Best universities for life science degrees in the US 2022

Submitted by Joy.Hunter@tim… on Wed, 10/06/2021 - 17:45

The life sciences include agriculture and forestry, biological sciences, veterinary science and sport science.

Degrees in these subjects can lead to a whole range of careers including a vet, sports scientist, researcher or conservation expert. 

However, the skills you’ll pick up through such courses, like problem-solving, data analysis and research, are equally transferable to jobs that don’t require a lab coat. Non-science career paths include consultancy, teaching, political policy and law.

If you’re interested in a life sciences degree that offers flexibility and breadth, the US could be a good fit. You can choose to study across a range of courses in the life sciences and then home in on your interests in the third and fourth years.

Most veterinary medicine courses in the US are offered at the postgraduate level, and you will be expected to have completed an undergraduate degree already.

Famous US scientists include biologist Lynn Margulis, who transformed our understanding of evolution through her work on symbiosis, and Barbara McClintock, who was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1983 for her discovery of genetic transposition. 

These are the best universities in the US for a life sciences degree.


Best universities in the world for life sciences degrees
Best universities for life science degrees in Australia
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Best universities for life sciences degrees in the UK


 1. Harvard University

Founded in 1636, Harvard University is the oldest university in the US and a member of the prestigious Ivy League.

At undergraduate level, the university offers a four-year liberal arts and sciences programme. You can study a range of courses and only need to declare your major or concentration in your second year.

Concentrations in the life sciences include biomedical engineering, human developmental and regenerative biology, human evolutionary biology, integrative biology and molecular and cellular biology among others. 

The university also offers a Master of Science in a number of areas, including biostatistics, immunology and biophysics. The Harvard Integrated Life Sciences programme covers 14 different PhD programmes, which offers students the flexibility to conduct research in the areas they are most interested in. 

Harvard University has one of the largest endowments of any university in the world and is well known for its generous financial aid programme.  

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Founded in 1861, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is an independent, co-educational, private research university based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

At MIT you can choose between eight interdisciplinary undergraduate life science programmes, including chemistry and biology, molecular biology, and humanities and science. Within these programmes you can take an array of classes in the life sciences, covering everything from human physiology to experimental biology and biostatistics. MIT even offers a new class on understanding Covid-19, run by leading experts in host cell biology, immunity and vaccine development.

There are also many options for a minor, and a range of graduate programmes specialising in the life sciences.

Among its 89 Nobel winners is current MIT professor H. Robert Horvitz, known for his research analysing the role of genes in animal development, and how this could be useful in tackling human disease.

Scientific discoveries and technological advances accredited to MIT also include the first chemical synthesis of penicillin and the development of radar.

3. Princeton University 

Princeton University follows a liberal arts curriculum, with students opting to study either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science. Students can choose to study across a range of these subjects and declare their major in their first or second year.

Undergraduate programmes within the life sciences discipline available at Princeton include molecular biology, ecology and evolutionary biology and environmental studies.

At a postgraduate level students can choose to undertake research in a range of subjects including molecular biology and cellular biochemistry. 

Princeton University is also one of the world’s foremost research universities with connections to more than 40 Nobel laureates, 17 winners of the National Medal of Science and five recipients of the National Humanities Medal.


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4.  California Institute of Technology

Founded in 1891, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a private research university in Pasadena, California. 

The division of biology and biological engineering, one of six divisions that make up the college, offers a range of majors – or options as they’re known at Caltech – in the life sciences, as well as an array of graduate programmes. These include bioengineering, computation and neural systems, neurobiology, and biophysics. You can then choose to minor in courses from the institute’s other divisions.

Alumni and faculty of Caltech have been awarded 39 Nobel Prizes, including current professor David Baltimore, who is known for his research in immunology, cancer research and biotechnology. Scientific discoveries at Caltech include antimatter, the nature of the chemical bond, quarks, and the foundations of molecular biology.

Caltech has a high research output alongside many high-quality facilities, both on campus and globally. These include the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Caltech Seismological Laboratory and the International Observatory Network.

5. Stanford University

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford University was founded in 1885, and has one of the largest college campuses in the US, with 18 interdisciplinary research institutes and seven schools on a single site.

Stanford’s curriculum offers considerable flexibility through its liberal arts approach. All undergraduate students are required to take classes in writing, ways of thinking and a foreign language, alongside a major or joint major.

Within this structure, you can take courses across a range of life sciences disciplines, including kinesiology, marine biology, human biology, physiology, ecology and many more. Undergraduate students pursuing a biology major are encouraged to undertake research, either by working in a research lab on campus or taking part in the Biology Summer Undergraduate Research Programme.

The coterminal master’s programme is designed for undergraduates who want to participate in graduate-level programmes and refine their research skills. 

Stanford University is also home to many leading research institutes in the life sciences, including Bio-X, a pioneering interdisciplinary biosciences research centre, the Baxter Laboratory in Stem Cell Biology, and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.  


Top universities in the US for the life sciences 2022

Click each institution to view its World University Rankings 2022 profile

US Life Sciences Rank 2022 WUR Life Sciences Rank 2022 University State
1 1 Harvard University Massachusetts
2 =3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts
3 5 Princeton University New Jersey
4 6 California Institute of Technology California
5 7 Stanford University California
6 8 Yale University Connecticut
7 9 University of California, Berkeley California
8 10 Johns Hopkins University Maryland
9 11 Columbia University New York 
10 12 The University of Chicago Illinois
11 16 Cornell University New York 
12 17 University of California, San Diego California
13 18 University of Washington Washington
14 =19 University of California, Los Angeles California
15 23 University of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania
16 26 Duke University North Carolina
17 27 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Michigan
18 30 University of California, Davis California
19 32 Washington University in St Louis Missouri
20 36 New York University New York 
21 =43 University of Wisconsin -Madison Wisconsin
22 51 Northwestern University Illinois
23 55 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Illinois
24 =60 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill North Carolina
25 68 Boston University Massachusetts
26 71 University of Minnesota Minnesota
27 72 University of Florida Florida
28 73 Emory University Georgia
29 74 University of California, Santa Barbara California
30 =75 Michigan State University Michigan
31 78 University of Texas at Austin Texas
32 81 Vanderbilt University Tennessee
33 =92 University of Massachusetts Massachusetts
34 =96 Dartmouth College New Hampshire
35 =98 University of Southern California California
36 =100 Georgia Institute of Technology Georgia
=37 101–125 University of California, Santa Cruz California
=37 101–125 University of California, Riverside California
=37 101–125 University of Colorado Boulder Colorado
=37 101–125 Ohio State University (Main campus) Ohio
=41 126–150 Brown University Rhode Island
=41 126–150 University of California, Irvine California
=41 126–150 Colorado State University, Fort Collins Colorado
=41 126–150 Iowa State University Iowa
=41 126–150 Penn State (Main campus) Pennsylvania
=41 126–150 University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campus Pennsylvania
=41 126–150 Texas A&M University Texas
=48 151–175 Arizona State University (Tempe) Arizona
=48 151–175 University of Delaware Delaware
=48 151–175 University of Maryland, College Park Maryland
=48 151–175 Rice University Texas
=52 176–200 North Carolina State University North Carolina
=52 176–200 University of Virginia (Main campus) Virginia
=54 201–250 University of Arizona Arizona
=54 201–250 Florida State University Florida
=54 201–250 University of Georgia Georgia
=54 201–250 Indiana University Indiana
=54 201–250 Northeastern University Massachusetts
=54 201–250 University of Notre Dame Indiana
=54 201–250 Stony Brook University New York 
=54 201–250 Temple University Pennsylvania
=54 201–250 Tufts University Massachusetts
=63 251–300 Brandeis University Massachusetts
=63 251–300 University of California, Merced California
=63 251–300 Case Western Reserve University Ohio
=63 251–300 George Washington University Washington D.C
=63 251–300 University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Hawai'i
=63 251–300 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Nebraska
=63 251–300 Northern Arizona University Arizona
=63 251–300 University of Rochester New York 
=63 251–300 University of Utah Utah
=63 251–300 Washington State University Washington
=73 301–400 University of Central Florida Florida
=73 301–400 Florida International University Florida
=73 301–400 Georgetown University Washington D.C
=73 301–400 University of Iowa Iowa
=73 301–400 University of Miami Florida
=73 301–400 University of Montana Montana
=73 301–400 University of Oregon Oregon
=73 301–400 Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey New Jersey
=73 301–400 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Virginia
=73 301–400 Wake Forest University North Carolina
=73 301–400 University of Connecticut Connecticut
=73 301–400 University of Illinois at Chicago Illinois
=73 301–400 Kansas State University Kansas
=73 301–400 University of Maryland, Baltimore County Maryland
=87 401–500 The University of Alabama Alabama
=87 401–500 University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska
=87 401–500 University of Arkansas Arkansas
=87 401–500 University at Buffalo New York 
=87 401–500 George Mason University Virginia
=87 401–500 Georgia State University Georgia
=87 401–500 University of Kansas Kansas
=87 401–500 University of Kentucky Kentucky
=87 401–500 Mizzou - University of Missouri Missouri
=87 401–500 Montana State University Montana
=87 401–500 University of Nebraska Medical Center Nebraska
=87 401–500 University of North Carolina at Greensboro North Carolina
=87 401–500 Ohio University (Main campus) Ohio
=87 401–500 San Diego State University California
=87 401–500 The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Tennessee
=87 401–500 William & Mary Virginia
=87 401–500 University of Wyoming Wyoming
=104 501–600 Auburn University Alabama
=104 501–600 Georgia Southern University Georgia
=104 501–600 Howard University Washington D.C
=104 501–600 University of Idaho Idaho
=104 501–600 Louisiana State University Louisiana
=104 501–600 University of Memphis Tennessee
=104 501–600 University of Rhode Island Rhode Island
=104 501–600 Saint Louis University Missouri
=104 501–600 University of South Carolina-Columbia South Carolina
=104 501–600 University of Texas at El Paso Texas
=104 501–600 Texas Tech University Texas
=115 601–800 Clemson University South Carolina
=115 601–800 Creighton University Nebraska
=115 601–800 Florida Atlantic University Florida
=115 601–800 University of Houston Texas
=115 601–800 Mississippi State University Mississippi
=115 601–800 University of Nevada, Las Vegas Nevada
=115 601–800 New Mexico State University (Main campus) New Mexico
=115 601–800 University of North Carolina at Charlotte North Carolina
=115 601–800 University of North Carolina at Wilmington North Carolina
=115 601–800 Nova Southeastern University Florida
=115 601–800 Oklahoma State University Oklahoma
=115 601–800 SUNY University at Albany New York 
=115 601–800 University of South Dakota South Dakota
=115 601–800 Syracuse University New York 
=115 601–800 University of Texas at Arlington Texas
=115 601–800 The University of Texas at San Antonio Texas
=115 601–800 Texas State University Texas
=115 601–800 University of Toledo Ohio
=115 601–800 Wayne State University Michigan
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Explore the top universities in the US for life sciences using data from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022

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