Biology majors learn about the structure, function and evolution of a variety of living things, such as human beings, animals, plants, organisms, even bacteria and viruses. This major encompasses some of the most noteworthy and conflicted issues of modern time – like global warming, cancer, stem cell use and research, obesity, and even genetic engineering.

In addition, there are nine categories of Biology, including biochemistry, botany, cellular biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, genetics, molecular biology, physiology and zoology – and many, many more subcategories.

What Kind of Career Can I Have?

Biology offers a wide variety of career options upon graduation. Biology students work in many different industries, and very often continue their education by attending medical schools. Due to ever growing concerns about healthcare, genetics and immunology/virology, the employment outlook for Biology majors is on the rise. Salaries range greatly depending on the industry, level of education and training.

Average Salary & Careers for Biology Degrees (Payscale, Inc., 2015)

Research Scientist $74,964
Quality Assurance Manager $70,453
Laboratory Manager $64,537
Research Associate $47,279
Clinical Research Associate $59,341
High School Biology Teacher $45,048
Environmental Scientist $48,784
Doctor $131,097

According to the United States Department of Labor 2012, employment of medical scientists is projected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022. An increased dependence on pharmaceutical, national health coverage and greater income that allows for more spending on medicine—along with a growing and aging population are all expected to increase demand for medical scientists.

The possibilities increase dramatically if you are interested in international travel and work abroad. Depending on your college of choice, international study programs are available on almost every continent, and can be short term (2-4 weeks) as well as up to a full year of study. Very often grants are available to pursue international studies as well.

Where Should I Go?

In 2014, USA Today ranked the top five colleges for Biology studies as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of California at San Diego, Tufts University, Stanford University, and Brown University. The average tuition rate for these five schools is $58,200 per year for out-of-state students. With tuition costs skyrocketing, it’s no wonder many students are looking to supplement their tuition costs with scholarships.

Tuition and Fee Waivers

Some schools offer waivers of tuition costs and fees for students meeting specific criteria. For instance, the University of Maine offers a limited number of tuition waivers for International students. In addition, tuition and fees are often waived in full for students entering specific careers upon graduation – most often in public service.

Grants and Fellowships

Grants are often need based gifted monies (you don’t need to repay). They can come from federal or local government, your college of choice or private or nonprofit groups or businesses. There are several organizations that offer grants to biology students specifically, such as The National Science Foundation, the Michelson Grant and The National Institute of Health, among others. Requirements are different for all and some involve an employment obligation for a specified time period upon graduation. It pays to research the grants offered thoroughly, and understand the guidelines and offer completely.

Are Scholarships Really Available?

Scholarships are financial awards for your education that do not need to be repaid. While they are typically awarded based on merit, very often the scholarship committees take financial need into consideration in awarding their recipients. The amount of total financial aid cannot be more than the cost of attendance for your college or university.

Scholarships are typically developed to fit a particular student profile – whether based on academic interest or proficiency, ethnicity, interests or field of study, or they could be related to an affiliation (such as religion, military, club membership, employer, etc.).

Scholarships can help lessen the impact of ever increasing tuition costs. Scholarships help to fill the gap between low-income families and higher-income. Frequently government aid is focused on lower income students, leaving middle or higher-income families struggling with high tuition costs. Scholarships can help reduce the responsibility significantly. And for students paying their own way through school, it means less time spent working while trying to finish your degree.

Here Are Some Scholarships for Biology Majors:

Catching the Dream MESBEC Program – Award amount varies. Applicants must be a Native American student in a full-time science program.

Woods Hole Undergraduate Fellowships for Minorities – Award amount varies. Applicants must be students enrolled in full-time marine biology programs.

Ronald McDonald House Charities and the College Fund/UNCF Health and Medical Scholars Program – Awards the scholarship recipient’s full tuition. Applicants must be students enrolled in health or medical fields.

ACIL Academic Scholarships – Awards scholarships up to $5,000. Applicants must be students enrolled in a science program.

AIAA Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship – Awards up to $2,000 to students pursuing engineering and science majors.

Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship – Offers up to $5,000 to students who intend to go into a career in science.

Microbiology Undergraduate Research Fellowship – Offers up to $4,000+ to students in science program interested in pursuing an advanced degree in microbiology.

Mycological Undergraduate Research Award – Awards up to $1,000 to students conducting undergraduate research.

National Candy Technologists Scholarship – Awards up to $5,000 to undergraduates in science program with an interest in confectionary science.

SMART Scholarship for Service (DoD) – Covers a scholarship recipient’s tuition. Available to students pursuing degrees in STEM fields.

Search and Apply for Scholarships on helps students and parents search and apply for scholarships, grants, awards and other financial aid options to help pay for college. Whether you are a high school senior starting college or a single mom going back to school, you can find money for college through