3 answers

Best school for Biology?

Updated Big Stone Gap, Virginia

3 answers

Eric’s Answer

Updated

Emily,

Glad to see that you are thinking and trying to plan your future as a biologist, but while there are "Top 10" lists for Biology as noted by Andrea, above, Biology is a very, very broad field and I would suggest seeing if you can focus your attention. Two way to do this, really think about what you like now and determine if you have a passion for a particular area (e.g., forestry, medicine/pharma [hospitals, animals/veterinary, drug production], computational, synthetic biology, ecology, biotechnology, etc.) and then look for top universities in that focus area as that will ultimately keep you more engaged, and with that as a specialty those universities would likely has extensive networks and aid to help place graduating students. Secondly, if you don't know what area piques your interest, go to a general program (e.g., those on the Top 10 list or even a local mid-grade university) and do as many internships, co-ops, or work studies as possible and see if you can find your passion. Then focus at that university, transfer or go on to graduate degrees (Masters/Ph.D.) at universities that align with your passion.


All the best!

Eric

Andrea’s Answer

Updated

Hello Emily - I recently read a USA Today article (click here), where they listed the top 10 colleges for Biology. MIT, Stanford and Tufts were the top 3, but many more were listed. It is a good major if you know you want to go into science, or even medicine, but are not quite sure of specific focus. I hope this article helps and that you find your personal path. The best advice I can give is to find something that you love, and make it your career. Best of luck to you!!

Nick’s Answer

Updated Camarillo, California

Hi Emily,

One of the major advantages to larger universities is the access to research labs. Doing research is a great way to understand the nuances of biological systems, and it will help you decide if a career in research is for you. Smaller colleges (i.e. Liberal Arts schools) may be more inclined to focus on in class experiences. As a student at a research university (USC) I noticed that my professors were often disinterested in lecturing and they didn't spend the time needed to explain topics in novel ways to reach all students.

Ultimately, you will need an advanced degree (Master's or PhD) in biology to pursue most careers. That includes pursuing medicine (i.e. medical doctor, nurse, pharmacist) and industry careers (i.e. working in a pharmaceuticals lab). In those advanced degree programs you will learn the specifics of what is required for you to succeed in those fields, and you'll need a string GPA in order to get accepted into any graduate program. So, my other bit of advice is to find an undergraduate major that interests you, you don't have to commit to a specific aspect of biology early on. It is a broad field, so explore it, take different classes. But keep in mind that not every university offers an abundance of biology courses. Look at the course catalogs to see what is offered and if those classes seem interesting.

Nick recommends the following next steps:

  • Make a list of schools you might be interested in
  • See what specific majors, minors, and classes they offer
  • Look for information about what fields graduates pursue. Many schools will have newsletters about accomplishments of graduates and current faculty https://dornsife.usc.edu/bisc/newsletter-archive/