Why should I study biology

Biology study - study nature and its living beings

Table of Contents

Why study biology?

As a natural science, biology deals with the living beings and plants of the earth. Biological research provides insights into the structure of nature and helps people to better understand nature and life.

The combination of theoretical course content and practical laboratory work as well as experiments makes a biology degree very varied. The job prospects for biologists are also better than many think.

What study options do I have?

In Germany, you can only study biology at universities. In addition, there is the possibility of taking up courses with a biology focus at universities of applied sciences. With these you do not complete a biology degree, but specialize in certain sub-areas right from the start, such as bioprocess engineering. The following list gives you an example of where you can study biology and which degree you can achieve:

university

You can study biology at numerous German universities. Universities of applied sciences, distance learning universities or private universities do not offer the bachelor's degree in biology. The biology study ends with a Bachelor of Science degree and entitles you to work or to pursue a master’s degree. The special thing about a university course is that in Germany only universities have the right to award doctorates. For biologists, this is of vital importance, as a majority of biologists do the doctorate.

Study abroad

If you want to expand your personal skills in addition to your specialist knowledge, studying biology abroad is a good option. You have several options: Either you complete your entire degree in a foreign country or you do a semester abroad. Many universities offer their students exchange programs. A semester in Sweden is particularly interesting for biology students. The Swedish universities are among the best in the world in the field of biology and produce considerable research results every year.

Am I suitable for studying biology?

If you enjoyed studying physics, chemistry and biology at school, then studying biology may be just the thing for you. In addition to some personal requirements that you should have for studying biology, there are also formal and professional requirements to be observed.

Formal and professional requirements

The basic requirement for studying biology is a high school diploma. At some universities of applied sciences you can take subjects such as biotechnology with a technical college entrance qualification. If you want to study biology, you apply directly to the university of your choice for a place to study. Most universities offer an online procedure for this.

Since biology is one of the most popular subjects for German students, many universities limit the number of admissions with a numerus clausus. In the 2012/2013 winter semester, this was between 1.6 at the Humboldt University in Berlin and 2.5 at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. Sometimes you have to attach a letter of motivation to your application or undergo an aptitude assessment procedure. The universities check your previous scientific knowledge and your suitability for a degree.

personal requirements

If you are interested in how living things, plants and nature work, this is a good prerequisite for studying biology. At the beginning of your studies you should definitely have a solid basic knowledge of physics and chemistry, as your entire biology studies are based on this. You shouldn't shy away from possible animal experiments either. Some universities offer courses in which you do not have to prepare animals, but this is fundamentally part of training to become a biologist. Furthermore, you should be able to speak English, as you have to read numerous English-language specialist literature. Some courses even include English lectures and some master’s programs are taught entirely in English.

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What can I expect from studying biology?

The bachelor's degree in biology comprises 6 semesters. It ends with an experimental bachelor thesis. The biology course combines practice and theory. You not only learn the theoretical basics of biology, but also apply them in practice in laboratory tests and experiments. The Bachelor's degree in Biology concludes with a Bachelor of Science.

Course content

In the first two semesters, studying biology gives you basic knowledge in biology, physics and mathematics. Building on this, the course deals with the basics of botany, zoology, genetics, ecology, microbiology, biochemistry and biotechnology. From the 3rd semester onwards, you can choose additional modules and focus, for example, on the areas of plant sciences, environmental sciences or biotechnology.

The bachelor's degree in biology includes the following courses:

  • mathematics
  • General and inorganic chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • physics
  • Physical chemistry
  • Cell biology
  • Microbiology and biotechnology
  • Biochemistry and genetics
  • Plant physiology
  • Animal physiology
  • Computer and presentation techniques
  • ecology

As a biology student, you spend a lot of time doing experiments in the laboratory. In some cases, the universities expect you to do internships during the semester break in order to train your scientific working methods and to apply what you have theoretically learned in practice. In the laboratory, for example, you will learn how to work sterile, create cell cultures and reproduce genetic material.

Specialization opportunities

From the 3rd semester onwards, you can decide on a focus. However, specialization is only possible to a limited extent in the bachelor’s degree, as teaching the basics takes up a lot of space.

During a master’s degree, you can then specialize in a targeted manner, for example in cell biology, genetic engineering, ecology or bioinformatics. Some universities also offer specialized bachelor's degrees such as marine biology or bionics.

Which degrees can I get?

In the bachelor's degree in biology you will work towards the academic degree of Bachelor of Science. For biologists, a Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree as well as a doctorate to Doctor rerum naturalium (Dr. rer. Nat) is required. almost mandatory in order to gain a foothold in the labor market. A doctorate is the standard qualification for you, especially if you see your future in science and research. In addition, some universities still offer prospective teachers a degree in biology leading to a state examination.

After studying biology

The fields of activity for biologists after studying biology are diverse. For example, you can work in the pharmaceutical industry, in the zoo, for authorities, in nature parks and nature reserves, in a museum or in a botanical garden. A master’s degree and an additional doctorate increase your potential field of work. With it you can go into research or teach as a lecturer at a university.

Which professional fields are suitable for me after graduation?

Most biology graduates work in science and research. This can be at a university, in a botanical garden or at private research institutions. Advisory activities for authorities, offices or environmental protection organizations are also conceivable. Specialized journals offer biologists work opportunities as well as zoological gardens or natural history museums. Typical professions for biologists can also be found in agriculture or environmental biology, in the food industry, in the chemical industry and in biotechnology.

How do you start your career?

During your studies you can make your first professional contacts through industrial internships or a position as a student assistant at your chair. The career entry for graduates of a biology degree differs depending on the degree of the degree. Typically, most biology students do a master's and doctorate after their bachelor's degree.

With a bachelor's degree, you can apply to industrial and commercial companies. However, with a bachelor's degree, you usually only take on preparatory tasks and have neither personnel nor management responsibility. In science and research, the doctorate is a requirement for employment. A doctorate also gives you a higher entry-level position and a better salary in industry. Biologists find their first job in laboratories, for example in the pharmaceutical industry. From here you have the option to become a laboratory manager with personnel responsibility or to management. In research and development, you usually start out as a project employee before leading your own projects.

What career prospects do I have?

In order to have good chances on the job market, you should consistently specialize and expand your profile with additional qualifications such as foreign language skills, stays abroad and internships. Molecular biologists, microbiologists, geneticists and biochemists are currently in great demand. According to a study by the University Information Center (HIS) from 2010, 70% of all biology graduates find a job within one year of graduation.

What salary do i earn?

During the doctoral phase, biologists are usually given a temporary position that is remunerated at an average of € 2,100 gross per month. Basically, it is not just the type of qualification that counts for your starting salary, but also your specialization. Biotechnologists generally make more money than molecular biologists or biochemists. On average, as a biologist, you earn around € 3,600 gross per month at the beginning of your professional life. Career starters with a Master’s degree usually start with a few hundred euros more than Bachelor’s graduates. A doctorate is worthwhile at the start of your career: it will secure you around 25% more starting salary. The lowest starting salaries await you in the service industry. Planning offices, for example, pay career starters around € 2,000 gross monthly wages. You receive top salaries of over € 4,000 gross, especially in large companies, such as the pharmaceutical industry. The wages at universities and research institutes are on average around 30% below those in industry.

Average salary *
Agricultural biologist2.867 €
Marine biologist2.367 €
Molecular biologist3.663 €
Microbiologist3.571 €

*) in gross / monthly