Searching for Specific Graduate Programs in Biology

Decide your field

Get specific about your interests - molecular biology and ecology are completely different fields. Do you want to spend more time in the lab or the field? What specific topics have you encountered in your classes that you would like to investigate more on your own?

Decide your degree

Masters or doctorate? The decision should be informed by your ultimate career goals, and the norms in your particular field.

For some who plan on conducting research or becoming a university professor the doctorate is a given and there is no reason to go for a masters first. For others, particularly in some applied research fields in the biomedical industry, a masters degree can greatly boost salaries in two years or less. Still others with the ultimate goal of a doctorate go for a masters first to broaden their experiences.

Search Databases for programs in your desired field

Most databases are organized by specific subcategories, like neurobiology or marine biology. This is because graduate programs focus on very specific areas of study unlike general undergraduate biology programs. Harvard may have a fantastic program in Cell Biology, but a lousy program (or none at all) in Marine Biology or Biomedical Engineering.

You may need to check numerous related subcategories to make sure you are finding all the available programs in your field of interest. For example, someone interested in neurobiology may need to search for "neuroscience" as well, and someone interested in marine biology may need to search for "biological oceanography" or "marine sciences" as well.

Databases often allow you to start searches based on geographical regions - just be sure this is not narrowing your search too much or at least be aware of the limitations.

Most databases do not turn out results in order of prestige or excellence of the program. To get a better idea of the rankings, check U.S. News and World Report, or better yet, talk to a professor in your field of interest.

We have linked to these two databases because we found them to be the most complete on the web, however, even these are not 100% complete for every subfield:

If you are having trouble getting started, you might check out the bulletin boards in McCreary where we have brochures and flyers posted from specific graduate programs. Or talk with your faculty advisor, or with Dr. Kittelberger, who maintains this portion of the Biology Department website.