Top 10 universities for biology

Top 10 universities for Biology

A biology major gives you an in-depth understanding and an insight of the natural world. It also helps you learn how to conduct research, problem solve, organize, and think critically. You’ll find that graduating with a biology degree opens the door to many exciting job opportunities such as medicine or biochemistry for instance. To help you find the right schools and make the most prospective decision, we have shortlisted the top 10 universities for biology/bioscience around the world and what they require for admissions. 

Some of the common requirements are:

  • For IB students, all colleges require you to take up Biology HL along with Chemistry preferably at a Higher Level. As for the 3rd HL, you can take up physics or math if you’d like but it is not mandatory. My advice would be to choose the subjects you’re good at and where you think you can score well. 
  • Next, all colleges will require you to submit letters of recommendation. However, the number of letters may vary according to the university. But, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered there. Keep reading to know more. 

#1: Harvard University

In Harvard, students will have the opportunity to investigate many of the questions central to modern biology and medicine through coursework and hands-on research. That’s why it comes first on the list of top universities for biology. Hard graduates can understand and evaluate the impact of new research discoveries in the life sciences as they unfold at a breathtaking and accelerating pace.  

Here are their requirements:

  • Harvard requires a minimum of 40 IB points. 
  • Harvard requires two letters of recommendation from teachers and one from your school counselor.
  • Harvard will allow students to apply for admission without requiring SAT or ACT (standardized test) scores for the upcoming Harvard College Classes of ‘27, ‘28, ‘29, and ’30. 

Harvard University is affiliated with 19 hospitals and health-focused research institutes in the Boston area, per its website, creating many opportunities for student research in life science fields.

Below are the recommended scores for the standardized tests:

Test Recommended Score Minimum in each section
TOEFL 104 26
IELTS 7.5 7.5
SAT 1580
ACT 35

#2: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT is a collaborative, inclusive, supportive, and focused community dedicated to research, teaching, and service. They explore a wide range of fundamental biological questions with a focus on molecular cell biology at all levels, from molecular structure to human disease.

Here are their requirements:

  • MIT requires 2 letters of recommendations. One recommendation should be from a math or science teacher, and one should be from a humanities, social science, or language teacher, although this is not a hard requirement.
  • The MIT applications also require you to write multiple short essays in order to get to know you. This is not a writing contest, therefore, be authentic, open and honest.
  • MIT has also updated their requirements for the admission cycles – they require the SAT or the ACT for both prospective first year and transfer students. Read more about how we came to this decision. However, they do not require the ACT writing section or the SAT optional essay. 
  • MIT requires you to have a grade of 6 or 7 for IB Biology HL. Overall, they require you to get a minimum grade of 39 to stand a chance.

Three members of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s biology department faculty are recipients of the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, according to the university’s website. Therefore, it is definitely one of the top universities for biology and you can expect nothing less than the best of the best at MIT! 

Below are the recommended scores for the standardized tests:

Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 90 104
IELTS 7 7.5
SAT 1500 1580
ACT 34 36

#3: Stanford University

The undergraduate major in Biology can serve as a stepping-stone for a wide variety of career opportunities. For students planning to attend medical, dental, or veterinary school, or graduate school in biological and applied sciences, the biology major provides a strong foundation in the basic life sciences. This foundation of knowledge, plus laboratory experience, also prepares students well for research and technical positions in universities, government, and industry. Students will begin taking these courses, exploratory lab courses, and a selection of additional breadth courses in Chemistry, Math, Physics, and Statistics during their first two years. If students are willing to get in one of the top universities for biology, then Stanford University is a must checkout for them.

Here are their requirements:

  • Stanford requires 2 letters of recommendations from 2 teachers and an additional letter from the college counselor. They also expect a personal statement or multiple essays or both.
  • Stanford recommends you pursue a reasonably challenging curriculum, choosing courses from among the most demanding available at your school. 
  • Stanford remains to keep the ACT and SAT test optional due to the ongoing challenges created by the Covid 19 pandemic for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle. 
  • Stanford requires you to have a minimum grade of 5 for IB chemistry and physics. As for Math, if you’ve taken Applications and Interpretations HL, you won’t be receiving credit. You will need a minimum of 6 for IB Math Analysis and Approaches HL.

Below are the recommended scores for the standardized tests:

Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 100 Anything above 100
IELTS 7 Anything above 7
SAT 1520 1550
ACT 31 35

#4: University of California – San Francisco

For globally-minded students, the University of California—San Francisco offers an Institute for Global Health Sciences. The institute conducts scientific research, provides medical treatment, offers public health guidance and develops health policies. USF biology will give you hands-on training that prepares you for careers and graduate programs in field and laboratory biology, biotechnology, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and public health.

Here are their requirements:

  • UCSF does not require a letter of recommendation for admission. You may still submit one if you’d like, but they will consider all applications with or without a letter of recommendation equally.
  • In addition to your personal statement, UCSF looks at your response to their short answer question. Make sure to keep it unique and not from your essay!
  • UCSF looks for students with a strong academic record of college prep. To be considered for admission, you should’ve taken:
    • 4 years of English
    • 3 years of mathematics
    • 3 years of social sciences
    • 2 years of a foreign language
    • 2 years of laboratory science
      • Nursing applicants are required to take chemistry and either physics or biology
  • UCSF remains to keep the ACT and SAT test optional due to the ongoing challenges created by the Covid 19 pandemic for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle. However, note that if you choose not to submit standardized test scores, their admission team will place more weight on your short answer question.
  • UCSF requires students to maintain a minimum IB of 26 in order to stand a good chance to get admission

Below are the recommended scores for the standardized tests:

Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 80
IELTS 7
SAT 1330
ACT 29

#5: University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge not only comes among the top universities for biology but is one of the oldest universities in the world and one of the largest in the United Kingdom. They are known for their outstanding academic achievements worldwide and also reflect the intellectual achievement of its students. The University of Cambridge is renowned for world-class original research carried out by the staff of the University and the Colleges. 

Here are their requirements:

  • Cambridge requires you to submit one or two school/college essays – which may then be discussed at an interview later on. Most applicants are required to take a subject-specific written admission assessment to assess skills, such as writing and language skills, and levels of knowledge and understanding relevant to your course. 
  • University of Cambridge requires you to get a total IB score between 40-42 out of 45 points with 2 7’s and a 6 or 7 for the HL subjects. IB applicants are also expected to take IB Higher Level ‘Analysis and Approaches’ in Mathematics. 

The University of Cambridge’s department of biochemistry is home to more than 50 research groups investigating “how cells and their constituent molecules work in life and relate to disease,” according to the institution’s website. 

Below are the recommended scores for the standardized tests:

Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 100 Anything above 100
IELTS 7 Anything above 7

#6: University of California, Berkeley

UC Berkeley’s Division of Biological Sciences generates profound shifts in their understanding of the function and behavior of living organisms. UC Berkeley offers a wide array of life science majors and tracks within each designed to appeal to the diverse interests and career goals of Berkeley students ranging from the molecular & biochemical to the ecological and medical with everything in between. There are numerous opportunities to engage in original laboratory or field research while a student there.

Here are their requirements:

  • UCB gives you the option of submitting 2 letters of recommendation as it is not fully considered for the application of admission. 
  • UC Berkeley remains to keep the ACT and SAT test optional due to the ongoing challenges created by the Covid 19 pandemic for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle. 
  • UCB requires a minimum IB score of 37 out of 45.  

Below are the recommended scores for the standardized tests:

Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 80 100
IELTS 6.5 7
SAT 1415 1530
ACT 29 34

#7: University of California – San Diego

The undergraduate curriculum in the School of Biological Sciences, UC San Diego emphasizes biological processes and systems examined at molecular, biochemical, cellular, organismal, and ecosystem scales. With a solid foundation of understanding in these areas, future careers and further training in any area of biology is possible, from genetic counseling to biotechnology to epidemiology. The UC San Diego campus is a world-class life science research institution surrounded by others in close vicinity and should be included in your list for universities for biology.

Here are their requirements:

  • UC San Diego is not considering SAT or ACT test scores as a factor in admissions decisions.
  • UCSD requires you to have a minimum grade of 5 for IB chemistry and biology. As for Math, if you’ve taken Applications and Interpretations HL, you won’t be receiving credit. You will need a minimum of 5 for IB Math Analysis and Approaches HL.
  • University of California, San Diego requires students to maintain a minimum IB of 37 in order to stand a good chance to get admission.

Below are the recommended scores for the standardized tests:

Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 83
IELTS 7
SAT 1250 1470
ACT 26 31

#8: University of Oxford

The modular structure of the Oxford Biology course encourages a cross-disciplinary approach. The options system in the second and third years allows students to study either a general background encompassing a comprehensive range of topics, or specialize in detailed aspects of animals, plants, cells or ecology. The course incorporates an optional fourth year, meaning students can either leave after three years with a BA or choose to stay on and complete an extended project and this feature makes the university differ from other universities for biology. 

Here are their requirements:

  • The University of Oxford requires 39 IB points out of 45 – Candidates are required to achieve a 7 in Biology and either Chemistry, Physics or Mathematics in Higher Level. 
  • You do not need to take a written test or submit any written work as part of an application for this course.

Below are the recommended scores for the standardized tests:

Test Recommended Score Minimum in each section
TOEFL 100
IELTS 7

#9: John Hopkins University

The Johns Hopkins Department of Biology offers a rigorous undergraduate program leading to either a BA or a BS degree, as well as a five-year program leading to a combined bachelor’s/master’s degree. The program guides students as they develop a detailed, nuanced view of biology, integrating knowledge at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels.

Here are their requirements:

  • Due to the continued impact of COVID-19 on testing availability and access, Johns Hopkins University is test-optional through the 2025-2026 application year. Students who do not submit test scores are not disadvantaged in our process. I
  • John Hopkins requires an IB score of 37 out of 45 points.   

Below are the recommended scores for the standardized tests:

Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 100
IELTS 7
SAT 1470 1560
ACT 34 36

#10: University of Toronto

An undergraduate biology degree is a stepping stone to many career options, including world-class research, pharmaceutical industry, biotechnology, forensics and more. The biologists at University of Toronto can help you attain these career goals. They offer exciting undergraduate programs in all of the major biological areas with specialization in four main topics: Ecology & Field Biology, Whole Organisms; Genetics & Evolution; Cell, Molecular & Developmental Biology; Physiology & Behavior. And for these reasons, it is one of the universities for biology.

Here are their requirements:

  • University of Toronto remains to keep the ACT and SAT test optional due to the ongoing challenges created by the Covid 19 pandemic for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle. 
  • For IB Mathematics, you can take up Mathematics: Applications and Interpretations HL, Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches SL or Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches HL. 
  • ETH Zurich requires a minimum IB score of 37 out of 45 points. Furthermore, a grade of 4 either in English HL or SL is required for admission.   

Below are the recommended scores for the standardized tests:

Test Minimum Score Recommended Score
TOEFL 100
IELTS 6.5
SAT 1330 1500
ACT 29 34

Also ReadHow to Apply to an U.S University in 2022?

Here are some bonus things that will get you some brownie points on your application!

  • An extracurricular activity that you should consider for a biology undergraduate degree, is the Science Olympiad or the Biology Olympiad. If you manage to score high, it would be a huge bonus on your college applications and would make you stand out. It will also show that you’ve taken an interest in the subject and you’d wanna learn more. Additionally, you could take part in clubs for biology.
  • After finishing Grade 12 you can also volunteer in places that are relevant to your major. For instance, if it is a biology major, you can look into volunteering at an Alzheimer’s Association, Mental Health community, Cancer societies, other Non-governmental Organizations (NGO), etc. 
  • Another way is Job shadowing. Here, you can just volunteer to work in a hospital by following what doctors do in their day-to-day life and understand how the environment of a hospital really functions. Getting a certification from the hospital would really boost your application.
  • You can take up college credit classes before the academic year starts if you’re really interested and you don’t want to waste time! This can help you waive some credits once you begin college.

Anything and everything you do extra, weighs in on your application in one way or another to get you into the top universities for biology. Keep in mind that everything you write in your statement of purpose should show what you’re truly passionate about. Don’t forget to explain your compassion towards everything you’ve done to depict your interest in pursuing a biology major. 

Now that you have the all-in-one guide for anything you need with respect to the top universities for biology, it’s time to get started and work towards your dream university. All the best on your application! 

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