Best Online PhDs Programs in Biology

PhD in biology online programs are a fantastic option for ambitious professionals who want to upscale their education. However, as there are so many accredited schools out there, it’s hard to find a program tailor-made to your preferences. This is why we’ve created a list of the 7 best biology PhD degree programs online in the U.S.

Aside from reviewing these courses, we’ll also explain why they’re worth your while and what to expect upon completion.

The Advantages of Online PhD Programs in Biology

There are lots of reasons why you should get an online D. in biology. Aside from the obvious one, which is progressing in your career, these programs are perfect for working people with busy schedules. They’re also great for international students who want to get an American education without having to relocate abroad.

All in all, here are a few reasons why you should pursue an online doctorate degree in biology:

  • Finishing a PhD course might be exhausting, but it will give you access to much more job opportunities. It’s also perfect for those who want to focus on research work or to start teaching biological subjects at a local university
  • Unlike traditional courses, getting an online doctorate in biology offers much more flexibility. As mentioned, you don’t even have to be physically present to finish the classes. Aside from that, most programs are flexible when scheduling exams and performing other required tasks
  • Finishing online PhD programs in biology is much cheaper than taking the same classes in person. As you’re not required to be on-premises, the school can take on many more students, allowing them to lower the costs in the process
  • Online courses are also much more lenient for the faculty. As they won’t have to worry about so many things, they will have more time for emails and online communication

Getting a PhD in biology online is much better than getting a traditional degree. You would receive the same knowledge during these courses while incurring lower costs. These programs are especially great for working professionals who have too much on their plate as it is.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Online Biology PhD Program

Choosing the right online PhD in molecular biology is tricky. The educational industry has grown significantly in the last few decades, partially because there are so many entrepreneurs starting their private schools. Separating the wheat from the chaff is a tricky thing, especially if you don’t know what to look for.

To help you out, we’ve listed the main factors you need to consider before choosing one of these courses:

  • Look for programs that have institutional and, if possible, programmatic accreditation
  • Old, reputable schools are always a better choice than the new universities that have been around for just a decade or two
  • Always focus on graduates’ employment rates. In the end, you need to find a program that will give you real-world opportunities upon completion
  • Keep in mind that your current area of expertise doesn’t have to affect your course choice. For example, you can go with a PhD online in cell biology even if your master’s focused on some other field
  • Make sure that the faculty staff consists of top-tier theoretical and practical experts
  • As for online programs, it’s best to choose the ones that give you more flexibility. Look for courses that have longer time-to-finish periods and that have flexible scheduling
  • Lastly, you should also consider financial factors like price, financial aid, and cost-for-value

For the most part, choosing between online biology PhD programs is similar to choosing a bachelor’s or master’s. Always look for accredited, reputable institutions that can propel your career and ensure a future dream placement.

General Components of Online PhD Biology Programs

While online PhD in biology programs might vary in terms of activities, course hours, and timelines, they generally have a similar structure. Here are some of the most common components of an online program:

  • Finishing various courses based on a specific number of credits
  • Performing research and collecting results
  • Having supervised sessions
  • Performing midway evaluations
  • Writing and defending a thesis

Unlike bachelor’s and master’s studies, PhD programs are much more focused on research. While you’ll still have traditional core and elected courses, it’s much more important to yield solid research results.

Overview of Specializations

Here’s a breakdown of the most common biology specializations:

  • General biology
  • Botany
  • Zoology
  • Marine biology
  • Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • Genetics
  • Cell biology
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Neuroscience
  • Immunology
  • Development biology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Parasitology
  • Molecular genetics
  • Entomology
  • Environmental science
  • Plant physiology
  • Conservation biology
  • Pathology

As you can see, the field is very diverse, giving students a lot of interesting options. Of course, your choice of studies will vary based on an institution.

7 Best Online PhDs Programs in Biology

Here’s a breakdown of the most popular biology PhD programs you can find online:

1. University of Florida (Anatomical Science Education)

The University of Florida is among the best, most reputable educational institutions in the U.S. Initially established in 1853, it moved its campus to Gainesville in 1906 and is now the third most-populated university in the state. While the school has a relatively low acceptance rate of 30%, almost all graduates will finish the courses (88% graduation rate).

If you’re interested in a biology PhD, the university offers you a degree in Anatomical Science Education. Students have to finish 90 hours of credits to graduate, going through subjects like essential human anatomy, medical cell biology, and medical histology.

As in other PhD programs, you’re required to write and defend your thesis for full completion. You can choose from a wide array of medical topics, which would ideally combine several fields of research. This institution has received its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

2. Harvard University (Doctor of Public Health)

Currently ranked the 2nd best university in the country, Harvard is one of those institutions that need no introduction. Given that this school was founded in 1636, it is one of the oldest such organizations in the country. Despite its popularity, Harvard “only” has 21,600 students, taught by approximately 2,400 staff members.

As for this particular program, it is more of a hybrid course held at T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Upon finishing, you should get an incredible multidisciplinary degree that combines innovative thinking, leadership, management, and communication skills with public health education.

The program is geared toward experts who have been working in the public health field for at least 6 years. Aside from traditional academic skills and knowledge, you’ll also gain access to experimental methodologies. The graduates are supposed to drive societal changes and introduce full-scale improvements to the existing medical systems.

3. University of South Dakota (Ph.D. in Biology Sciences)

The University of South Dakota is the only institution in the state that offers online Doctor of Biology degrees. As one of the oldest institutions in the region, the school has been around since 1862, making it 27 years older than the state itself. Right now, the institution counts almost 10,000 students, out of which 2,500 are postgraduates.

The great news is that the institution offers several specializations in biology sciences, including conservative biology, integrative biology, and neurosciences. During the course, a student has to complete 60 credit hours, with 24 to 40 hours allocated to dissertation research. To get a degree, attendees must be at a 700+ level for 50% of the study program.

Depending on your specialization, you’ll have a certain number of optional credit hours. For example, conservative biology carries 15 credit hours, integrative biology has 16 credit hours, and neuroscience has 15. Aside from having a related degree, you also need a statement of purpose and a letter of recommendation to enroll.

4. Nova Southeastern University (Ph.D. in Oceanography/Marine Biology)

When talking about online doctoral degree programs, it’s hard not to mention Nova Southeastern University. This school features 16 different courses ranging from criminal science to cybersecurity and, naturally, biology. While the organization is relatively new compared to its peers, established in 1964, the quality of education is definitely worth your while.

If you’re interested in marine biology, this school should be one of your top choices. As one of the students, you’ll have full access to their Center for Collaborative Research, which is among the top research facilities in the country. Right now, there are more than 200 projects being held on premises, analyzing phenomena like coral reef deterioration.

During the course, you’re required to obtain 76 credits, out of which 42 are upper-level coursework. The great thing about online students is that you can choose three rolling terms in May, January, or August. Lastly, it’s worth noting that the university features a massive library with 17,000 publications that will make your studies much easier (if you’re close to the campus).

5. Texas Tech University (Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction)

Situated in Lubbock, Texas, this organization recently celebrated 100 years of existence. With more than 40,000 students, Texas Tech is ranked 6th most populated university in the state. New students can choose between 13 colleges and 150 courses, many of which are in the biology field.

An interesting thing about the institution is that 25% of its students are of Hispanic descent, which classifies the school as a Hispanic-serving institution. As for this online Ph.D. program, it has a track in STEM Education, making it perfect for students who want to teach in elementary and middle schools and colleges.

To get a degree, you’ll need 63 credit hours. You’ll also need official GRE scores that are at the latest 5 years old and a master’s degree in the educational field. After finishing the course, you should have a better understanding of current methodological approaches and STEM challenges.

6. George Mason University (Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology)

George Mason University was founded in 1949 and is one of the biggest public universities in the state and wider region. The establishment is located in Fairfax County, Virginia, and is classified as “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity.” In other words, it’s a perfect destination for all those who wish to hone their skills and progress in the world of academia.

Given that this is an interdisciplinary course, anyone with a chemistry, computer science, or biology degree can apply for it. Besides the fact that the university has its own research premises, students can also benefit by going to nearby FDA, USDA, NIH, and FBI facilities.

You can finish the entire program online without ever showing yourself on campus, making it perfect for working people. To finish the program, you’ll need to complete 72 credit hours, out of which 13 core courses, 23 to 35 elective courses, and 12 to 24 research courses. Some of the core courses include research ethics, protein structure analysis, and numerical methods for bioinformatics.

7. Texas A&M University (Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences)

An interesting thing about Texas A&M is that this was the first higher education organization in the state. It was founded back in 1876, and since 2021, it boasts the largest student body in the country. Right now, the university has about 73,000 students (10,000 postgraduates) being taught by 11,000 staff members.

The institution received its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, making it a safe choice for online students. As for its biomedical Ph.D. program, it consists of 4 tracks, including infection, immunity, and epidemiology, physiology and developmental biology, biomedical genomics and bioinformatics, and diagnostics and therapeutics.

The program has 64 semester credit hours (if you have a master’s or professional degree) or 96 credit hours. Most students will manage to finish the course in 12 to 15 semesters.


Any of these seven programs would be a good choice. Most students focus on institutions that provide their preferred specialization, while others choose a university based on its reputation. Whatever the case, we hope that our short guide will help you make the right decision for your future!