Best Colleges for Science: An Introduction
Are you interested in pursuing a degree in a STEM field? In that case, you’re likely curious about the best colleges for science.
So, what are the best colleges for science out there? In this guide to the best science colleges, we’ll break down some of the best colleges for science in various fields. This includes the best universities for biology, chemistry, physics, and other science disciplines.
We’ll walk you through the best science colleges and discuss:
- The best universities for biology
- Some of the best environmental science colleges
- Different science majors
- What to consider when choosing a college
- And more!
Throughout this “Best Colleges for Science” guide, we’ll also offer our advice for choosing the best school for different college majors. That way, you can be prepared to apply to the best colleges for science or the best colleges for biology.
More than college rankings
As you consider our lists of best science colleges, remember that rankings aren’t everything. While you’ll get a great education at any one of the best colleges for science, they might not all be the right fit.
Often, you’ll find that the best colleges for science are large research universities. Why are these the best colleges for science majors? Well, these schools have a lot of resources, which creates research opportunities for undergraduates. This also gives students access to professional-grade laboratories and equipment. However, you can still get a great education in science at many smaller schools, including top liberal arts colleges. Overall, you’ll find that each of the best colleges for science has its own benefits.
Choosing the best colleges for science for you is a personal decision. Our best science colleges lists may not be the best for you based on your preferences and future goals. As you read this guide, consider the question: what are the best colleges for science for you?
Science Majors: Exploring your options
As you think about the best colleges for science, remember that “science” is a large umbrella that contains many college majors. When you think of science classes you’ve taken in high school, you’re likely thinking of natural science. However, as you choose your future major in college, you’ll have a lot more options. So, when it comes to science majors at the best colleges for science, think about your options.
As you search for the best colleges for science, narrow down what type of science majors interest you. Then, you can find the best universities for science fields in your desired area. So, before we dig into the best colleges for science, let’s talk about some of the different STEM college majors available—starting with the natural sciences.
When you think about the natural sciences, you could think of it as the liberal arts of science majors.
Natural sciences are interdisciplinary science majors. In these programs, you’ll study many different types of sciences rather than just focusing on one area. This is a great option for those wanting a broader science experience in their undergraduate degree. However, a logical next step for those looking at science majors within the natural sciences is to go onto specialized graduate programs.
While completing a natural science degree at one of the best colleges for science majors, students will study mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geology, astronomy, and life sciences. As you can see, that’s a lot of different science majors! That means students with a natural science background can go into many different fields. These include research, teaching, IT, and more.
Choosing a specialization
Science majors include computer science, psychology, biology, chemistry, mathematics, environmental science, physics, and many others! The best colleges for science give students plenty of options. However, knowing which specialization you’re interested in will narrow down your choices. For example, the best universities for biology might be different from the top environmental science schools. Similarly, there are many different biology majors at the best universities for biology. So, knowing your concentration could help when determining the best colleges for biology or the best science schools in general.
So, if you know your science area of study, instead of looking at the best science schools, you might consider the best colleges by major.
What are the best colleges for science?
First, let’s take a general look at the best universities for science.
The field of science is vast, spanning across many different college majors. However, you’ll find that certain schools have different programs across college majors.
The best universities for science all have different strengths. For example, one of the best engineering schools may not also be the best college for biochemistry. Likewise, the best universities for biology may be different from the best environmental science colleges. Therefore, it’s important that you think about what your major in college is going to be before you build your college list. That way, you can look at the best colleges by major.
Are you keen to pursue a career in a science-related field? If so, attending one of the best universities for science and pursuing a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) major in college is important. Receiving a top-tier education at one of the best science colleges can set you up for success in high-demand fields.
Best Colleges for Science: Understanding your options
The natural sciences are generally divided into two categories: physical science and life science. Physical science is the study of non-living systems. This includes college majors like physics, chemistry, earth sciences, geology, oceanography, meteorology, and space science.
Life science, by converse, is the study of living systems. This includes college majors like biology, biochemistry, microbiology, botany, zoology, and ecology.
If you’re looking for a top-ten list of the best colleges for science, it will likely vary depending on which branch of science you plan to major in. There is no single overall “best college for science.” Instead, the strength of each school will vary by program.
When considering the best universities for biology, best environmental science colleges, or the best science schools, you’ll also want to think about your career goals. For example, what can you do with your biology degree after graduating from one of the best universities for biology? Remember that attending the best colleges for science is just the first step in your science career.
Best universities for biology
Let’s begin with the best universities for biology and life sciences. If you enjoyed biology in high school or are interested in the best pre med schools, one of these best colleges for biology might be a great fit for you.
Here are the top ten best universities for biology:
Top 10 Best Universities for Biology
It may come as no surprise that this Ivy League university, with one of the best pre med programs in the nation, is also one of the best colleges for biology. The undergraduate biology major at Harvard is considered a Bachelor of Liberal Arts Degree. Students may choose to study Biology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Chemical and Physical Biology, Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology, and many more.
Like Harvard, MIT is a prestigious university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT is internationally known for its STEM programs. Out of the varied STEM MIT majors, biology is a popular choice. Within the biology “courses” (MIT majors), there are many different tracks that students can choose from. These include biochemistry and computational biology.
On the other side of the nation, and one of the best universities in California, Stanford also provides students with a quality biology program. The first two years of study feature a variety of different introductory courses in biology. From there, students choose which branch of biology they will continue to study.
The UC schools are some of the best universities in the nation, as well as some of the best universities for biology. In fact, according to U.S. News, UC San Francisco ranks in the top 10 best universities for biology in a number of different specializations (Cell biology, biochemistry, microbiology, neuroscience, and more!).
Another UC school makes our best universities for biology list with the Biological Sciences program. Through a combination of research and lab work, students work towards better understanding the behavior of living organisms.
UC San Diego also has one of the best biological sciences programs in the nation. This program provides students with a strong basis in the fundamentals of biological processes. From there, students can go on to specialize in a variety of fields and careers. The UC San Diego campus also offers its students an excellent research facility with many others nearby.
Another one of the best pre-med programs in the nation, Johns Hopkins offers an excellent biology program–especially if you’re looking at Johns Hopkins majors related to medicine. The biology department at Johns Hopkins has 27 different research laboratories. In addition to a four year program, JHU also offers a five year Master’s program for biology Johns Hopkins majors.
Located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell is another Ivy League university that makes our list of best universities for biology. Students in the College of Arts and Sciences and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences can declare this major. Check out all the requirements and concentrations within the program here.
The biology department at UW has an interdisciplinary approach to life sciences, like many of the other best universities for biology listed. One unique quality of this program is the collaboration both in and outside of the classroom and lab. The major creates a tight-knit community with a shared passion for the sciences.
Students at UCLA will gain a broad understanding of the life sciences from the biology major. However, it’s also a great foundation for those preparing for a health sciences career. And, according to U.S. News UCLA ranks as #17 in biological sciences.
However, remember that the “best college for biology” will look different for everyone. This list of best universities for biology is a great starting point as you find the right school for you. If biology interests you, learn more about life as a biology major.
Top Environmental Science Colleges
Next, let’s look at more of the best universities by major—specifically, the best colleges for science in terms of environmental science programs. This list can help you find some of the best colleges for science based on your prospective major in college.
Here are ten of the top environmental science schools:
Top 10 Schools for Environmental Science
The Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability aims to educate students in order to solve problems on a global scale. Through a combined program of environmental science, students are encouraged to use their education in order to become leaders in their fields.
Students choosing to study environmental science at Harvard will do so within the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The discipline includes diversity in courses ranging from geophysics to oceanography. According to U.S. News, Harvard ranks #1 in Best Global Universities for Environment and Ecology.
Students who choose to study environmental science at UC Berkeley will take courses from different disciplines for their freshman and sophomore years. From there, students will choose their concentrations: Biological Science, Social Science, or Physical Science.
Located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, this is one of the top environmental science schools in the nation. The environmental sciences, policy and management (ESPM) major is an interdisciplinary major that looks to link policy, business, education, management, and science.
Another one of our best universities for biology appears again on our top environmental science schools list with the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. This major focuses on studying the environment through field-based research. Students learn how to use this knowledge in order to find solutions to real world problems.
Another Ivy League comes in as one of the best universities for science, and specifically environmental science. The Yale School of Environment is more than just a department; it’s a community. The school aims to give students an education that leads to future careers that create a more sustainable world.
Another UC school on our list, the UC Santa Barbara environmental studies program aims to understand the complex relationship between humans and the environment. Students will be able to study a variety of different environmental issues.
Through courses, internships, and independent research, students will learn how to address critical environmental issues. And, as an Ivy League school, Princeton offers some of the best research facilities and professors in the nation. Students majoring in environmental studies at Princeton make up a part of the High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI).
The environmental science department at Duke describes itself as “More than a degree. It’s a purpose.” Students studying at the Nicholas School of the Environment will learn specific and practical skills to apply to creating real change and innovation. And, according to U.S. News, Duke ranks quite high in national environmental science schools, coming in at #6.
Students studying within the department of environmental studies will learn through courses in humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. This program grants students transferable skills that allow them to find solutions to environmental problems. UC Boulder also encourages community connection and innovation.
As you’ll notice, there’s a lot of overlap in the best colleges for science in different majors. Many of the schools that top our list of the best universities for biology, for instance, will also appear on our list of the best colleges for computer science. After all, the best colleges for science tend to be well-resourced universities with vast resources for many science majors.
While this is not an exhaustive list of the top environmental science schools, we hope it gives you an idea of some of the best environmental science colleges.
Remember—you should always do your own research on the best science colleges. Perhaps you’re thinking about attending one of the best colleges for biology or one of the best environmental science colleges as a stepping stone to a future job. If so, research the common career paths for science majors of the schools on your list.
Best Science colleges: Physical Sciences
Different from life sciences, the physical sciences include natural sciences that focus on inanimate matter or energy. Logically, the best colleges for sciences include majors in the physical sciences. These include physics, chemistry, and astronomy.
What are the best colleges for science? Well, it could vary depending on what type of science you plan to study. For example, the best universities for biology will differ slightly from the best environmental science colleges. However, many of the best colleges for science will offer top programs in a variety of areas.
We’ve already looked at some of the best environmental science colleges and some of the best universities for biology. Next, let’s look at more of the best science schools for science majors—namely, physics and chemistry.
According to U.S. News, here are the top ten best colleges for physics:
Best Colleges for Physics
You’ll notice that many of our best environmental science colleges and best universities for biology are also on our list of best physics schools. That’s because many of the best colleges for science will have a variety of science concentrations for students to choose from.
Now, let’s look at U.S. News best schools for chemistry:
Best Colleges for Chemistry
Again, while there’s some variety in the order of the best colleges by major (physics and chemistry), you’ll notice that there are many repeats on each list. The best colleges for science will feature different college majors within the sciences.
However, keep in mind that students may not have to declare a major in college for the first two years (in most programs). So, you can likely choose the best college for science in any of these fields and receive a high quality education.
Planning your career with a science degree
Let’s look at some of the potential career paths for these college majors. Thinking about what you want to do once you graduate can help you choose your major in college. It can also help you select schools as you look at lists of the best universities for biology and best science colleges.
If you attend one of the best colleges for biology, you could choose to become a research scientist, a nature conservation officer, or a marine biologist, to name a few. You could also attend one of the best colleges for biology, for instance, and pursue a pre-med track. After all, many of the best undergraduate biology programs are located in some of the best pre med schools. So, if you’re looking for the best pre med universities, check out those programs.
If you attend one of the best environmental science colleges, you may choose to work as an environmental consultant, a recycling coordinator, or a water conservationist. So, depending on your chosen major in college and the different programs at different environmental science colleges, you’ll have a lot of options.
More career options
Physics is known as a challenging concentration within the sciences. However, if you graduate with a degree in physics from one of the best universities for science, you’ll have plenty of interesting, high-earning careers to choose from.
Overall, physics careers vary greatly from graduates’ career options from the best universities for biology. Some interesting career options for physics majors are forensic scientist, radiation safety officer, nuclear engineer, and professor. While some of these careers may require more than a physics undergraduate degree from one of the best colleges for science, there are entry level options, too. Check out some more options here.
Another of our college majors in science that provides graduates from the best science colleges with a wide range of career options is chemistry. Some possible career choices for chemistry majors include organic chemist, chemical engineer, and pharmacologist. Again, always check the education requirements for different professions. For example, a chemistry teacher can begin working with their undergraduate chemistry degree. A chemical engineer, by contrast, will likely need further education.
At any of these best colleges for science, you can choose from many college majors. The best college for science is the one that meets your particular needs. For example, you may not want to study at one of the best universities for biology if you know you don’t want a career in the field.
Comparing best science colleges
You may also wonder how to compare the best colleges for science. Well, you should consider your own needs as you build your best universities for science college list.
Firstly, and most importantly, you should worry about finding the best college for science or best universities for biology for you. The best universities for science for you may differ from the “top ten” lists found from a google search. Choosing your school is a personal decision and revolves around more than rankings.
The best colleges for science majors should have high-powered facilities and other opportunities. For example, most MIT majors participate in faculty-led research while completing their undergraduate degrees. As you search for the best colleges for biology, physics, chemistry or other science college majors, look for hands-on research opportunities.
More considerations when choosing a college
Additionally, college size is important when it comes to choosing the best science schools for you. Your experience at a large university will be quite different from that at a small university. While neither is “better” than the other, you need to consider how you feel on campus as well as the opportunities available.
For example, Johns Hopkins majors enjoy a smaller college setting with about 6,000 undergraduates. Likewise, MIT majors enjoy a similarly sized university as Johns Hopkins majors with an MIT undergraduate enrollment of about 4,600. While neither are super small, they’re certainly different from large public universities with 30,000 undergraduates.
Planning for graduate school
Students considering the best universities for biology or other science college majors may also consider graduate school. You may choose to complete your undergraduate degree at a different university than your master’s or doctorate. However, students often enjoy benefits when completing both degrees at the same institution.
For example, you may be able to complete a five year’s Master’s program, or you may have a better chance of being accepted to particularly competitive programs. So, if you already know that you’d like to pursue more than a BA, consider the best universities for science with graduate programs in your concentration.
Considering faculty and other key features
When looking for the best science colleges, you should also learn about different professors. After all, the faculty will play a pivotal role in your education experience. At the best science schools in the nation, you’ll learn from professors who are established leaders in their fields. For example, MIT majors and Johns Hopkins majors are able to take classes from internationally renowned faculty with impressive experience in their fields.
Location may also make a difference when choosing where to apply. You may want to study in Boston, New York, or other big cities. So, if you know you want to study in a certain city, then narrow your search to “science schools in Boston,” for example.
And, like with any college list you make, you should consider the requirements for acceptance. Understanding the college admissions process will allow you to make a comprehensive “best universities for science” list for your needs. So, learn as much as possible about the college admissions process. This will allow you to create a list with a combination of safety and reach schools.
How much can science majors earn?
While you should choose college majors based on more than just earning potential, salary may be an important factor as you plan for your future. If you’re looking at the best colleges for science or the best universities for biology, then you’re about to join a group of graduates with high earning potential. In fact, a career in the sciences could mean one of the highest salaries of the various college majors.
However, there’s more to your future salary than just an undergraduate degree. Many high-earning careers in science may require you to have a Master’s degree or even a Ph. D in science. Similarly, your earning potential will increase as you gain more professional experience.
Let’s check out a snapshot of the yearly average salaries of various high-paying careers for STEM college majors:
- Forensic Science Technician: $50,208
- Microbiologist: $63,591
- Environmental Scientist: $71,205
- Laboratory Manager: $72,566
- Ecologist: $75,848
As we can see, many high-earning careers fall within science college majors. That means that a degree from one of the best universities for biology, environmental science, physics, or any other STEM fields can set you up for a more than comfortable salary. And, another added bonus of gaining a degree from the best colleges for science is that jobs within this field are expected to grow by 8% through 2030.
So, from a financial and career opportunity standpoint, science college majors are set up for success.
Best Colleges for Science: Final Thoughts
In this guide, we checked out some of the best universities for biology, environmental science, physics, and chemistry majors. However, beyond these lists of best universities for biology and other sciences, we also looked at some future career opportunities for STEM graduates. Additionally, we saw the importance of choosing schools based on your specific science programs. After all, the best universities for biology can vary from the best universities for physics.
However, overall, the best universities for biology will likely also have other top-tier science programs. So, don’t stress if you aren’t positive on your science concentration just yet. In fact, you may not even have to officially choose your major during the college admissions process; it all depends on the types of programs you’re interested in.
And, remember, CollegeAdvisor can help you through each step of the college admissions process. From building your college list of best science schools to filling out your applications, our experts know just what it takes to craft the most competitive applications. Click here to schedule a consultation now.
This article was written by Sarah Kaminski. Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how CollegeAdvisor.com can support you in the college application process.