The first step in preparing for a career is discovering what careers are available and what preparation is expected.
The following sections include links to websites to give you a sample of the variety available to you as a prospective biology graduate.
Biology-Related Careers: General
Biology-Related Careers Based on Courses That You Truly Loved
Biology-Related Careers: Familiar Professions
Biology-Related Careers: Not-so-familiar Professions and New Horizons
Also, see our Alumni Corner where alumni describe what they do in their current positions and career paths.
The second step is taking courses that prepare you for those careers.
- Select classes according to the subject matter in which you are thinking of specializing.
- Acquire specialized skills in the laboratory or in the field.
- Gain experience by carrying out a research project. Many of our upper-level laboratory courses offer such opportunities. In addition, you can get research experience through independent study (BIOL 497) or through appropriate internships (some may qualify for BIOL 495 credit).
- Take courses that give you practice in library research, writing and giving talks. Several laboratory courses and seminars (BIOL 480) are suitable.
- Select other science courses according to your major goals, ex. Physics I and II.
- Select humanities and social science courses, or even courses from the Watson School, the School of Management or Human Development, as needed. You can use many of these to fulfill General Education or Harpur College requirements or the requirement for 126 credits toward graduation.
The third step is preparing your resume and other application materials.
The Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development offers assistance in writing resumes and cover letters, and will also help with applications
by compiling a file of your credentials. For specific help that requires knowledge
of biology, ask a faculty advisor or a faculty member who is writing a letter of recommendation
or serving as a reference.
When applying to graduate programs in biology and related field, students should generally adhere to the following protocol:
- Become familiar with the range of graduate programs and the degree-offering institutions. Most of the 300-level courses that we offer at the undergraduate level are actually graduate-level specializations at medical or agricultural schools. Flyers about many graduate programs are on the bulletin boards in Science 3 as you enter the building from the direction of the Science Library.
- Take the courses that best relate to the subject area in which you might want to specialize. Take laboratory courses, or courses with lab components, since most graduate work in biology puts the emphasis on research in laboratory or field settings.
- Get research experience either through Independent Study (BIOL 497) or through internships working in research at other institutions.
- Plan on taking the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) offered by the Educational Testing Service. The standard exam includes verbal, quantitative and analytical writing sections and is required by most programs. Some programs require one or more subject test. Biology majors often select between the ones in Biology, Biochemistry, and Cell and Molecular Biology. The summer between junior and senior year would be an ideal time to take this test. If you need a better score, you will still have time to take it again. Most graduate school applications are due in December or January. Having your scores by that time will help you to decide which programs to apply to.
- Go to the Graduate Fair held each Fall by the Career Development Center. The Department also holds information sessions. Watch for announcements on the biomaj listserv.
- Work out your 4-year course plan so that you will have a light Spring semester in your senior year. Graduate programs usually extend offers to interview students, and often offer to cover students' expenses. These are scheduled a few times during the Spring and usually require travel on Thursday afternoons, returning on Saturday afternoons.
- Inform your parents/guardians that most Ph.D. programs in biology support their students with full tuition and a stipend that can pay for most, if not all, expenses. On the flip side, plan on four to six years of graduate school.
Consult the following for pointers: National Academy of Sciences’ “Careers in Science and Engineering: A Student Planning Guide to Grad School and Beyond.”
There are advisors in the Harpur College Academic Advising office who offer specialized assistance with regard to career options in law and the health professions.
American Institute of Biological Sciences: Careers in the Biological Sciences
Careers in Biology (Emporia State University)
Careers/Professions for the Biology Graduate (Henry Ford Community College)
Science Career Magazine Back To Top
American Chemical Society: Careers
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: “Unlocking Life’s Secrets: Career Opportunities in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology”
Biochemical Society (U.K)
Botany and other Plant Sciences
Marine Biology / Oceanography
Combined Degree Program for the B.A. in Biology with the M.A.T. in Biology (Binghamton University)
One way to pursue a career teaching middle and high school is via a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T), an advanced degree designed for holders of a bachelor's degree. At this university, it requires three semesters beyond the bachelor's degree.
Find out if you would be happy with a career in education by doing an internship or volunteer work with GEAR UP (tutoring and mentoring services to help at-risk Binghamton 7th-9th graders get into college).
New York State Education Department: Office of Teaching Initiatives (Visit Website)
Teach for America (Visit Website)
Education: College or University
A Ph.D. is essential for a career as a faculty member at a 4-year college or university. There may be a few positions at community colleges that require only a Master's degree, but more and more, these are disappearing. If this appeals to you, start with Careers Based on Courses that you Truly Loved.
Education: Informal - Zoos, Museums, Aquariums, Science Centers
Health Professions, General
Health Professions, Specific
See the Pre-Health Professions Advising website
Back To Top
Agricultural and Food Scientists
Bioinformatics / Computational Biology
Use your imagination and connect your science-based education with a career in a business based on science and technology (e.g. pharmaceuticals, health care, biotechnology. etc.)
See Ecology (under Careers Based on Courses that you Truly Loved)
See Agricultural and Food Scientists
See Genetics (under Careers Based on Courses that you Truly Loved)
Law - Patents, Contracts, Environmental Law, Legal Policy, Bioethics, Gene and Paternity Testing, Forensics
See the Pre-Law Advising website
Media Communications/Journalism - Reporting, Writing, Editing, Website Development and Maintenance, Special Events
Military - Biological and Chemical Warfare, Pathogen Identification, Soldier Identification
Pharmacy and Drug Discovery, Drug Manufacture
See Genetics (under Careers Based on Courses that you Truly Loved)