Biology is the study of life, and it is a great option for students interested in learning how and why things work. From a very basic level, Biology majors gain understanding of the functions and diversity amongst living organisms.
Biology is the fastest-growing field of science today. Its impacts are numerous, from medicine and healthcare, to the environment and climate changes, to global population and food sources. For some students, a Biology degree is the first step towards becoming a doctor. Others choose to become research scientists, teachers, lawyers, physicians, dentists - the list goes on and on! However, one thing is for certain: a study abroad experience will have a positive impact on any number of your academic and professional careers!
Photo Credit: NOAA's National Ocean Service.
- Popular Destinations: Anywhere!
General biology is the most common type of biology program abroad. Going overseas will expose you to entirely different concepts and environments, so don't hesitate! Since this is such a broad subject, you'll find programs all over the world.
- Popular Destinations: Australia, Costa Rica, Madagascar, Belize, Galapagos
Studying marine biology abroad allows students to learn about marine life in their natural habitats. While studying marine biology abroad, you could conduct research on salt marshes, or scuba dive to study fish behavior. You won't be able to study marine biology everywhere, but the areas you can study it won't disappoint.
- Popular Destinations: United Kingdom, France, Ghana, Thailand
Within human biology study abroad programs, you can study everything from nutrition, ecology, physiology, or neurobiology. Often, these programs will combine an internship or service-learning project so you can apply your lessons and learn from experience.
- Popular Destinations: New Zealand, Costa Rica, Brazil
Whether you are interested in conserving plant life or using it to improve the lives of other humans, studying botany abroad will allow you to learn about the plants of a totally new region. Further, most programs will have a research component that gets you out into the field and learning about these plants in real life. From tropical rainforests to temperate plateaus, the world is your classroom.
- Popular Destinations: United Kingdom, United States, Japan
By studying microbiology abroad, you'll learn how bacteria and viruses can be used in basic science, research, and in clinical use in an international setting. You'd be surprised about the kinds of projects researchers are working on in other nations.
- Popular Destinations: Australia, Brazil, New Zealand
By studying zoology abroad, you'll get to learn about animal anatomy, evolution, and conservation. Going abroad will let you get up close and personal with animals you would never find at home!
Planning Your Trip
Besides quality of the university’s biological science department, there are lots of other factors to consider when going abroad as a bio major. The different ecosystems and locations of different countries make them more or less applicable to a given branch of biology. For example, coastal regions (Tahiti, Australia, etc.) are much better suited to marine biology students, whereas those interested in agriculture should look for a country whose major food source is agricultural.
If you’re worried about not graduating on time, or you have lots of technical requirements that are tough to satisfy away from your home institution, a summer study abroad term would work well for you! You can supplement your home courses with excellent research opportunities and an interesting new perspective on your field!
And of course, take into consideration your own interests outside of school. Have you always wanted to study Italian, but never had time in your schedule? Now is the perfect time to apprendere l'italiano. Love Korean Barbeque? Consider studying in Seoul! Have a soft spot for sculpture? Head to Paris, Florence or even St. Petersburg and combine your love of art and science. Study abroad is the perfect time to experience a new subject and have a new adventure!
When choosing your destination, decide whether you want to take classes in English or another language, whether you prefer a program with other American students or new international friends. Do you want to live in apartment, a dorm or a homestay? There are all sorts of choices!
Costs & Funding
Conducting research abroad and being exposed to different ecosystems, bioregions, and specialties will certainly benefit all Biology majors. Sometimes you need to put down the textbook and see the world for yourself! So what are you waiting for? Quick! Pack those t-shirts and "genes" and head abroad!
Scholarships for Studying Biology
Home institutions often offer major-specific scholarships, so check with the Bio department at your school!
- If you're in the biomedial field, the Whitaker International Program offers a nice grant to research abroad.
- The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology has a list of several scholaships, which you might find useful.
- More Study Abroad Grants and Scholarships