What are the best universities to study Biology?

Posted 13 days ago

On the 12th of February two-hundred and eleven years ago, the great Charles Darwin was born. Today we celebrate this day as ‘Darwin Day’, remembering the biologist’s foundational theories for evolution and the origins of mankind known as ‘Darwinism’.

From his accounts of voyages to the Galapagos between 1831-1836, to his publication ‘On the Origin of Species’ in 1859, his ideas on natural selection and selective breeding are now widely taught and idolised by science, despite at the time being controversial and considered radical by many of his peers.

To celebrate Charles Darwin, the theory of evolution, and biology, let's check out the QS-ranked top-rated places to study biological sciences.

8. Yale

Yale is first on our list of top biological science universities, but the programs that teach this subject matter span a diverse number of schools and departments.

While all programs are revered, Yale has several speciality areas of study and research, in particular statistical macroecology, evolutionary studies and biodiversity in local ecosystems. Yale’s biology study also has a focus on the genetics of prokaryotes, eukaryotes, and viruses within the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry.

The university’s entire science programs seem to also distinguish themselves through a cross-disciplinary approach, encouraging students, faculty and researchers from all schools to collaborate, aided by their new Yale Science Building.

7. ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is the only top-8 ranked biological sciences school outside of the US and UK, and now the highest ranked option to study in the EU.

The course structure sees students specialise their study in their second year, with choices ranging from elective modules in either biodiversity, cellular & molecular biology, or biological chemistry. In their third year students are free to study a variety of concept courses and participate in research projects.

The innovative course progression, quality of teaching and resources available to students makes this Swiss university a highly attractive option to potential students of the biological sciences.

6. UC Berkeley

Biology is almost certainly one of UC Berkeley’s strengths, especially in the field of molecular and cell biology.

When people think of UC Berkeley and biology, they might also think of the field work opportunities the university offers its biology students within the San Francisco Bay area and South Pacific Islands, which students love!

At the university, biological studies is divided into two, with the separate departments of integrative biology and molecular & cell biology, each offering its own major.

Whether your dream is to uncover the complex dynamics within the worlds most untouched ecosystems, or to discover the next great vaccine to protect humanity, UC Berkeley has you covered.

5. Stanford

At Stanford the already esteemed biology department was recently housed in the new Bass Biology Building, offering state of the art facilities and resources for this generation of biology students and researchers.

As an undergraduate, you can choose to be a biology major as part of the bachelor of science, and within that major you can take tracks in biochemistry, biophysics, computational biology, ecology & evolution, marine biology, microbes & immunity and neurobiology. The tracks and subjects are forward looking in their approach, gearing students toward a variety of career avenues, as well as other studies in graduate science studies including medical, dental or veterinary school.

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4. Oxford

At Oxford, the study of biology has a long tradition. The university was in fact the location of the 1860 British Science Association evolution debate, which was well-publicised and key in the theory’s acceptance of supporters at the time.

These days biology can be studied at Oxford in their bachelor of science in biology and chemistry, physics or maths, and all are highly sought by students globally.

They also have unique resources, such as an in-house museum of natural history, botanic garden, herbarium, and areas of woodland used to study biodiversity.

Additionally, pursuing passions outside of the classroom through clubs and societies are an important part of student life at Oxford, and The Oxford Biological Society is one of the largest and most prestigious of these student societies.

3. Cambridge

Charles Darwin might be proud to see one of his former universities come in third on the list, one place above their UK rival Oxford.

Darwin studied at Cambridge from 1828 to 1831, and it was here where he forged a drive for scientific travels which he would pursue with several of his classmates soon afterwards. Darwin’s legacy is honoured at his former university with statues in both Christ’s College and Shrewsbury Library.

At Cambridge, students can now choose to study biology through medical sciences, life sciences, psychological & behavioural sciences, or veterinary science. University societies and society events are also popular here, and one might be tempted to join the CU Biological Society or CU Plant Sciences Society!

2. MIT

MIT has an outstanding reputation in science and technology, including biological sciences, which sees it rank a close second in this coveted biological study list. The personal and research conducted at MIT has shaped our modern understanding of biology, contributing heavily to the human genome project, and currently featuring 3 Nobel laureates and 4 recipients of the National Medal of Science.

Here you can study a Bachelor of Science in Biology, a B.S in Chemistry and Biology, and a B.S in Computer Science and Molecular Biology.

1. Harvard

Despite the fierce competition, Harvard tops the list of top universities in the world for biological sciences, on account of their leading facilities, resources, and research, which are at the disposal of biology students conducting coursework and personal projects. They also offer once-in-a-lifetime field trips to locations such as Panama, Brazil, and Australia during the summer!

The key concentrations in biology offered by Harvard include chemical & physical biology, regenerative biology, human evolutionary biology, integrative biology, and molecular & cellular biology, all of which can be studied under the bachelor of science program.

Do you want to know what it’s like to follow in the footsteps of great biologists like Darwin and study biology at a top-rated university? Check out our video to see a day in the life of an Oxford biology student.

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