Updated December 5, 2022

By Iris Stone A biology degree is one of the most versatile degrees you can get in undergrad. Biology students have the flexibility to become teachers, researchers, or conservationists, to go to graduate school, or to enter into a number of pre-professional programs, from medicine to pharmacy. Ranking Methodology In our ranking of the best ...

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By Iris Stone

A biology degree is one of the most versatile degrees you can get in undergrad. Biology students have the flexibility to become teachers, researchers, or conservationists, to go to graduate school, or to enter into a number of pre-professional programs, from medicine to pharmacy.

Ranking Methodology

In our ranking of the best value small colleges for a biology degree, we turned to College Navigator, a website run by the National Center for Education Statistics. We used the data on the website to determine the 50 schools that:

- Offer a degree in biology or the biological sciences
- Admit 50% or fewer of their applicants
- Retain of a student body of 3,000 people or fewer
- Have a low net price*

*Net price is a value that provides more insight than simple tuition rates. While its considers a school's in-state and out-of-state tuition rates, it also factors in the average financial aid package that students at the school receive, as well as other potential expenses.

Bringing these four qualities together enabled us to develop a list of the "best value" small college biology degrees, i.e. the ones that fall into the overlap in a Venn Diagram of quality and affordability. Each of the 50 schools below have something unique to offer, but they all unite in the desire to provide a high caliber curriculum for a lower than average cost.

#1 Berea College Berea, KY
#2 University of Arkansas Pine Bluff Pine Bluff, AR
#3 West Virginia State University Institute, WV
#4 Southern University at New Orleans New Orleans, LA
#5 Rust College Holly Springs, MS
#6 Texas A&M University Texarkana Texarkana, TX
#7 Coppin State University Baltimore, MD
#8 Mississippi University for Women Columbus, MS
#9 Mississippi Valley State University Itta Bena, MS
#10 Dickinson State University Dickinson, ND

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

  1. Berea College

    Berea, KY



    Unlike many of the other small colleges mentioned above, Berea does not include science education as a main component of its biology department. While this may not be the best news for future teachers, it means that students interested in pure science have even more options! Specifically, BC divides its department into three tracks: Field and Organismal Biology; Molecular, Cellular, and Systems Biology; and General Biology. Berea also works to identify highly qualified students and present them with extra opportunities, including working as lab and teaching assistants, pursuing independent study, participating in faculty-led research. This means that, while Berea's net price already makes it the most affordable biology degree on this list, its relevant on-campus jobs could help you simultaneously earn extra cash and skills to support your future goals.

  2. University of Arkansas Pine Bluff

    Pine Bluff, AR



    Biology degree students at this smaller, regional campus of the University of Arkansas have two main options: Non-Teaching and Science Education (Earth Life Science). The curriculum achieves an ideal balance between foundational and in-depth topics and will adequately prepare you for a range of career options. But it's Pine Bluff's extracurricular options that really distinguish it. For example, the STEM Academy is one of the college's premiere programs, focusing on initiatives that cover everything from student networking to study groups to research ventures. UAPB also hosts an annual Science Fair and participates in supportive programs for minority students.

  3. West Virginia State University

    Institute, WV



    For a small college, West Virginia State University stands out in a big way. The biology department alone has over 200 students - that's almost 10% of the entire student body! Add 13 full-time faculty members to the mix, and it's easy to see why WVSU is such a powerhouse in small college biology degree programs. The university provides three options for undergraduates: Environmental and Organismal Biology, Biotechnology and Genetics, or Pre-Medical and Biomedical Sciences. Furthermore, students can opt for a minor or continue at the university to pursue a graduate degree in Biotechnology. And don't worry if your schedule is somewhat atypical - the department offers a "night course rotation" for adults and parents.

  4. Southern University at New Orleans

    New Orleans, LA



    Southern University at New Orleans doesn't just accept students into its small college biology program; it actively recruits them as a part of the school's commitment to STEM education. SUNO also demands (as it should!) that students perform well in order to receive a diploma - biology department members must maintain at least a 2.5 GPA and retake courses in which they earned below a C. Furthermore, the department won't simply let students retake courses as many times as they need to, so make sure that you enroll at SUNO with a serious academic attitude!

  5. Rust College

    Holly Springs, MS



    One aspect of a top biology degree program that many students ignore is the importance of other scientific topics. Regardless of your career choice, as a biology student you will probably also need to understand elements of physics, psychology, chemistry, computer science, and mathematics. At Rust, you will get your fill of all these topics, including Calculus, Probability and Statistics, Physics, and General Psychology. Rust College is also in the minority of small colleges, as it includes a Biology Internship on its list of core requirements for life science students. But perhaps the shining light at RC is its McNair Scholars Program, which supports first-generation, low-income college students through financial stipends, personalized advising, and the chance to spend a summer conducting research at the University of Mississippi.

  6. Texas A&M University Texarkana

    Texarkana, TX



    Texas A&M University at Texarcana features one of the more comprehensive cheap biology degree departments you could choose. From biology and chemistry to environmental science and pre-health, Texarcana's programs intertwine in a way that helps you get the best of all possible worlds. For example, after you complete all the foundational courses, you can dabble in topics like Global Change, Endangered Ecosystems, Evolutionary Biology, Biotechnology, and Forensic Science. Seminars, "Special Topics," Independent Study, and even a one-of-a-kind course in "Darwin and the Origin of Species" guarantee that your experience at TAMUT will be truly unique.

  7. Coppin State University

    Baltimore, MD



    In some ways, Coppin State University's accredited biology degree has a structure quite similar to the other small colleges on this list. Both biology, teacher education, and minor options are available within the life sciences program. But CSU goes one step further by developing an additional major in General Science: Biology. The purpose of this option is to provide a tailored curriculum for students who need the foundations of biology but don't plan to pursue jobs in education or research. These students typically attend graduate programs in physical therapy, physician assisting, or occupational therapy instead. On the other hand, if you're thinking about becoming a dentist or pharmacist, the General Science: Chemistry program would be a better fit.

  8. Mississippi University for Women

    Columbus, MS



    The Department of Mathematics and Sciences offers a group of degree programs that will appeal to the science-minded, including mathematics, pre-professional tracks, and biology. The biology program in particular is further divided into general and teacher tracks that cater to students' anticipated career preferences. All students take the same basic set of courses, but the teacher track incorporates a variety of additional "professional education" classes in Communication, Human Growth and Development, Reading, and others. General track students may be more interested in undergraduate research, and they can even earn a stipend for their time and for travel to professional conferences!

  9. Mississippi Valley State University

    Itta Bena, MS



    At Mississippi Valley State University, you'll start this affordable biology degree program with the basics: Zoology, Botany, Anatomy, Physiology, and the like. Scattered amongst your first few years are Seminar courses, which give you a vehicle to discuss relevant scientific research and stay up-to-date on current events in the field. Classwork in scientific techniques, research methodology, and independent study options will help fill in the cracks that some other schools miss. MVSU also has plenty of complementary programs to help occupy students' time, from pre-professional organizations in medicine, dentistry, and allied health, to a minority research support program that encourages activity specifically in the biomedical sciences.

  10. Dickinson State University

    Dickinson, ND



    At Dickinson State University, you'll have access to all the basic classes typically encased in a cheap biology degree. But just because DSU is low cost doesn't mean it stops with the bare essentials. Students at this small college can study Zoology, Biometry, Animal Physiology, Evolution, Parasitology, and Epidemiology alongside Physics and Organic Chemistry. A sophomore seminar course and a class on "Scientific Writings and Readings" add to the uniqueness of the program and help set Dickinson State apart from its competitors. And if biology isn't your only interest, you can pick it as a minor or combine it with coursework in education to broaden your career choices.

College Navigator

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Iris Stone began her writing career when she started working as a freelance writer and researcher in 2011. Her freelance business soon took off and she now owns and operates a writing and editing firm that works with clients all across the country. Despite the time it takes to run a business she still does much of the writing herself, and her work has included a variety of content related to education policy, colleges and universities, academic programs, and graduates' careers. Her interests actually span far beyond writing, and she is currently studying to be a physicist! Check out her Google+ Profile.

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