A Degree in Cellular Biology: Program Structure and Career Prospect
Every living organism is made up of one or more cells. The cell is the fundamental unit of life. Cells are the structural and functional organization in organisms. Cellular or cell biology is key to understanding how organisms develop, how they respond to their environment, and how the diseased state differs from the healthy state. Diseases like meningitis, malaria, diabetes, cancer, cystic fibrosis, and Alzheimer’s are all caused by problems at a cellular or molecular level.
By studying cells and understanding how they work, cell biologists are able to develop more effective medicines and new vaccines. But cell biology is not just about disease. It has applications in human fertility, genetic analysis and health forecasting, agriculture, sustainable fuels development, archaeology, and forensic science. From single-celled bacteria to the trillions of cells that make up a human body, students of cell biology learn about cellular structure, composition, and regulation; cell growth; cellular division; and cell death.
1. Bachelor’s Degree
Bachelor’s degree programs in cellular biology introduce and explore the concepts and theories of cell biology with emphasis on its application in understanding human health. The curriculum is built around the subdisciplines of the field, which are:
- Active and Passive Transport – the movement of molecules into and out of cells
- Cell Adhesion – how cells and tissues hold together
- Cell Division – how cells duplicate themselves
- Cell Signaling – the regulation of cellular behavior by molecular signals from outside the cell
- Cellular Metabolism – the processes involved in creating and expending energy
2. Graduate Certificate
The graduate certificate in cellular biology is aimed at graduate students in a variety of disciplines from agriculture to veterinary medicine, who are looking for professional training to add to their skill sets; working professionals seeking retraining and/or additional training; educators who require continue education credits; and non-degree seeking students who want interdisciplinary science and professional training. A bachelor’s degree in biology, biochemistry, cellular biology, chemistry, genetics, microbiology, or a related field is typically required for admission into the program.
3. Doctoral Degree
The goal of the Doctoral Degree in Cellular Biology is to prepare students for a future in research or academia, or for senior level non-academic career paths.
- Degree programs in cellular biology may be offered as combined programs in molecular and cellular biology.
- Cellular biology is rarely offered as a major at the associate level. Related associate degrees in histology and histotechnology are much more common. These programs train students to work as specialized medical lab technicians, known as histotechnicians, who study tissue samples and prepare specimens for research or examination by pathologists. Core coursework includes histopathology laboratory theory, operations, and management; fundamental histotechnology techniques; and a histology practicum.
What Skills Will Cellular Biology Major Gain?
- Attention to detail
- Awareness of ethical issues
- Communication and teamwork
- Computer literacy
- Experiment design and troubleshooting
- Judgement and decision making
- Lifelong learning
- Observation, investigation, critical thinking, and complex problem solving
- Quality control analysis
- Practical lab skills
- Report writing, documentation, and presentation
- Research and data analysis and interpretation
- Safety consciousness
- Use of statistical tests in data analysis
Careers you can go into with a Cellular Biology Degree
Cellular biology graduates work in biotechnology, medical research, toxicology, and more. Some use their degree as a stepping stone to graduate studies or another professional degree such as medicine, veterinary medicine, or pharmacy. Potential employers of cellular biologists include these industries and sectors:
- Biomedical Technology
- Biotechnology Companies
- Environment and Pollution Control
- Food and Beverage Manufacturers
- Food Safety
- Health Policy and Administration
- Health Promotion and Patient Advocacy
- Hospitals and Medical Centers
- Medical Research
- Pharmaceutical Companies
- Public Health / Epidemiology
- Research and Development
- Testing Laboratories
- Zoos, Aquariums, and Wildlife Parks