Courses
Since there are so many areas of study within a doctorate degree in biology, you’ll often take courses that apply to your specific concentration.
While coursework can vary between PhD programs in biology, here are a few courses you may encounter:
- Evolutionary Ecology: This course allows you to learn more about theories and evidence surrounding the evolutionary process and its impact on various species.
- Understanding Genomics in Medicine: In this course, you’ll get in-depth exposure to the Human Genome Project, and you’ll study how diseases impact us on a genetic level.
- Cell Biology: From macromolecules to microscopy, this course will provide detailed analysis of how cells work.
- Animal Behavior: Animal behavior has a variety of origins, from evolutionary to neurological, and you’ll review evidence for all behavior.
- Biology of Parasites: Parasites and pathogens are common dependent species of living organisms and are the focus of this course.
- Regional Biology: In this course, you’ll examine how environmental factors, such as heat or freezing temperatures, can impact local biology.
- Developmental Genomics: This course examines how genes and molecular interaction impact biological development.
- Analytical Biotechnology: This course combines technology and analytical skills to examine biomolecules and report findings.
- Cell Proliferation: This course studies the processes through which cells divide or multiply.
- Freshwater Biology: In this course, you’ll examine freshwater sources, such as ponds and lakes, to examine the overall ecology and health of biological factors there.
Your courses can also help you develop research skill sets for the dissertation component of your program.
Online PhD in Biology Admissions Requirements
PhD programs in biology can have different admissions requirements. You can visit a school’s website or call their admissions office to verify the specific criteria for their application process.
For many schools, doctoral applicants are asked to provide the following:
- GRE or GMAT scores (only some schools require them)
- Bachelor or masters degree in biology or related field like an online masters in biostatistics
- Official undergraduate and graduate transcripts
- Letters of recommendation
- Statement of intent
As part of the application process, you may also be asked to complete an application, attend interviews with those in the department, and present prior thesis work.
Online Biology PhD Programs Accreditation
When reviewing various schools that offer a doctorate degree in biology, you may wish to only pay attention to institutions that hold regional accreditation. Programs that have earned accreditation have been examined for their educational excellence. This means the courses and instructors have earned a positive reputation for their impact on students.
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Qualification for future professional memberships and licenses may be tied to participation in an accredited program. Additionally, many employers indicate that a degree from an accredited school is necessary for employment. This could also impact the publishing of your studies. To verify a school’s accreditation status, you can visit the website of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Financial Aid and Scholarships
If you’re interested in financial assistance for your doctoral degree, there are various options available for students who qualify.
To see if you’re eligible for government assistance, you can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. This federal program provides need-based financial aid to students across the country. Student loans are the most common form of federal aid. Additionally, you may wish to check with your prospective school regarding scholarships or grants available to students who are pursuing biological studies.
There may be opportunities for assistance based on your concentration or prior academic work. Some employers also provide tuition assistance or reimbursement to workers who are pursuing higher education.
What Can You Do with a Doctorate in Biology?
Earning a doctorate degree in biology can help you advance your professional qualifications and skill sets in your chosen area of concentration.
Biological sciences impact much of the world around us. For instance, some graduates choose to go into the field and research various species directly, while others work in a lab, concentrating on genetic development or microbiology. After graduation, some professionals choose to continue their research or pursue a role as an educator and mentor. Others go on to become biochemists, biophysicists, or medical scientists.
Biologists are employed in a variety of sectors, and your chosen doctoral track will impact your qualifications for various career paths.
How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Biology?
The length of time it takes to complete a PhD in Biology can depend on several factors, including any field work or dissertation work that is part of the program.
Generally speaking, a doctorate degree in biology takes between 3 years and 5 years to complete with full-time study. This also depends on the number of credit hours required by the program. Part-time enrollment will often extend your time to completion.
A program that does not ask students to complete a dissertation can potentially be completed in 3 years with full-time study.
Is Getting a PhD in Biology Worth It?
Yes, getting a PhD in Biology is worth it for many professionals. Those with a PhD in Biology have unique insight into how our lives are impacted by our own genetics, parasites, environmental factors, and more. This may be why careers in biological fields are on the rise.
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Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 8% job growth for life, physical, and social science occupations over the next ten years. A PhD can also help you qualify for positions in research and academia. Selecting a career path in biological sciences can allow greater insight into why our world is the way it is.
Universities Offering Online Doctorate in Biology Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
George Mason University’s PhD in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology program is available 100% online. Students are required to complete 72 total credits. Class options include Systems Biology, Biological Data Analysis, Biological Sequence and Genome Analysis, Research Ethics, Numerical Methods for Bioinformatics, and more. Courses are delivered synchronously.
George Mason University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Nova Southeastern University offers a PhD in Marine Biology and Oceanography. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis for fall, spring, and summer terms. The degree can be earned on campus or online. Students are usually able to finish within 5 years. Graduates have gone on to careers in the government and academia.
Nova Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Texas A&M University offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences. The program includes 4 tracks: Physiology and Developmental Biology, Infection, Immunity, and Epidemiology, Diagnostics and Therapeutics, and Biomedical Genomics and Bioinformatics. Each track can be tailored to specific research interests.
Texas A&M University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Texas Tech University offers a hybrid program for a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction (Track in STEM) that requires the completion of 63 credit hours. Much of the coursework is completed online, but in the summer, students take on-campus intensive courses. Prospective students must have a master’s degree to apply.
Texas Tech University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Florida offers a PhD in Anatomical Science Education. Students must complete at least 90 credit hours to graduate. Coursework includes Medical Human Embryology, Science Curriculum Development, Medical Histology, Medical Cell Biology, Essential Human Anatomy, and more. Students must also successfully defend a dissertation.
The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Mississippi offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Secondary Education with an emphasis in Biology. This program is intended for students with at least 2 years of professional teaching experience. The full degree is only available at the main campus, but select courses are available online or at regional campuses.
The University of Mississippi is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Earning Your Doctoral Degree in Biology Online
If you have a significant interest in the biological sciences, earning your doctorate degree in biology online can allow you to develop your expertise in the specialty of your choosing.
A PhD program will also enable you to contribute research to the field. Many doctoral students go on to pursue positions in research and academia, while others pursue advanced roles in the field. A number of accredited universities now offer both masters degree in biology online programs as well as doctoral programs online, catering to working professionals.
If you’re ready to get started on the next steps in your education and career, you can check out available biology doctoral programs offered online by accredited schools.