A Brief History of the Biology Major
Biology, the study of living organisms and life in relation to a number of different specialized fields, traces back to ancient times, according to the University of California. It is believed that even the earliest humans passed on their knowledge about plants and animals to increase chances of their survival. Before the actual study of life and living organisms, there were several other terms and titles associated with the studying of plants and animals. Up until the 19th century, the study of biology was divided by medicine and natural history, and is more commonly a wide area of study today with a number of sub-disciplines in the area.
Biology is a field that continues to advance and be researched, with new disciplines, studies, and advancements being evaluated and viewed as a form or subcategory within the biology field. Today, biology is still studied in a number of different disciplines and is offered in degree programs at various levels at many colleges and universities across the country.
Delving Into the Biology Major
Biology is a major concentration that involves the study of a number of different subcategories and fields. While the specific degree requirements and biology degree curriculums at a school will vary between learning institutions, most biology degree programs teach students the same knowledge, skills, and concepts they will need to excel in the field.
Some of the common courses required in biology degree programs include (but are not limited to): cell biology, genetics, physiology, human diseases, global ecology, human anatomy, biochemistry, and immunology, such as in the degree plan outlined by Sul Ross State University. Other courses may include health sciences, sociobiology, human behavior, genetics, and cell biology.
Students in biology degree programs will also likely be responsible for conducting various projects and assignments related to their courses. Depending on the course and the professor some of these may include dissections, viewing cells and specimens under a microscope, and working in a biology laboratory or similar setting.
Other projects may be assigned to be sure that students are understanding what they are studying and students may need to work with plants, animals, and cells. Students are also likely required to read books or chapters from their textbooks, as they are likely to be evaluated on that material in their exams.
An associate degree in biology teaches students the general and basic concepts in the field that will prepare them for entry level jobs in biology related careers. A associate degree in biology typically takes students about two years to complete and through the courses required in associate bachelor degree programs, students can enter the career world or continue their education to pursue a bachelor degree in the field.
Some of the skills and knowledge biology students will learn include the basics of living organisms and their habitats, and the fundamentals of animals, the human body, and plants. Students will also learn how to perform biological experiments in laboratory settings.
Bachelor’s degree programs in biology go into more depth about the study of living organisms, plants, and animals and generally take students about four years to complete. Students that study biology at the bachelor level degree program are prepared with the skills and knowledge they will need to excel in the biology field.
Some of these skills include critical thinking, the ability to research and learn, and have a good understanding of different life forms. Students will also know how to work in a laboratory setting, will have experience working with technological equipment and devices, and students will also gain an understanding of foundations of scientific methods.
A master’s degree in biology requires students to conduct plenty of research and generally takes students between one and a half and two years to complete, after the completion of a bachelor degree.
Master’s degree program in biology are research-intensive and allow students to have advanced knowledge and expertise in a specialized area or concentration in biology. Students studying advanced topics in master’s degree programs learn more about the theories, evolution, and research associated within that specific biology field.
A doctorate degree in biology is a rigorous and intensive research heavy degree program that is usually pursued by individuals that wish to continue to conduct research in the field or those that wish to pursue teaching or educator careers.
A doctoral degree in biology is usually spent conducting plenty of research in a specialized field and writing a research style book with those findings. The book is the culmination of your degree and takes years of hard work, research, and study.
Supplementing Your Biology Major
Depending on the college or university a student attends, there are a number of different concentrations within a biology degree program. Some concentrations of biology degrees can include genetics, forensic science, animal behavior, molecular and cellular biology, ecology, and physiology.
Most students also have the option of adding a minor concentration to their degree program to learn more about another field as well. Having a minor in another subject not only allows students to have knowledge in another area, but is also likely to widen job opportunities, giving students the opportunity to qualify for more jobs in another area as well.
Some minors that may pair well with biology include those in education, chemistry, or math. Education is a good minor for those that want to pursue teaching careers and have the option to teach at a number of different levels. A minor in chemistry gives students more knowledge into the field as chemistry is a study of biology, while a minor in math is good because it also gives students more knowledge in the field, which could make them in higher demand, over those that do not have more knowledge in the field.
A biology graduate with a minor concentration in chemistry can pursue jobs in nutrition, environmental sciences, or the medicine and health industries. A biology graduate with a minor in math can have versatile career options such as in statistics, research, chemistry, or a financial position within a research or medical company.
Learn More About the Biology Major
- US News and World Report’s Best Science Schools
- US News and World Report’s Molecular Biology Rankings
- Biology Open Courseware
- Biology Direct
The Biology Major in the Job Market
Studying the courses and concepts within most biology degrees, students learn a number of different skills as well as the knowledge they will need to pursue careers in a number of different fields and industries. Students who pursue biology degrees take a number of courses that allow them to understand the basics and fundamentals of the study of living organisms and life forms as well as more advanced areas in the field. Through these courses, students will learn skills such as critical thinking skills, research skills, and the skills they need to conduct experiments and work in laboratory settings.
Graduates of biology degree programs are also familiar with human physiology and anatomy, animal biology, and plants and by studying, researching, and learning these concepts, students will be further prepared to qualify for jobs in the field. The knowledge and skills are all important qualities that employers will look for in employees and employers expect that potential candidates are prepared and know what they need to in order to do their jobs. In addition, those individuals with the experience, training, and education in the field are likely to fit the requirements of many employers and may have the best job opportunities in the field.
Graduates of biology degrees can enter a number of different fields and industries including (but not limited to): healthcare, environmental science, agriculture, medicine, chemistry, research, government jobs, genetics, criminal justice, or other sciences, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They can go on to pursue careers in these fields such as a teacher, researcher, science technician, laboratory technician or specialist, forensic scientist, forensic analyst, physician, botanist, or environmental or agricultural scientist.
Graduates of biology degree programs will also be familiar with technology associated with the health and medical fields, know how to work as part of a team, have good communication and time management skills, and know how to organize themselves when in the work area.