the logo

Best universities for life sciences degrees in the US 2023

Explore the top universities in the US for life sciences using data from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022

Best universities in
November 10 2022
Which US universities are best for life sciences?


Top 10 universities in the US for life science degrees 2023

Scroll down for the full list of best universities in the US for life science degrees

US life sciences rank 2023 WUR life sciences rank 2023 University State
1 1 Harvard University Massachusetts
2 3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts
3 5 Stanford University California
4 6 California Institute of Technology California
5 7 Yale University Connecticut
6 8 Princeton University New Jersey
7 9 University of California, Berkeley California
8 10 Johns Hopkins University Maryland
9 12 Columbia University New York
10 15 University of California, San Diego California

The life sciences cover a wide range of subjects including biology, zoology, agriculture and many others. 

Shorelight logo
Get free support to study in the United States

Due the multiple skills that students learn on a life sciences degree, graduates will be able to use their degree to enter a range of industries and jobs. 

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
Best universities for life sciences degrees in Canada
Best universities for life sciences degrees in the UK

5. Yale University

Yale University was founded in 1701 and is the third oldest university in the United States.

Yale University in Connecticut is a member of the prestigiously known Ivy League 

Students have the option to study a range of courses covering liberal arts and science. Once you have completed your first year, you can then declare your major for your second year. This provides students with the ability to try an array of subjects before they find the perfect fit.

Postgraduate students have the ability to join the school of the environment or the graduate school of arts and science.

4.  California Institute of Technology

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

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.

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.

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.

Scientific discoveries at Caltech include antimatter, the nature of the chemical bond, quarks, and the foundations of molecular biology.

What can you do with an agriculture degree?
What can you do with a biology degree?
What can you do with a sports science degree?
What can you do with a veterinary science degree?

3. 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.  

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. 

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.

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.

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

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.  

Top universities in the US for the life sciences 2023

Click each institution to view its World University Rankings 2023 profile

US life sciences rank 2023 WUR life sciences rank 2023 University State
1 1 Harvard University Massachusetts
2 3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts
3 5 Stanford University California
4 6 California Institute of Technology California
5 7 Yale University Connecticut
6 8 Princeton University New Jersey
7 9 University of California, Berkeley California
8 10 Johns Hopkins University Maryland
9 12 Columbia University New York
10 15 University of California, San Diego California
11 16 University of Washington Washington
12 17 The University of Chicago Illinois
13 19 Cornell University New York
14 21 University of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania
15 =24 University of California, Los Angeles California
16 26 Duke University North Carolina
17 28 University of California, Davis California
18 30 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Michigan
19 36 Washington University in St Louis Missouri
20 40 New York University New York
=21 =49 Northwestern University Illinois
=21 =49 University of Wisconsin-Madison Wisconsin
23 =57 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill North Carolina
24 66 Emory University Georgia
=25 =69 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Illinois
=25 =69 University of Minnesota Minnesota
27 =71 Vanderbilt University Tennessee
28 73 University of California, Santa Barbara California
29 75 Boston University Massachusetts
30 78 University of Massachusetts Massachusetts
31 =88 University of Southern California California
32 =90 University of Florida Florida
33 =98 Michigan State University Michigan
34 =100 University of California, Santa Cruz California
=35 101–125 University of California, Irvine California
=35 101–125 University of California, Riverside California
=35 101–125 Dartmouth College New Hampshire
=35 101–125 University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campus Pennsylvania
=35 101–125 University of Texas at Austin Texas
=40 126–150 Brown University Rhode Island
=40 126–150 University of Colorado Boulder Colorado
=40 126–150 Ohio State University (Main campus) Ohio
=40 126–150 Penn State (Main campus) Pennsylvania
=40 126–150 Purdue University West Lafayette Indiana
=40 126–150 Rice University Texas
=40 126–150 Texas A&M University Texas
=47 151–175 Colorado State University, Fort Collins Colorado
=47 151–175 Iowa State University Iowa
=47 151–175 University of Maryland, College Park Maryland
=47 151–175 Temple University Pennsylvania
=51 176–200 University of Arizona Arizona
=51 176–200 Arizona State University (Tempe) Arizona
=51 176–200 University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Hawai'i
=54 201–250 University of California, Merced California
=54 201–250 Case Western Reserve University Ohio
=54 201–250 University of Delaware Delaware
=54 201–250 Georgetown University Washington DC
=54 201–250 Indiana University Indiana
=54 201–250 North Carolina State University North Carolina
=54 201–250 Northeastern University Illinois
=54 201–250 University of Rochester New York
=54 201–250 University of South Florida Florida
=54 201–250 Tufts University Massachusetts
=54 201–250 University of Utah Utah
=54 201–250 University of Virginia (Main campus) Virginia
=66 251–300 Florida State University Florida
=66 251–300 George Washington University Washington DC
=66 251–300 University of Iowa Iowa
=66 251–300 University of Miami Florida
=66 251–300 Rutgers University – New Brunswick New Jersey
=66 251–300 Stony Brook University New York
=66 251–300 Washington State University Washington
=73 301–400 University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska
=73 301–400 Brandeis University Massachusetts
=73 301–400 University of Central Florida Florida
=73 301–400 University of Connecticut Connecticut
=73 301–400 Florida International University Florida
=73 301–400 University of Georgia Georgia
=73 301–400 Howard University Washington DC
=73 301–400 University of Illinois at Chicago Illinois
=73 301–400 University of Kansas Kansas
=73 301–400 Kansas State University Kansas
=73 301–400 Montana State University Montana
=73 301–400 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Nebraska
=73 301–400 University of Notre Dame Indiana
=73 301–400 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Virginia
=73 301–400 Wake Forest University North Carolina
=88 401–500 University at Buffalo New York
=88 401–500 George Mason University Virginia
=88 401–500 Georgia State University Georgia
=88 401–500 University of Kentucky Kentucky
=88 401–500 University of Maryland, Baltimore County Maryland
=88 401–500 Mizzou - University of Missouri Missouri
=88 401–500 University of Nebraska Medical Center Nebraska
=88 401–500 Saint Louis University Missouri
=88 401–500 The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Tennessee
=88 401–500 University of Texas at El Paso Texas
=88 401–500 Virginia Commonwealth University Virginia
=99 501–600 University of Arkansas Arkansas
=99 501–600 Auburn University Alabama
=99 501–600 Georgia Southern University Georgia
=99 501–600 University of Houston Texas
=99 501–600 Louisiana State University Louisiana
=99 501–600 University of North Carolina at Greensboro North Carolina
=99 501–600 Ohio University (Main campus) Ohio
=99 501–600 University of Rhode Island Rhode Island
=99 501–600 San Diego State University California
=99 501–600 University of South Carolina-Columbia South Carolina
=99 501–600 William & Mary Virginia
=99 501–600 University of Wyoming Wyoming
=111 601–800 The University of Alabama Alabama
=111 601–800 Clemson University South Carolina
=111 601–800 Florida Atlantic University Florida
=111 601–800 University of Memphis Tennessee
=111 601–800 Mississippi State University Mississippi
=111 601–800 University of Nevada, Las Vegas Nevada
=111 601–800 New Mexico State University (Main campus) New Mexico
=111 601–800 University of North Carolina Wilmington North Carolina
=111 601–800 Nova Southeastern University Florida
=111 601–800 Oklahoma State University Oklahoma
=111 601–800 Southern Illinois University Carbondale Illinois
=111 601–800 SUNY University at Albany New York
=111 601–800 University of Texas at Arlington Texas
=111 601–800 University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Texas
=111 601–800 The University of Texas at San Antonio Texas
=111 601–800 Texas State University Texas
=111 601–800 Texas Tech University Texas
=111 601–800 University of Toledo Ohio
=111 601–800 Wayne State University Michigan
=130 801–1000 Creighton University Nebraska
=130 801–1000 Rowan University New Jersey
=130 801–1000 University of South Dakota South Dakota
=130 801–1000 Syracuse University New York

You may also like

Looking through a microscope

Best universities for life sciences degrees 2023

Find the best universities for life sciences using Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2023 data

October 25 2022
sticky sign up

Register free and enjoy extra benefits