Students enrolled in general Biology programs might be awarded Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees. A bachelor’s degree in Biology is usually used as a stepping stone to advanced education. Schools offer these programs more commonly than programs in specialized areas of concentration, such as biochemistry and immunology. Given the expansive nature of the subject, students obtain an all-round education covering the biology of microorganisms, plants, humans and animals living in a variety of environments. Specializations are offered through some general biology programs; these include cell biology and evolutionary biology. Students are imparted wide-ranging knowledge that allows them to discover a sub-discipline that interests them, for continued education through a graduate degree.
These programs impart generalized biology-based education to provide students with a solid basis in science. Coursework covers a range of subject areas such as zoology and organic chemistry. Coursework may include topic areas such as:
•Vertebrates and invertebrates
•Terrestrial and aquatic ecology
•Biology of public health
•Human anatomy and physiology
Continuing Education Choices
While recruiters for some positions, such as teaching, management, applied research and product development, accept candidates with bachelor’s degrees, recruiters for most occupations involving independent research prefer Ph.D. degree graduates (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Schools offer Ph.D. programs in Immunology that can train students to pursue medical scientist positions involved specifically in developing immunotherapy treatments. Schools also offer joint MD/Ph.D. programs related to biological therapy, and the best job opportunities often go to those who hold both degrees (BLS).
These programs cover relevant topic areas such as immunotherapeutics, immunobiology, lymphocytes, infections and inflammation, and cancer immunology. A vital component of these programs is hands-on training in laboratories; this allows students to focus on research in the area of their interest, such as biological therapy. Individuals occupied in postdoctoral positions can continue their initiatives related to immunotherapy development.
Job and Wage Outlook
A faster-than-average job growth rate of 40% has been projected for medical scientists during the decade from 2008 to 2018. This is considered likely to be driven by new scientific discoveries, such as the study of genes through advanced techniques, and the continual growth of the biotechnology industry. In May 2012, medical scientists earned an average annual wage of $76,980.
Experience can help medical scientists to advance to lead researcher positions, and guide teams of technicians and scientists. Administrative and managerial positions within the scientific work field may also be available to some individuals. Other individuals can aim at consultant roles in several businesses and government. Apart from a Ph.D., individuals who seek permanent research positions are expected to boast an established record of research publications.