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General Biology

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General Biology Major

95,223 yearly degrees
#10 in popularity
$89,000 median salary

General biology is a major that typically falls into the Biological & Biomedical Sciences category.

There are 321 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in biology, 1,492 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 481 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 221 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a Biology Degree?

This is one of the most frequently chosen college majors. It is the 4th most popular in the country with 81,100 students graduating with a bachelor’s in biology in 2017. The major attracts more women than men. About 63.8% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial Distribution

At the countrywide level, the racial distribution of biology majors is as follows:

  • Asian: 13.3%
  • Black or African American: 9.1%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 15%
  • White: 53%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 2.7%
  • Other Races: 6.9%
General Biology Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in biology. About 2.7% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending biology majors to the U.S. are China, India and South Korea.

What Will You Learn as a General Biology Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to biology to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Biology Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

Important Knowledge Areas for General Biology Majors

Skills for Biology Majors

When studying biology, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

Important Skills for General Biology Majors

Abilities for Biology Majors

A major in biology will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

Important Abilities for biology Majors

What Can You Do With a Biology Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with biology:

Careers Related to General Biology
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Life Scientists



Natural Sciences Managers



Clinical Research Coordinators



Water Resource Specialists



Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education



Biological Science Professors



Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists



Molecular and Cellular Biologists



General Biology Major Salary

Average salaries range from $84,000 to $97,000 for careers related to biology. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a Biology Major  ( 84000 to 97000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

The area of the country you choose to work in will also affect your career and salary prospects. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for General Biology Major Jobs

Some careers associated with biology require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much education do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to biology have obtained the following education levels.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With General Biology
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online General Biology Programs

There are 1,492 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in general biology, with 13 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Getting your degree online is not easy and includes watching and listening to hours of lectures, participating in group charts, submitting papers by the appropriate deadline and taking tests. Some online programs will also feature internships or in-person clinical hours.

Is a General Biology Major Worth It?

The median salary for a biology grad is $89,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 129% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,005,000 after 20 years!

general biology salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: Janderk via License

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