If you are interested in majoring in biology or computer science, you might want to know more about what each major has to offer. This post will show you the key facts about each major and help you to decide which would be a better degree for you.

At a glance:

BiologyComputer science
Payscale reported
average pay
$71,112$85,235
Job prospectsAverageVery good
Types of jobs
you can qualify for
Lab assistant
Physician assistant
Biomedical engineer
Nurse
Physical therapist
Veterinarian
Optometrist
High school teacher
Software Engineer
Software developer
Web developer
App developer
Data scientist
Data analyst
Difficulty of the
major
HardHard
Key things to noteIt can be difficult to find
a job with just a bachelor’s
degree in biology. A
master’s degree or
PhD is often required.

Other easier majors
can be better for
medical school.

The major can become
more employable if
combined with a more
applied minor.

It is a major that can
give good job satisfaction
once you can find a job.


A very employable
degree with just a
bachelor’s degree. A
master’s degree can
help in obtaining more
senior positions.

The jobs typically pay
very well, have reasonable
hours and high satisfaction.

A good major if you are
interested in remote work.

Can give you access to
data science and
machine learning roles
if you choose the right
classes.

High predicted job growth.
Source for biology pay and jobs
Source for computer science major salary and jobs

There are a number of things to consider when choosing between the two degrees. Below, are details about each major, their differences and reasons to choose one or the other.

Details about a biology degree

Below are some of the key details about a degree in biology.

Pay

According to Payscale, the average pay for a person with a degree in biology is $71,112. This is better than the average across all majors. However, something to consider, is that the average will be being increased considerably by people with master’s degrees and PhDs in biology.

Jobs

Biology can be a somewhat general degree that is not specialized towards specific job roles. As a result, it is often necessary to combine biology with a more applied minor or to get an advanced degree after graduating, in order to make the major more employable.

In a ZipRecruiter survey, it was found that 35% of biology graduates regret choosing the major due to difficulty finding a job without an advanced degree.

With that being said, the major can be a gateway towards jobs in a number of different fields, but it will often require some extra studying to become employable in those fields.

According to Payscale, people with a degree in biology often get jobs as:

  • Lab assistant
  • Physician assistant
  • Biomedical engineer
  • Nurse
  • Physical therapist
  • Veterinarian
  • Optometrist
  • High school teacher

Note that many of these jobs will require at least a master’s degree.

Something to be aware of is that many of the jobs that require advanced degrees do have strong predicted job growth (source). This is encouraging if you are set on getting an advanced degree in biology. However, something to be aware of is that if you change your mind halfway through, it could be difficult to find a job with just a bachelor’s degree in biology.

Difficulty

Biology is a difficult major. The biology classes themselves can be difficult and the major will usually require math, statistics, physics, and chemistry classes. Overall, you should expect to have to put a lot of time into the major. When compared with a computer science degree, you can expect them to be similarly difficult.

Classes

Classes you can expect to take in a biology major can include:

  • Calculus
  • Statistics
  • Chemistry
  • Introduction to physics
  • Introduction to biology
  • Molecular biology
  • Ecology
  • Genetics

You can look here to see an example degree sequence.

Things to consider

Alternative majors can allow you to enter medical school but also have good job opportunities. In fact, because it can be difficult to get a high GPA in biology, alternative majors can actually be better for medical school because having a high GPA can help a lot.

To get the more desirable jobs, in biology, it is often necessary to get a PhD. If you do choose the major, it would help a lot to consider combining it with a more employable minor in order to improve your job prospects after graduation.

When deciding on whether or not you should major in biology, it would help to consider whether or not you are set on going to graduate school as well and the types of jobs you want. If you are set on going to graduate school and you want a job that will require a master’s or PhD then a biology major would become more worthwhile.

Details about a computer science major

Below are some details about a major in computer science.

Current pay

According to Payscale, the average salary of a person with a bachelor’s degree in computer science is $85,235. This makes computer science one of the best paying degrees available right now. With that being said, some of these salaries may be slightly inflated since a lot of computer science jobs are in very high cost of living areas such as San Francisco.

Many of the alternative degrees to computer science, such as statistics or applied math, will also have high average salaries. However, not only is computer science one of the best-paying degrees, but it also puts you in a good position with just a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, many of the alternatives require a master’s degree to be competitive when seeking a job.

Also, many people that get alternative degrees to CS actually end up finding themselves in CS type roles. For example, it is not uncommon for applied mathematics or statistics majors to find themselves working in programming roles after graduating. This is why computer science can also be a very good minor.

Types of jobs the degree will qualify you for

There are many different types of jobs that a computer science degree will open you up to. These can include:

  • Software engineer
  • Database administrator
  • Data scientist
  • Machine learning engineer
  • App developer
  • Web developer
  • Computer systems administrator

Most CS majors will end up taking jobs as a software engineer which is one of the highest-rated jobs available. When interviewing for these roles, you will be tested mainly on algorithms and data structures that you’ll learn about during your time in the major. Make sure to be very comfortable with algorithms and data structures when interviewing.

Data science is another career that is becoming popular among CS majors. If you want to get a job in data science, it would help to take classes in data analysis and machine learning, to learn Python programming, and to complete data science projects. A CS degree combined with classes relevant to data science should put you in a good position to get data science and software engineering jobs.

It would also help to try to get internships during the summer since that will also help you a lot in getting into big tech companies that have very high salaries.

How difficult it is as a major

Computer science can have some difficult classes. Most CS degrees will require you to take calculus 1,2, and 3; linear algebra; and discrete mathematics as well as a number of computer science classes that can be difficult.

Types of classes you will study

Some classes that you can expect to take include:

Programming
Data structures
Algorithms
Assembly language
Databases
Computer architecture
Computer networks

You can also expect to take some mathematics classes including:

Linear algebra
Discrete math
Calculus

If your university does not require that you take those math classes, I would strongly recommend that you take them as electives. This is because they are key classes for machine learning and, if you want to go to grad school, they will be important classes to have on your transcript.

Some classes that you might have the choice of taking could also include

Machine learning
Artificial intelligence
Computer graphics
Computer networks

Important things to be aware of when taking the degree

Before you start taking the degree, it would be very important to consider what you think you would like to do with the degree. By doing so you will be able to optimize your classes to be suited towards what you want to do after graduation.

If your goal is to get into data science or machine learning type roles, it would be important to make sure to take machine learning classes, to do machine learning projects, to take classes in data analysis and to take some statistics classes. It would also be important to make sure to take calculus and linear algebra as a freshman or sophomore if they are not required in your major.

Whereas, if your goal is to get a job as a software engineer, it would be more important to take classes that focus on algorithms and systems architecture type classes.

If you think that you want to go to grad school, it would be important to take up research opportunities and to take classes related to what you think you would like to research as a grad student. It would also be important to look at what classes graduate schools want to see when accepting CS master’s applicants.

More details about the computer science major

I have written more about the computer science major here and I have written more about how hard you can expect the major to be here

Reasons to choose computer science

As mentioned above, computer science is a major that can qualify you for jobs that pay well and have strong predicted job growth, with just a bachelor’s degree. Since there are also a lot of potential jobs that can also be done remotely, it is also likely that you will be able to find a job in an area you want. However, to be competitive, it will still be important to complete software engineering projects and to try to get internships.

Also, computer science can be interesting at the graduate level where you could be researching in areas of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Reasons to choose biology

While a biology major will not give job prospects that are as good as computer science, there are still some reasons why you might want to get a biology degree.

The first reason is if you want to get a job that requires a master’s or doctoral degree in biology. If you do, then a bachelor’s degree in biology would be more worthwhile.

Also, if you have a very strong interest in the subject, it would also make it more worthwhile for you to major in biology. However, it would also help to minor in something that is employable at the bachelor’s degree level.

Author

I created and currently manage College Corner. I received a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. My goal is to help current students do better in college and to help future students plan for college. You can read more about me and my website here.