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General Biology Major

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General Biology

81,409 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
6,131 Master's Degrees Annually
#4 in Popularity
$89,150 Median Salary

Types of Degrees General Biology Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many general biology graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 81,440
Master’s Degree 6,131
Associate’s Degree 5,930
Doctor’s Degree 1,722
Graduate Certificate 321
Basic Certificate 152
Undergraduate Certificate 109

What General Biology Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to biology and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Biology Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in biology should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Skills for Biology Majors

A major in biology prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

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  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Abilities for Biology Majors

As a biology major, you will find yourself needing the following abilities:

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  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

What Can You Do With a General Biology Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with biology:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Biological Science Professors 15.1% $82,550
Clinical Research Coordinators 9.9% $123,860
Life Scientists 9.0% $78,190
Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists 13.4% $84,810
Molecular and Cellular Biologists 8.0% $79,590
Natural Sciences Managers 9.9% $123,860
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 7.5% $60,320
Water Resource Specialists 9.9% $123,860

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in General Biology?

81,440 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
64% Percent Women
42% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is one of the most frequently chosen undergraduate majors. It is the 4th most popular in the country with 81,409 students graduating with a bachelor’s in biology in 2018. The major attracts more women than men. About 64% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

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

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Biology Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 10,814
Black or African American 7,439
Hispanic or Latino 12,202
White 43,175
International Students 2,181
Other Races/Ethnicities 5,629

Geographic Diversity

Biology appeals to people across the globe. About 2.7% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • India
  • South Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Canada

How Much Do General Biology Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in general biology made a median starting salary of $27,600 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $24,900 (25th percentile) and $30,500 (75th percentile).

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We don’t know for sure if all of these people took jobs related to biology so take that into consideration.

Salaries According to BLS

Biology majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $83,600 to $97,340 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a General Biology Major  ( 83600 to 97340 )
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Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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Some careers associated with biology require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for biology careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Less than a High School Diploma 0.5%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 1.1%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 1.2%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 1.6%
Bachelor’s Degree 34.1%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 4.2%
Master’s Degree 20.0%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 0.8%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 0.0%
Doctoral Degree 18.5%
Post-Doctoral Training 18.2%

Online General Biology Programs

In 2017-2018, 1,719 schools offered a biology program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 14 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 12 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 1 0
Associate’s Degree 321 11
Bachelor’s Degree 37 1
Post-Baccalaureate 14 0
Master’s Degree 481 17
Post-Master’s 10 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 221 1
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 0 0

Is a Degree in General Biology Worth It?

The median salary for a biology grad is $89,150 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 123% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $985,000 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to biology.

Major Number of Grads
Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology 14,048
Neurobiology & Neurosciences 8,716
Physiology & Pathology Sciences 8,072
Ecology, Evolution & Systematics Biology 6,799
Cell Biology & Anatomical Sciences 5,493
Microbiological Sciences & Immunology 4,316
Biological & Biomedical Sciences (Other) 3,131
Zoology 3,044
Biotechnology 3,038
Biomathematics & Bioinformatics 2,253
Genetics 1,379
Pharmacology & Toxicology 1,167
Botany/Plant Biology 684
Molecular Medicine 52

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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