What are the differences between the BS in biological sciences concentrations?

February 08, 2022 · 5 min read · By ASU Online
ASU Online biology majors can choose from several biological sciences concentrations. Learn the difference between each to determine which is right for you.

By earning the Bachelor of Science in biological sciences online at Arizona State University, you can develop a broad understanding of many concepts within the field of biology. This online program uses innovative in-home labs to enable you to learn the curriculum from the same distinguished faculty as on campus.

Graduates can compete for a variety of positions related to biological sciences, and all students can further define their desired professional path through a concentration. There are several biological sciences concentrations to choose from as part of the program, including:

  • Biology and society.
  • Biomedical sciences.
  • Conservation biology and ecology.
  • Genetics, cell and developmental biology.

The concentrations build on the core biological sciences program by diving deeper into specific areas of interest, so it’s important to choose a concentration that aligns with your goals.

How do you know which concentration is right for you? Consider how each concentration builds on the core program and if the possible career paths within each focus area align with your interests.


Biomedical sciences concentration

A biological sciences degree with a biomedical science concentration is the first step for many students who are interested in post-graduate studies. The curriculum aligns with coursework requirements for the MCAT, so graduates can go on to medical school and other graduate school programs related to the health profession.

Potential career options after completing graduate studies, along with their median salaries (per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), include:

Along with biology, you’ll focus on chemistry, physics, statistics, scientific research methods and the use of biomedical concepts in clinical, academic and industrial settings. Additional key topics include the body’s major chemical and biological processes, as well as ethics in medicine.

Featured courses:

  • Animal Physiology.
  • Bioethics.
  • Biomedical Research Ethics.
  • Cell Biology.
  • Neurobiology.


Biology and society concentration

By selecting the biology and society concentration, you can go beyond science itself to learn about historical, philosophical, political and other issues connected to it. These concerns, such as ethics in stem-cell research, can greatly impact the development and use of new applications for biological sciences.

A deep understanding of how society and science influence each other can be especially valuable for professionals in areas like research, education and health. If you want to pursue a career that focuses on communication, learning or advocacy, this biological sciences concentration can support your goals. 

Potential career options, along with their median salaries (per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), include the following (Note: Some of these professions may require additional certifications or graduate studies):

This concentration incorporates a humanities focus on biology. It emphasizes the critical thinking skills needed to understand and address the potential for ethical complexities that can so often come along with scientific discoveries. 

Featured courses:

  • Biology and Society.
  • General Genetics.
  • Evolution.
  • Research in Colloquium in Biology and Society (I and II).


Conservation biology and ecology concentration

If you want to help protect natural resources and address major issues such as climate change or habitat destruction, a conservation biology and ecology concentration can be your path to creating meaningful change. After earning your degree, you could work in a variety of natural and human-made environments. Rivers, wetlands and urban areas are just a few examples. No matter where you go, you’ll work to preserve biodiversity and address negative human influence on the natural environment.

Careers commonly pursued by graduates, along with their median salaries (per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), include:

A career focused on promoting biodiversity and restoring damaged ecosystems requires a strong understanding of the ecological principles that support positive and sustainable change. In this program, you can learn how to investigate and analyze ecological issues and develop practical responses to them. Key topics include animal and plant physiology, behavioral ecology and population biology.

Featured courses:

  • Evolution.
  • Fundamentals of Ecology.
  • Conservation of Biodiversity.
  • General Genetics.


Genetics, cell and developmental biology concentration

If you want to assist in building a better understanding of diseases, regeneration and aging for people across the world, the genetics, cell and developmental biology concentration may be of most interest to you.

This concentration combines three disciplines that investigate what makes living organisms unique and the conditions in which they exist, survive and thrive. Discoveries in these areas can influence and support important developments in medicine, genetics, biotechnology and many related fields. 

As the only genetics, cell and developmental biology concentration currently available online, you can take advantage of this unique opportunity to build a career on the cutting edge of scientific discovery. 

Potential career options, along with their median salaries (per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), include the following (Note: Some of these professions may require additional certifications or graduate studies):

The carefully constructed curriculum of this program empowers you to develop specialized knowledge of genetics and cell function, as well as their remarkable influence on human life.

Featured courses:

  • Animal Physiology.
  • Cell Biology.
  • Developmental Biology.
  • Functional Genomics.


Advanced support and tools for effective learning

As a student in this program, you can count on support from both an academic and pre-health advisor, the latter of which can provide specialized guidance around health-related careers. That includes career-specific guidance and assistance in finding research, internship and community service opportunities related to your professional goals.

And just because you’ll be earning an online degree doesn’t mean you’ll have to miss out on valuable lab learning experiences. ASU’s digital learning platforms enable students to learn the same concepts and procedures as traditional labs. Lab experiences, whether in an online environment or face-to-face, give students the opportunity to interact with materials, use tools, apply data collection techniques and create scientific models.

In the video below, learn about various types of virtual science labs, including digital simulations, lab kits, kitchen labs and video-based labs.

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Choosing the right program for you

Biological sciences is an exceptionally broad discipline, with professionals working everywhere from remote wetlands to doctor’s offices and schools. You can use the specifics we’ve shared about biological sciences concentrations to select the option that best aligns with your areas of professional interest and plans for the future. Our enrollment coaches are also available to help you determine which concentration may be best for you. When you are ready to apply you can follow this step-by-step guide.

Whichever program you choose, throughout your studies you can access a wide variety of support services that take the unique needs of online learners into account.

Gain hands-on research experience through ASU Online’s OURS program

The Online Undergraduate Research Scholars (OURS) program was created to provide hands-on research experiences to online students interested in careers in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.


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