Biology is the place to be to study life and living organisms. While all students of biology start out studying the same basic concepts such as cells, evolution, and ecology, there are many specializations possible in the course of study.
While there are many specializations, here are several you may encounter.
This specialization is usually found in combination with computer science, rather than in the Biology department alone. It combines aspects of both fields, using computer hardware and software to help manage and study the data generated in biological experiments. Sometimes this encompasses large data-sets, such as the Human Genome Project. Courses in a typical B.S. degree include computer science basics such as databases and programming languages, as well as advanced biology courses such as the structure of proteins and genomics.
Botany is the study of plants, in all aspects. This includes the study of fungi and algae, as well as macro and micro-level observations. Nutrition, biochemistry, ecology, genetics, evolution, physiology, anatomy–all areas that can be focused on one category or one type of plant. Typical coursework will include most of these areas, with the general courses introducing the broadest aspects first.
The biology and habitats of free-ranging wild mammals and birds are the interest of wildlife biology. Biological and ecological information directed at sustaining populations of these animals in a changing environment is the focus of this type of program. Students may focus on one animal or one type of animal environment. An example program is the B.S. degree offered by Unity College, offering courses such as North American Wildlife, Wildlife Habitat and Assessment, Comparative Animal Physiology, and Ecosystem Ecology.
Molecular biology is the study of biology at a molecular level. This may require coordinating studies in chemistry and genetics, depending on the specific area of interest. It focuses on the interactions of the various cellular systems, such as those dedicated to DNA and RNA. Typical coursework would include Genetics, Chemistry, Laboratory Techniques, and courses focused on specific pieces of equipment/types of analysis.
Zoology is the study of the animal kingdom, in all details. This includes animal structure, evolution, classification, habitat, reproduction, and more. Even extinct animals can be studied, for example, in the sub-specialty of paleontology. Courses in a typical B.S. program include Invertebrate Zoology, Vertebrate Zoology, Animal Physiology, and Behavioral Ecology.
When considering the different programs available in biology, think about both what you are interested in and what each college offers in that area. Would you prefer to have time to decide on a specialization or to pick one immediately? Consider testimonials from current and former students, as well as what jobs are most common for each specialization.