Should I Get A Master’s Degree In Biology?

Unless you want to get stuck at an entry-level position, getting a master’s degree in biology is highly recommended. This is especially true if you intend to do research and/or work in the academe—two areas where biologists are commonly found. A Master of Science in Biology is a research-based degree which will hone your research skills. It requires a thesis detailing the findings of your original research work before awarding the degree. A master’s degree will also serve as a good preparation if you want to pursue doctoral studies. A PhD is considered a terminal degree in biology and serves as the main educational requirement for those who want to conduct independent research and hold positions in universities.

Now you might wonder why you need to obtain a master’s degree if some schools accept applicants into their PhD programs even with only a bachelor’s degree in biology. While a bachelor’s degree program may give you the fundamental knowledge about biology, a master’s degree will give you the necessary preparation you need to cope with the rigors of a research-intensive doctoral degree. The independent study and research skills as well as the observation and experimentation techniques that you will need for your PhD studies will be developed through the coursework you are required to complete in your master’s degree program.

Another reason to pursue a master’s degree in biology is that it paves the way for higher-paying positions in their workplace. Whether they work for state governments—which happen to be the largest employer for zoologists and wildlife biologists— or companies involved in research and development, a position of higher responsibility and consequently, higher pay, will require a postgraduate degree.

If you’re passionate about biology, another reason to pursue a master’s degree is that it allows you to deepen your knowledge about the area in biology where you want to focus in. Biology is a vast field. You can focus on zoology, ecology, marine biology, cell biology and research, wildlife management, herpetology or ornithology, among others. Your research will bring you to different sources of information both in the field and in related literature that will widen your knowledge in your area of interest. The experiments you do will also provide you with new insight about the field you want to focus in.

Perhaps one of the more noble reasons to pursue further studies in biology is the desire to contribute fresh knowledge to biology. There is still a lot to learn about the different kinds of living organisms that populate the earth. Even areas where a lot of research has already been published will still yield new insights if the researcher looks hard enough.

With all the advantages that a master’s degree in biology offers, there really is no reason not to pursue it except for the additional expense that it may entail. However, there are ways to avoid having to spend a lot of money for your postgraduate degree. The first thing to do is to look for a program that would provide scholarships or teaching fellowships that will not only substantially reduce the cost of your tuition but will provide you with a stipend that will help pay for your expenses while you’re working towards your degree.

Career Spotlight: Biologist

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