Biological Sciences Curriculum
Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated December 2010
Studying in the field
If you're reading this article, you've presumably passed high school biology, and have most likely earned a college degree at least related to the biology field.
Therefore, you know how exciting - and quite frankly, exotic - the field of biological sciences can be.
While others would balk at such a sentence, you know that the advancement of laboratory techniques and our ever-growing understanding of the nature of life on this planet, as well as the ways in which it develops and evolves, are changing the very face of science as we know it. And that can positively affect the way all humans live for thousands of years to come.
It is for this reason that the study of biology is so important, and why earning a graduate degree in the field is so rewarding. Plus, the avenues you can pursue are almost limitless.
According to www.aibs.org , students who pursue a degree in the biological sciences can specialize in:
- Environmental management and conservation
- Forensic science
- Public policy
- Science writing
While some of these specific fields may seem obvious (biotechnology and research, for example, or anything involving the environment or animal life), others of them may be surprising. But these days, advances in the biological sciences have impacts that are so far-reaching, and so important for society as a whole, that a close look proves that professions like public policy and economics are, in fact, inextricably tied to the biological sciences.
Therefore, students who pursue a graduate degree in the biological sciences will be exposed to a wide range of courses and will engage in class and laboratory work that will challenge them in ways they may never have imagined.
In fact, it is not uncommon for a grad student to take classes in areas as diverse as molecular biology, plant physiology, immunology, toxicology, ecology, satellite limnology and others (www.bio.mtu.edu). And beyond the study of the sciences that pertain to this field, some students may also wish to engage in coursework that deals with such tangentially related fields as economics, policy-making and medicine. Indeed, such is the nature of the biological sciences that a graduate degree in the field can potentially take you in directions you never imagined.
Job opportunities in the field
Because the biological sciences are expanding all the time-and because, as our understanding of it changes and grows, it begins to encompass more and more areas of study and research-this is a field whose job prospects are, like the universe itself, forever expanding. Because of that, there are plenty of opportunities to start terrific careers. But be aware that some of the jobs that require Ph.D's can be very competitive.
Make sure this does not discourage you from pursuing the highest level of graduate study, however, because a degree in any area of this field from an accredited, well-respected university is likely to lead to a great job and a rewarding life.
The range of earnings is as wide as actual positions. This is largely due to the wide variety of specific fields in which biological sciences graduates may work. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides the following examples of earnings in the field:
Median annual earnings of biochemists and biophysicists were $68,950 in May 2004.
Median annual earnings of microbiologists were $54,840 in May 2004.
- The middle 50 percent earned between $49,430 and $88,540.
- The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,710.
- The highest 10 percent earned more than $110,660.
Median annual earnings of zoologists and wildlife biologists were $50,330 in May 2004.
- The middle 50 percent earned between $41,000 and $74,260.
- The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,630.
- The highest 10 percent earned more than $101,720.
Median annual earnings of biochemists and biophysicists employed in scientific research and development services were $73,900 in May 2004" (BLS).
- The middle 50 percent earned between $39,150 and $63,800.
- The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,450.
- The highest 10 percent earned more than $81,200.
Note that while this is certainly not an exhaustive list, it nonetheless give us an idea of the earning potential, which, in general, is quite high.
But there is more to a career in the biological sciences than money. From the creativity and the challenging intellectual environment to the exciting nature of the cutting-edge research that is the hallmark of much of the field, the level of job satisfaction is likely to be high for most graduates. And that alone is reason enough to consider pursuing a graduate degree in this ever-changing, ever-engrossing field.
View Graduate Programs in Bilogical Sciences