35 Best Master’s Degrees in Biology 2020

| Staff

Advertisement GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Best Online Badge

Biology is at the root of all living things. Grad School Hub‘s 35 Best Master’s Degrees in Biology help build students’ understanding and research skills in the vital life sciences. 

The biological sciences examine life from the molecular to ecological levels. They are the basis of all-natural life that the human eye can and cannot see. With one of the following 35 Best Master’s Degrees in Biology, students can delve into the biological world through laboratory- and literature-based research. Some programs listed focus on a particular area of biological sciences, such as cell biology, dentistry-related oral biology, marine biology, or plant biology. Others offer a broader scope of studies in the biological sciences. Some programs listed offer both thesis and non-thesis options, though most are rooted in some form of independent research. 

Depending on their chosen program, graduates will be prepared to pursue doctoral study or careers in biology within academia, business, government, medicine, and beyond. Most biology masters programs prepare students for jobs that are based in research. For example, biological scientists may work in laboratory environments that assess natural resource management or pharmaceuticals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, biological scientists made a median salary of $79,590. The job outlook for biochemists, biophysicists, and biological technicians is growing at a rate of 10-11%, which is faster than average. This is possible because of rapid developments and new findings in the study of living things and biological processes.

Top 10 Best Master’s Degrees in Biology 2020

Rank School Location
1 University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, CA
2 University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA
3 Stanford University Stanford, CA
4 University of California, Irvine Irvine, CA
5 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
6 Texas A&M University College Station, TX
7 Tufts University Medford, MA
8 University of Maryland, College Park College Park, MD
9 University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN
10 University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA
Advertisement GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Accredited Online College Programs

Methodology

The staff of Grad School Hub has compiled the following 35 Best Master’s Degrees in Biology for the 2019-20 academic school year based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Data contributed from sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics, and the U.S. Department of Labor plays a significant role in how graduate degree programs are ranked because institutional transparency is essential for deciding which career path is right for you. Based on this data, GSH organizes information into five weighted categories, which are:

  • Alumni Feedback: 20% 
  • Continued Enrollment: 20% 
  • Degree Selectivity: 10%
  • Graduate Expenses: 25%
  • Projected Annual Salary: 25%

A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible through our Ranking Methodology page. 

Here are the 35 Best Master’s Degrees in Biology for 2019 – 2020!

  1. University of California, Berkeley
    Location

    Berkeley, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Grad School Hub's No. 1 Master's Degree in Biology for 2020 is available through the University of California, Berkeley. The university's Master of Science in Integrative Biology is only provided to students who are admitted to the Ph.D. in Integrative Biology program. However, the master's degree is not required for the Ph.D., and some students decide to withdraw from the MSIB with a terminal master's degree instead. Master's students may choose to follow a thesis plan that requires 20-semester units of graduate study. Alternatively, students can choose a non-thesis plan requiring 24 units and culminating in a comprehensive exam. Graduate course offerings include seminars in biomechanics, ecology, evolution, isotopics, and paleontology. Founded in 1868, Berkeley now has close research relationships with three United States Department of Energy National Laboratories. Berkeley researchers have discovered 16 chemical elements of the periodic table and invented the cyclotron particle accelerator.

  2. University of California, Los Angeles
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of California, Los Angeles awards a Master of Science in Oral Biology through its School of Dentistry. The degree program is open to scholars with dental degrees and seeks additional research experience. It requires 36 units of study, which includes core courses, electives, and a culminating thesis and defense. Students can expect to start working in laboratory environments during their first year of study. Students are also expected to identify their chosen research area and faculty member by the end of their first year. Fields of study include bone biology, cancer surveillance, neurobiology, and pathology.

    UCLA opened its doors to California in 1919 as the Southern Branch of the University of California. Originally a teacher training school, it is now a public research university and a member of the University of California system. A land-grant institution, Notable UCLA health discoveries include the first AIDS diagnosis and developments in the use of brain scanning technology and nitric oxide.

  3. Stanford University
    Location

    Stanford, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Stanford University offers a Master of Science in Biology. The coterminal master's program is only available to current Stanford students, such as undergraduates and students enrolled in other graduate programs. It is suitable for students seeking advanced coursework and research experience in biology. Students without a BS in Biology may be required to take additional preparatory coursework. The MS degree requires 45 units of academic credit. Stanford designed the MSB to be a terminal degree and is not a route to the doctoral program. However, the university does offer a Ph.D. in Biology for interested students.

    Stanford was founded in 1885 by Leland and Jane Stanford in memory of their son. Leland Stanford was a U.S. Senator, former Governor of California, and railroad tycoon. The university opened in 1891 as coeducation and nondenominational school. Today, it is a private research university in Stanford, California. The university and its alumni have played a major role in the development of Silicon Valley nearby. Stanford is part of Biohub, a medical science research center founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg. U.S. News & World Report ranks Stanford seventh overall in the nation and fifth for both value and innovation. The university is also ranked first nationally in graduate-level Biological Sciences programs.

  4. University of California, Irvine
    Location

    Irvine, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of California, Irvine awards a Master of Science in Biotechnology. The degree program teaches students to apply an understanding of biology, chemistry, and chemical engineering to solve problems in agriculture, chemical manufacturing, and medicine. In the first year of the program, students begin participating in technical laboratory research in areas such as protein isolation, animal cell culture, and DNA methodology. Students can also expect to work with faculty on research projects. The MSB's areas of study also include the structure and biosynthesis of nucleic acids and proteins, product development and marketing, and research methods.

    UC Irvine is a public land-grant university is classified in the top tier of research universities by the Carnegie Foundation. UC Irvine is noted for its teaching hospital and health sciences system, for its arboretum and natural reserve, and the nation's first university earth system science department. U.S. News & World Report ranks UCI at No. 45 for Most Innovative Schools, No. 33 for National Universities, and seventh for Top Public Schools. The university is ranked No. 33 nationally in Biological Sciences at the graduate level.

  5. University of Pennsylvania
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Pennsylvania offers a Master of Science in Oral Biology. The degree program is only available as a concurrent program for students enrolled in one of the university's postgraduate dental training programs. The MS in Oral Biology is designed to offer students opportunities for extensive research and evidence-based learning in oral biology. Students can choose a track built around hands-on research activities or one built around literature-based research. Depending on their selected track, students are expected to participate in either a significant research project or literature review. An oral presentation on the research project or literature review is required.

    UPenn was founded in 1740 by Founding Father Benjamin Franklin and home to the nation's first collegiate schools of business and medicine and its first student union. The private research university is a member of the United States' prestigious Ivy League. U.S. News & World Report ranks Penn at No. 32 in innovation, No. 12 for best value, and eighth nationally. The university ranks at No. 23 in graduate-level Biological Sciences programs.

  6. Texas A&M University
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Texas A&M University awards a Master of Science in Biology. The degree program is designed to develop students' understanding of biology through creative and research-based approaches. TAMU's thesis track requires 32 credits of study, while the non-thesis track requires 36 credits. The non-thesis program typically culminates in a final comprehensive exam. Course offerings include Biological Clocks, Cell Biology, Microbial Genetics, and Plant Molecular Biology. Students also have opportunities to attend presentations given by biological scientists. Students are also encouraged to participate in science journal discussion clubs.

    Texas A&M has grown into the largest university in Texas and the second-largest in the United States by student enrollment. Located in College Station, the public research university is the founding member of the Texas A&M University System. It is a land, sea, and space grant institution and a member of the Association of American Universities. U.S. News & World Report ranks A&M at No. 66 nationally, No. 44 for best value, No. 37 for innovation, and No. 24 among public schools. The university's graduate biology programs are ranked at No. 62 nationally.

  7. Tufts University
    Location

    Medford, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Tufts University offers a Master of Science in Biology. The degree program builds students' creative and critical thinking skills through coursework, seminars, and research experience in contemporary biology. Students can choose from five concentrations: Developmental Biology; Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution; Genetics and Molecular Biology; Global Change Biology; and Physiology, Neurobiology, and Biomechanics. Students also have the option to follow a part-time program with a focus in Functional Genomics, which helps prepare graduates for biotechnology careers. The MS program is available in a full-time format and a part-time format designed for working professionals. The part-time program involves evening courses and can be completed within two years.

    Tufts was founded in 1852 by Christian universalists. Originally a nonsectarian liberal arts college, it is now a private research university. It emphasizes active citizenship, public service, and internationalism. It operates four campuses in the Boston metropolitan area and the French Alps. The university has joint programs and partnerships with institutions including the University of Paris, the University of London, and nearby Harvard and MIT. U.S. News & World Report ranks Tufts at No. 45 for Most Innovative Schools, No. 27 for National Universities, and No. 26 for Best Value Schools. The university's Department of Biology is ranked No. 73 nationally at the graduate level.

  8. University of Maryland, College Park
    Location

    College Park, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Maryland, College Park awards a Master of Science in Biological Sciences. The degree program is offered only as a step toward the Ph.D. program. It requires 30 credit hours of graduate study, including six credits of master's thesis research. The curriculum includes two core required courses: Responsible Conduct of Research for Biologists and Teaching & Professional Development in Biology. Students are offered opportunities for teaching assistantships. Students who earn the MS degree must then go on to pursue the university's Ph.D. degree in Biological Sciences.

    The University of Maryland is a Carnegie-classified top-tier research institution and a member of the Association of American Universities. It receives significant research support from agencies including NASA and the National Institutes of Health. U.S. News & World Report ranks UMD at No. 63 nationally and No. 22 among public schools. The university's graduate-level Biological Sciences programs rank at No. 62 nationally.

  9. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
    Location

    Minneapolis, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities designed its Master of Biological Sciences for working professionals, the degree program is multidisciplinary and career-focused. The MBS requires 30 credit hours of graduate study, where students can choose to follow a degree plan which includes a research project, or one that is built around coursework only. The coursework-only plan culminates in a capstone course, paper, and presentation. Students can take classes from various colleges and departments within the university. These courses must include the areas of biochemistry and bioethics, as well as in two of the following three areas: cellular and organismal biology, environmental and population biology, and molecular biosciences.

    In addition, students can personalize the remainder of their study plan with an academic adviser. The MBS can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. Established in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, it is the oldest and largest campus within the system. UMTC is a Carnegie-classified top-tier research university and a member of the Association of American Universities. It is a land- and space-grant institution. The university is also counted among the nation's "Public Ivies."

  10. University of Virginia
    Location

    Charlottesville, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Virginia offers both Master of Arts and Master of Science degree options in Biology. The degree program is designed to prepare graduates for doctoral study or careers in conservation, education, public policy, and research. The degree requires 30 credit hours of graduate study. This includes four lectures or labs and a colloquium or journal club. The degree program also requires the successful written completion and oral defense of a research thesis. The MS thesis is typically based on laboratory research, while the MA thesis is based more on independent literature-based research. Either degree program can be completed in two and a half years.

    UVA was founded by Founding Father Thomas Jefferson in 1819. Beyond these historic beginnings, the public research university is also noted for its secret societies and student-run honor code. Located in Charlottesville, It was the first university in the South to join the prestigious Association of American Universities. The university's significant research areas include astrophysics, hypersonic flight, neurological diseases, and wind turbines. U.S. News & World Report lists UVA at No. 32 for Most Innovative Schools, No. 28 for Best Value Schools, 25 for National Universities, and third for Top Public Schools. The university is ranked at No. 46 nationally in graduate-level biology programs.

Latest Posts

See All Posts
10 Best Master’s Degrees in Archaeology 2020

10 Best Master’s Degrees in Archaeology 2020

August 6, 2020   |   Staff

The field of archaeology uncovers the artifacts and materials that speak volumes about the human species and the societies we build. Studying these materials deepens human understanding of our cultural...

5 Best Online Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology

5 Best Online Master’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology

August 12, 2020   |   Staff

Child and Adolescent Psychology examines the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of children and adolescents. Master's degree programs in Child and Adolescent Psychology can equip students with significant insight into both the...

Advertisement GradSchoolHub.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Discover a program that is right for you.

Explore different options for you based on your degree interests.