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Best universities for life sciences degrees in the US 2024

Explore the top universities in the US for life sciences using data from the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2024

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October 30 2023
Which US universities are best for life sciences?


Top 10 universities in the US for life science degrees 2024

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

US life sciences rank 2024  Life sciences rank 2024  University State
1  1  Harvard University Massachusetts
2  4  Stanford University California
3  5  Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts
4  6  Yale University Connecticut
5  7  Princeton University New Jersey
6  8  Johns Hopkins University Maryland
7  9  University of California, Berkeley California
8  11  California Institute of Technology California
9  14  Columbia University New York
10  =15  Cornell University New York

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

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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.

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5. 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.

4. 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.

3. 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. 

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.

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2. 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.  

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 2024

Click each institution to view its World University Rankings 2024 profile

US life sciences rank 2024  Life sciences rank 2024  University State
1  1  Harvard University Massachusetts
2  4  Stanford University California
3  5  Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts
4  6  Yale University Connecticut
5  7  Princeton University New Jersey
6  8  Johns Hopkins University Maryland
7  9  University of California, Berkeley California
8  11  California Institute of Technology California
9  14  Columbia University New York
10  =15  Cornell University New York
11  17  University of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania
12  18  The University of Chicago Illinois
13  21  University of Washington Washington
14  23  University of California, Los Angeles California
15  24  University of California, San Diego California
16  25  Duke University North Carolina
17  26  University of California, Davis California
18  29  University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Michigan
19  37  Washington University in St Louis Missouri
20  39  New York University New York
21  =44  University of Wisconsin-Madison Wisconsin
22  50  Northwestern University Illinois
23  57  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill North Carolina
24  =65  University of Minnesota Minnesota
25  67  Emory University Georgia
26  70  University of Massachusetts Massachusetts
=27  =72  Boston University Massachusetts
=27  =72  University of Florida Florida
=27  =72  Vanderbilt University Tennessee
30  75  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Illinois
31  80  University of Southern California California
32  =84  Purdue University West Lafayette Indiana
33  95  University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campus Pennsylvania
34  96  Michigan State University Michigan
=35  101–125  Brown University Rhode Island
=35  101–125  University of California, Irvine California
=35  101–125  University of California, Santa Barbara California
=35  101–125  Dartmouth College New Hampshire
=35  101–125  Texas A&M University Texas
=35  101–125  University of Texas at Austin Texas
=41  126–150  University of California, Riverside California
=41  126–150  University of California, Santa Cruz California
=41  126–150  Ohio State University (Main campus) Ohio
=41  126–150  Penn State (Main campus) Pennsylvania
=45  151–175  University of Colorado Boulder Colorado
=45  151–175  Rice University Texas
=47  176–200  University of Arizona Arizona
=47  176–200  Arizona State University (Tempe) Arizona
=47  176–200  University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Hawai'i
=47  176–200  Iowa State University Iowa
=47  176–200  University of Maryland, College Park Maryland
=47  176–200  University of Rochester New York
=47  176–200  University of Virginia (Main campus) Virginia
=54  201–250  Case Western Reserve University Ohio
=54  201–250  Colorado State University, Fort Collins Colorado
=54  201–250  University of Georgia Georgia
=54  201–250  University of Iowa Iowa
=54  201–250  University of Miami Florida
=54  201–250  North Carolina State University North Carolina
=54  201–250  Northeastern University, US Illinois
=54  201–250  Rutgers University – New Brunswick New Jersey
=54  201–250  University of South Florida Florida
=54  201–250  Stony Brook University New York
=54  201–250  Temple University Pennsylvania
=54  201–250  Tufts University Massachusetts
=66  251–300  University of California, Merced California
=66  251–300  University of Connecticut Connecticut
=66  251–300  George Washington University Washington DC
=66  251–300  University of Illinois Chicago Illinois
=66  251–300  Indiana University Indiana
=66  251–300  University of Notre Dame Indiana
=66  251–300  University of Utah Utah
=66  251–300  Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Virginia
=66  251–300  Washington State University Washington
=75  301–400  University of Central Florida Florida
=75  301–400  University of Delaware Delaware
=75  301–400  Florida International University Florida
=75  301–400  Florida State University Florida
=75  301–400  Georgetown University Washington DC
=75  301–400  University of Kansas Kansas
=75  301–400  Kansas State University Kansas
=75  301–400  University of Kentucky Kentucky
=75  301–400  Mizzou - University of Missouri Missouri
=75  301–400  University of Nebraska-Lincoln Nebraska
=75  301–400  The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Tennessee
=75  301–400  Virginia Commonwealth University Virginia
=75  301–400  Wake Forest University North Carolina
=88  401–500  University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska
=88  401–500  University of Arkansas Arkansas
=88  401–500  Auburn University Alabama
=88  401–500  Brandeis University Massachusetts
=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  Montana State University Montana
=88  401–500  University of Nebraska Medical Center Nebraska
=88  401–500  University of Oregon Oregon
=88  401–500  Saint Louis University Missouri
=88  401–500  University of Wyoming Wyoming
=100  501–600  Louisiana State University Louisiana
=100  501–600  University of Maryland, Baltimore County Maryland
=100  501–600  San Diego State University California
=100  501–600  University of South Carolina-Columbia South Carolina
=104  601–800  Florida Atlantic University Florida
=104  601–800  University of Houston Texas
=104  601–800  University of Memphis Tennessee
=104  601–800  Mississippi State University Mississippi
=104  601–800  University of Nevada, Las Vegas Nevada
=104  601–800  New Mexico State University (Main campus) New Mexico
=104  601–800  Ohio University (Main campus) Ohio
=104  601–800  Oklahoma State University Oklahoma
=104  601–800  University of Rhode Island Rhode Island
=104  601–800  Syracuse University New York
=104  601–800  University of Texas at Arlington Texas
=104  601–800  University of Texas at El Paso Texas
=104  601–800  University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Texas
=104  601–800  The University of Texas at San Antonio Texas
=104  601–800  Texas State University Texas
=104  601–800  Texas Tech University Texas
=104  601–800  Wayne State University Michigan
=104  601–800  William & Mary Virginia
=122  801–1000  Central Michigan University Michigan
=122  801–1000  Georgia Southern University Georgia
=122  801–1000  Rowan University New Jersey
=122  801–1000  University of South Dakota South Dakota

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Best universities for life sciences degrees 2024

Find the best universities for life sciences using Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2024 data

October 26 2023
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