What Types Of Biology Degrees Are There?

"My whole life, I’ve always really been interested in animals. I love going to the zoo and I love going to the aquarium even more. I think I’d like to become either a zoologist or a marine biologist. Since I am going to be starting college this year, that means it’s time to start narrowing down my school search. I was wondering, how do biology majors work? Do I just major in biology, or do I have to find a school that specifically offers zoology or marine biology? How many different types of biology degrees are there?"

asked by Lois from Sacramento, CA

That’s great that you already have some idea what you would like to do with your professional life. There are a number of different types of biology degrees out there at the bachelor’s level as well as at higher degree levels. Not every type of biology specialization is commonly pursued at the bachelor’s degree level. For example, you are unlikely to find a bachelor’s degree in marine biology, but that is a common master’s degree. Here are the options you will most likely come across while you are searching for a college for biology:


This is the most general major out there, and many schools will only offer this major at the undergraduate level, so that may very well be what you end up doing to get started. It does make a great stepping stone to a higher degree program which has more specificity.

Marine biology

The study of sea life, marine biology is usually a graduate program, and even when it isn’t, you may need to continue to graduate school in order to compete for jobs in this field. Marine biology is sometimes a degree on its own, and other times it is a concentration within a more generalized biology major.

Biochemistry or Microbiology

This type of biology degree focuses on life at the cellular level. Microbiologists specifically study bacteria and viruses. To work in a lab in this field, you will need a graduate degree.


This is the field of biology where you study plant life and its role in ecology.


This is the study of animal life and how animals fit into their ecosystems. If you are interested in working at a zoo or other wildlife park, this is a good choice. It’s also a good degree to launch you on the path to a veterinarian career.


If you are interested in the interactions between environmental and physical forces, plants, animals, bacteria, human beings, and more, you may be interested in majoring in ecology.

There really are a lot of different types of biology degrees and many different specializations in this field, so even though you have made your initial choice, there are still a lot of decisions ahead of you. Also note that if you are reading this and are interested in becoming a doctor, biology makes a great Pre-Med major.

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