Online Graduate Programs in Biology | Biology Online Degrees

Graduate students who work towards an online biology degree are often exposed to current research in biological sciences, presented in a virtual classroom. As the discipline has many branches, students might choose a focal area. For instance, on molecular genetics, genomics, infectious diseases, or biochemistry.

Often, this helps a student develop mastery of a specific aspect of biology online, while at the same time building practical skills to apply to their present career.

Biology Online Graduate Programs

Why Consider an Online Biology Degree?

At the graduate level, an online biology degree is designed to meet the needs of professional who require a flexible course schedule. Students can often fit courses around their work and home life. And, learners from around the globe may be able to participate and earn their Masters, PhD or post-masters certificate at their own pace.

Graduate Biology Courses Online

One of the differentiators between online biology graduate programs is their syllabus. And, the faculty who brings their expertise to teach the courses.

Below is a sample of graduate biology courses, although each school offers its own course of study.

  • Biological Chemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Systems biology
  • Genetics
  • Human Physiology
  • Microbiology

Biology Online Degree Objectives

Those who seek their PhD or Masters in biology online may find that the program is highly research-focused. However, online graduate study may place more emphasis on reading material and on a student’s original writing unless there are arrangements to conduct experiments in a local laboratory.

Other goals of online biology programs might include those listed below.

  • Help grad students grasp key concepts, identify and solve basic biological problems
  • Boost the ability to think critically and solve problems
  • Foster new ideas
  • Explore new areas of science
  • Design, implement, and evaluate scientific investigations
  • Assess, interpret, and understand data
  • Contribute original thought through a MS thesis or PhD dissertation

Online Biology Student Experience

Students who pursue a biology degree online may be able to access their courses anytime, which could lessen the pressure if you work full time. Moreover, today’s online graduate student often has a great support network.

Students typically work with an advisor to select coursework. Plus biology faculty members often have online office hours or are reachable for questions.

Finally, many online graduate programs in biology offer support through tutors, career services, librarians, and writing centers. Contact individual online biology schools to learn what resources might be available.

Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: Biological Scientists, All Other
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA$97,620440
Dayton, OH$97,45070
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV$95,6804,010
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA$93,270620
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA$91,8502,640

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Connect and Collaborate While Earning an Online Biology Degree

Distance learning often preserves the qualities of a campus program. For instance, a school may have small class size to promote thoughtful discussion and contact between students and faculty. E-mail, electronic forums, videoconferencing, chat rooms, bulletin boards, instant messaging and other forms of computer-based interaction are often used for these purposes. Or, the university might use a satellite network to carry live on-campus classes to students at multiple corporate sites. 

Types of Online Graduate Programs in Biology

An online biology graduate program is often a time for students to fine-tune their skills, and/or prepare for potential career advancement. Some graduate students may choose to earn a general MS or PhD in biology with a focal point that mirrors an interest. This could be emerging infectious diseases or human biology. Each school presents different options.

Other students may know early on they want to pursue an online biology degree with a narrower theme. These could include:

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Genetics and Genomics

Online Biochemistry Graduate Programs

Online Biochemistry graduate programs may offer courses in biochemistry, molecular genetics, medicinal chemistry and cancer studies. Future students may need to have a bachelor's degree in biochemistry or related degree and prerequisite coursework (e.g. physics).

Popular Online Biology Graduate Programs

ProgramInstitutionDegree Awarded
Life SciencesUniversity of Maryland - College ParkMS
Ph.D. Human ScienceSaybrook UniversityPhD
MS in Chemical EngineeringVillanova UniversityMS
Anatomy Certification ProgramTulane UniversityN/A
Master of Education in BiologyUniversity of West AlabamaMEd
GenomicsUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillMEd
Clinical Molecular GeneticsNorthern Michigan UniversityMS
Master of Science in Molecular BiologyLehigh UniversityMS
Advanced Inquiry ProgramMiami UniversityN/A
Analytical Method DevelopmentIllinois Institute of TechnologyN/A
Teachers in Biology (Master of Science in General Biology)Mississippi State UniversityMA
MA: Medical Sciences: Molecular MedicineLiberty University OnlineN/A
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Online Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Programs

Online Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Programs may examine core topics such as biochemistry and advanced cell biology. Also, students may take various electives to tailor their program to their needs. These courses could cover immunology and the development of disease.

Often courses that expand on biomedical techniques are completed at a distance site in consultation with school staff. Applicants may need a Bachelors degree in a life science or chemistry and prerequisite coursework (e.g. intro to genetics).

Online Genetics and Genomics Graduate Programs

Online Genetics and Genomics Graduate Programs may explore bioethics, biotechnology and bioscience. Some programs of this nature may be available as post-masters programs. They may introduce students to the basics of bioinformatics as well as genomic analysis and other advanced topics.

Online Masters in Biology

Applicants to online masters biology programs typically need to have a Bachelors in Biology or related degree, minimum GPA, referral letters and an essay. Also, they may have to specify a planned program of study at the outset. And, they may have to choose a thesis or non-thesis option.

That said, like campus students, those who pursue their Masters in biology online may be able to design a course of study to meet their own career goals. Also, they may have the opportunity to conduct independent research and study, as well as to collaborate through threaded discussion boards.

Online Graduate Certificate in Biology

Online graduate certificate in biology programs may provide an enhanced skill-set, extra credential or option along the way to a masters degree. Generally, five or six courses, a certificate is a shorter program than a full online biology degree but it may fill a gap in one’s education.

For instance, some online graduate biology courses for teachers are offered as certificates. They might help a current educator learn how to teach biology or fulfill credit requirements that are part of a state license process.

Or a current scientist who already has a solid base in biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology may enroll to develop bioinformatics skills to design experiments and analyze data.

Topics and requirements may vary widely, so it's best to contact schools directly for details.

Online PhD Biology Programs

Biology PhD online programs are designed to prepare students to become scholars, scientists and independent researchers.i Often, students customize their program with the help of an advisor. Aside from core courses, PhD candidates may choose from focused topics in biology. These may span molecular biology, cell biology, neurobiology and bacteriology.

Consequently, PhD students may develop the ability to apply biology principles to their original research (dissertation). They may also learn advanced analytical and experimental techniques to conduct new research, and contribute to their field. 

Typically this research is performed using the Internet or other school-approved sources. Any lab work might be conducted locally, through approved sites.

Biology Career Outlook

Those who earn a biology online degree may be prepared to pursue a variety of possible careers. One example is the role of biochemist or biophysicist. These roles require a doctoral or professional degree. While most work in research, others are employed in places such as universities, pharmaceutical manufacturers and biotech companies.

Per the BLS, employment of biochemists and biophysicists is expected to grow by 8 percent through to 2024, especially in biomedical research. The median annual wage for biochemists and biophysicists was $82,180 in May 2016.ii


Applied research in biochemistry and biophysics has many uses outside of medicine.ii

Accredited Online Biology Graduate Programs

Universities with online biology degree programs are usually regionally accredited. Students can also keep an eye out for programs that are approved by specific professional accreditors.

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Best 21 Online Biology Graduate Programs ​ Below:

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