We hear often that there is a growing demand for young people graduating with a degree in the sciences. The United States is lagging behind other nations in the number of new graduates with scientific disciplines. Opportunities for graduates in the sciences will only grow in the coming years, and biologists are particularly in demand.
Biology, simply put, is the study of living organisms. It is a very diverse subject with a lot of opportunity to specialize. It would be impossible to study and become an expert in the entire corpus of biological knowledge, so most will choose to become an expert in one particular discipline. Each specialization can lead to a variety of rewarding careers both in the private and public sector. Specializations include molecular biology, human physiology, ecology, environmental sciences and a myriad of other possibilities. This article is meant to give an introduction into a typical biology undergraduate program and provide you with some important information if you are considering a degree in biology.
Be prepared for a very busy first year:
Your first year will typically be full of lectures and practical work. The practical work will vary based up on your focus. For some, such as students focusing on genealogy or cellular biology, there will be a lot of lab work. Those with a different focus, such as ecology might have field work instead of lab work. The first year can be intense as you become acclimated to the fast pace and rigor of the degree program. Staying caught up this first year will help develop good habits and prepare you for future years.
As you progress in your degree:
After the first year and after you have taken some prerequisite classes, your degree structure will be tailored to your particular specialization. There will likely be less classes focused on lecture, and more time spent focusing on lab work, field work or personal research.
Final research project:
Most undergraduate degrees in biology require a final research project. In some schools, this can be done as a group project and in other schools it is an individual effort. Whether it is a group project or individual project, you are often required to choose from a pre-approved list of research topics. Your particular school will provide guidelines for the research project that must be followed in order to graduate.
Consider getting a graduate degree:
Like many other industries, a bachelor degree is typically required even for entry level job opportunities. However, getting a graduate degree in biology will increase those opportunities. It will also land you the more interesting and higher paid positions. In some schools, a graduate degree can be attained in a year, others it can take two or more years. Depending on how you would like to use your biology degree, it may be worth the extra time and money to stay in school a little longer and get the graduate degree.
More Degrees in Biology: