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Choosing the right online accelerated biology degree program is crucial for those seeking a quick and flexible path to careers in this field. These programs provide students with essential skills in scientific thinking, research methods, and specialized knowledge in genetics, ecology, and cellular biology. Graduates are well-prepared for many roles, from zoologists and wildlife biologists, earning a median salary of $70,600, to microbiologists, with a median salary of $85,470. Accelerated programs typically allow students to complete their degrees in two to three years, significantly faster than traditional programs, making them ideal for motivated learners eager to jumpstart their careers in the biological sciences.

How to Choose an Online Accelerated Biology Program

Choose your area of study

Selecting a specialization is crucial for aligning your education with your career goals — ultimately making you more competitive in the job market. Options like genetics, environmental biology, or biotechnology are designed for distinct interests and professional paths. For instance, students passionate about disease prevention might specialize in microbiology, preparing them for roles in healthcare and research labs. Meanwhile, those interested in sustainability could focus on environmental biology, leading to conservation or ecological consulting careers.

Research schools and programs

There are several things to consider when researching schools and programs for this degree. Consider using the following questions to guide your research:

  • What specializations does the program offer?
  • What is the program’s graduation rate and job placement rate?
  • Are there opportunities for research or internships?

You can find most of this information on program websites, but many students benefit from attending a virtual open house or contacting admissions offices directly.

Prepare for tests and applications

Once you’ve shortlisted schools for this degree, early preparation is critical to a successful application. It’s important to secure transcripts and letters of recommendation well in advance to avoid last-minute stress. Many programs will ask for a personal statement, so you’ll want to give yourself enough time to write a thoughtful reflection on your passion for biology, career goals, and overall fit for the program. Lastly, for schools requiring standardized test scores like the SAT or ACT, enrolling in a test prep program can help boost scores. Graduate students preparing for the GRE will also benefit from similar programs.

Select your program

The arrival of acceptance letters is always exciting, but it can become overwhelming if you receive more than one. To make sure you’re selecting the ideal program, revisit your initial research criteria, focusing on what matters most to you — whether that’s curriculum relevance, faculty credentials, or program structure. This is also an excellent time to assess the total cost of attendance, comparing this with any financial aid offers.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

To finance your degree effectively, prioritize financial aid resources that minimize debt. Start by applying for scholarships and grants, which don’t require repayment. For those open to part-time work, explore work-study programs that provide a steady income while enrolled. If you’re currently employed, ask your employer about tuition reimbursement programs, which can help offset costs.

Federal loans can be considered if any financial needs remain, as they’re often favorable to private loans for their more flexible repayment terms and lower interest rates.

Best 50 Accredited Online Accelerated Biology Programs

Best Online Accelerated Biology Degree Programs_2024 badge
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University of Florida
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Arizona State University
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Florida International University
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Western Governors University
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University of Alaska Fairbanks

How we rank schools

This list features some of the best online accelerated biology programs in the U.S. All are offered at nonprofit, accredited institutions, either public or private, with a high standard of academic quality for postsecondary education.

We evaluated each degree program on admission, retention, and graduation rates as well as tuition costs, faculty, reputation, and student resources. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared our picks to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like U.S. News & World Report, among others, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

What Can You Expect From an Online Accelerated Biology Program?

Students considering an accelerated biology degree program can expect a rigorous and condensed educational path that provides either undergraduate or graduate studies in a time-efficient format.

Undergraduate students will learn foundational biological sciences, exploring topics like genetics, biochemistry, cellular biology, and ecology. Courses are structured to provide a comprehensive understanding of the biological processes and systems that govern life at all levels. Graduate students will see their educational focus shift into more specialized knowledge — with specialization options potentially including molecular biology, environmental biology, or biomedical sciences.

Labs are always critical in biology programs; even programs focusing primarily on online learning may involve some in-person learning components. However, some programs may offer virtual labs, utilizing simulations to provide practical experience without attending in person.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online accelerated biology program

  • Genetics and Genomics: In this course, students delve into the principles of genetic inheritance and the structure, function, and expression of genes. They will learn about modern genetic tech, such as CRISPR and genome sequencing, and their applications in medicine and agriculture. This course often includes lab components that allow students to practice DNA extraction and analysis.
  • Cellular Biology: This course explores the complex processes within cells, including energy transformations, cellular metabolism, and cell communication. Students learn about cellular structures, their functions, and how cells maintain homeostasis. Labs in this course might involve microscopy, staining techniques, and molecular biology experiments to observe cellular interactions and behaviors.
  • Ecology and Environmental Biology: Participants study the relationships between organisms and their environments. The course addresses contemporary environmental challenges such as climate change and habitat destruction. Fieldwork is often a component, offering students practical experience in data collection and ecological research methods.

What Can I Do With an Online Accelerated Biology Degree?

The job outlook for graduates with these degrees is largely positive, with a promising projection of 136,800 job openings over the next decade. The median annual salary for positions in this field is $78,280, notably higher than the national average.

Career outlook

  • Agricultural and Food Scientist — Graduates in this role work to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products. They conduct research and experiments to improve the quality, quantity, and sustainability of food crops and farm animals.
    • Median annual salary: $76,400
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 6%
    • New jobs projected: 3,000
  • Environmental Scientist — Environmental scientists study and assess the impacts of human activity on the environment to develop solutions for environmental problems. They use their knowledge of natural sciences to analyze data, advise on policy, and help create sustainable practices to protect the natural world.
    • Median annual salary: $78,980
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 6%
    • New jobs projected: 6,900
  • Microbiologist — Individuals in this field study microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites to understand their life processes and impact on humans, animals, plants, and the environment. They conduct research to develop medical treatments, ensure food safety, and address environmental issues related to microbial activity.
    • Median annual salary: $85,470
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 5%
    • New jobs projected: 1,700

Online Accelerated Biology Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do accelerated degree programs work?

Accelerated degree programs compress the traditional education timeline, allowing students to complete their degrees faster through intensive courses and overlapping study phases. Ideal for motivated, disciplined students who can handle rigorous academic demands, these programs are often best suited for learners eager to enter the workforce or those who want to pursue advanced studies more quickly. However, they may not be well-suited for those who prefer a more balanced learning pace, requiring the time to absorb material or juggle responsibilities alongside their studies — like a full-time job or raising a family.

How long does it take to earn an online accelerated biology degree?

An online accelerated biology degree program typically takes two to three years to complete, compared to the four years it often takes in a non-accelerated program. While many bachelor’s degree programs require approximately 120 credits to graduate, some programs may require more or fewer credits, which can cause duration timelines to fluctuate.

How much does an online accelerated biology degree cost?

The cost of an online accelerated biology degree varies, but it’s typically aligned with the average costs for in-person bachelor’s and master’s degrees — averaging $26,903 and $19,749, respectively. However, the accelerated nature and the specific institution can cause fluctuations.

Online students should also budget for additional expenses like technology upgrades, software subscriptions, fees, and possible course materials, all essential for completing the program remotely.

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