Your Complete Guide to

Online Science Degrees

The best programs, benefits, list of universities, rankings, FAQs and everything you ever wanted to know.
Grant Aldrich on March 14, 2023

So, you’ve decided to go back to college to earn your degree. That is an excellent decision! A Business Insider analysis of US Census data found that college graduates earn more than non-college graduates. And not by a little but by a lot!

Deciding to go back to school is a great first step to improving your financial security. But now the question is, what degree should you pursue? You might be interested to know that getting a science degree can set you on a rewarding and lucrative career path.

Think about all of the things you appreciate and maybe even take for granted in your everyday life. From new technologies to medicine to building structures and controlling climate change, science is the backbone of our very society. And when you are a part of the “backbone” workforce, your skills will always be in demand!

Pursuing a science degree is quite a wholesome experience because of the skills and knowledge it offers. Professionals with a degree in science are critical thinkers and problem solvers, making them valuable across industries.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about earning a science degree. We’ll discuss the best science degrees that offer the biggest career potential, compare online programs with traditional programs, and take a look at the differences between Associates, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees.

And we’re not going to end there. We’ll also share some tips with you that will help you save a lot of time and money toward earning your degree. So be sure to read this ENTIRE article.

Let’s get started…

8 Best Online Science Degrees

Before we list the online science degrees we feel offer the best career outcomes, let’s talk about WHY we believe these degrees are the best.

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Financial Security

As we just mentioned, without science there is no society. Science is so incredibly important to HOW we live, that there will never be a shortage of demand for those graduates with certain skills. Even in slow economies or downright recessions, individuals with a science degree will experience financial security. This is particularly important because some of these skills and knowledge are the driving forces behind innovation and progress in the economy, across sectors and industries. Hence, it is safe to say science degrees are believed to lead to some of the high paying jobs.

Perfect for Those Needing a Career Change

Are you an adult who has been part of the workforce for a while? Do you desire to make a career change so you can earn even more for your family? The following online science degrees are great for those looking to make a career change. The versatile skills gained from a formal education in science can open doors in many industries, across sectors. This directly translates into opportunities for future growth.

Flexible and Affordable

We’ve decided to focus on those science degrees that can be earned online because they allow busy working adults the opportunity to make a positive change in their lives. An online program will allow you to study at your own pace and during those hours that are convenient for YOU. And typically speaking, online programs cost a fraction of what you would pay at a traditional college, and for the same information. Plus we’re going to tell you how you can save eve more!

Now that you know why we chose the online science degrees we did, let’s dive in:

Environmental Science

Are you someone that has a concern over global warming? Have you always had an interest in finding solutions for renewable energy or designing green buildings? If so, you may enjoy a career based in environmental science.

Environmental science is one of those fields where working can be personally rewarding besides the field increasingly becoming professionally rewarding as well. You go by every day knowing your work is bringing a positive impact on the natural world and as a result on our societies.

In an environmental science program, you’ll learn about all of the potential natural and social factors that can tax and alter the environment. You’ll take exciting courses such as Environmental Science, Environmental Conservation, Environmental Geology, Renewable Energy, Climatology, Urban Ecosystems and more.

Graduates will understand subjects like the economics of the oil industry, sociological factors that lead to littering and polluting, as well as the myriad climates and landscapes that make up our world. This information will help you choose from a variety of exciting career paths.

Possible Career Choices

Upon graduation, students will have unique and comprehensive knowledge of environmental challenges. Their degree will help them get a job in a variety of settings including environmental education, advocacy, conservation, construction, and engineering, among others.

Some of the job titles that this degree can help you achieve are:

  • Educator
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Zoologist
  • Hydrologist
  • Environmental Engineer

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of environmental engineers is expected to grow 4% of the next decade. This will be due in large part to state and local governments’ concerns about clean water and energy efficiency.

Also according to the BLS, the median annual wage for environmental engineers was $96,820 in May 2021, with the highest 10% earning more than $153,200.


As more and more people have become aware of how diet directly impacts health, the demand for qualified nutritionists has skyrocketed. A career as a nutritionist is incredibly rewarding because you are able to help patients choose the proper foods to eat so they can prevent disease.

The job of a nutritionist is so much more than just someone who helps people make food choices, rather these professionals become educators, advocating for a more healthy living through engagement programs in schools or businesses, educating people on the importance of healthy eating and prevention of health crisis.

A bachelor of science in nutrition is required for those who wish to have a career as a registered nutritionist or dietician. In addition to taking general education courses, you will also take nutrition theory and get a hands-on look at how it works in practice when dealing with patients. This degree will also prepare you for educating the community about the importance of good eating habits and the relationship between food, culture, and disease.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, the employment of nutritionists is projected to grow 7% between 2021 and 2031, which is far faster than average for all occupations. This is largely thanks to the promotion of good nutrition as it relates to health and wellness. Also, obesity is now a global epidemic. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that nearly one-third of American adults are obese. These statistics have caused an increased demand for nutritionists who can help patients lose and maintain a healthy weight.

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for nutritionists was $61,650 in May 2021, with the highest 10% earning more than $93,640.


If you have always had a fascination with this big spinning ball we all find ourselves on, then a degree in geoscience may be the perfect fit! Geoscience is the study of the earth and students will learn all about geology, geography, and earth science.

These three disciplines at one time were studied independently, but more colleges and universities have packaged these interrelated physical sciences together under a single canopy of geosciences.

Geoscientists work with data, day in and day out. For this purpose, students pursuing geoscience programs are rigorously trained to be critical thinkers and equipped with the ability to analyze statistical data.

You will take exciting courses in geology, geochemistry, geophysics, hydrology, environmental science, chemistry, biology, and math. You will also learn about GIS and other specialized computer analysis techniques.

What Can You Do with This Degree?

Graduates of geoscience programs are positioned to influence the world from a dynamic perspective as a geoscientist. You may find work as environmental geologists, hydrologists, geographic information systems (GIS) analysts, remote sensing specialists, petroleum geologists, and educators.

When it comes to potential salaries, the BLS reports the median annual income for geoscientists across all tracked specializations (excluding hydrologists and geographers) was nearly $83,680 in 2021. They also project job growth in the area of geoscience (again exempting hydrologists and geographers) will increase 5% by 2031, which is far faster than all other occupations.

Here are some job titles to give you an idea of the kind of career this degree can help you obtain:

  • Atmospheric Scientist
  • Environmental Compliance Inspector
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Environmental Protection Technician
  • Geographer
  • Geophysical Data Technician
  • Hydrologist
  • Natural Sciences Manager
  • Seismologist

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Information Technology

Modern businesses rely on complex technologies including cloud storage solutions and data centers. These technologies require developers and engineers to build them, as well as managers to oversee management and implementation.

Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in information technology will provide you with everything you need to know to land an IT job. You will gain a thorough understanding of all of the different systems and technologies that have been combined to create software, website, services and systems. You’ll not only learn to program software using the many programming languages, you’ll also learn how to analyze systems to gauge functionality and security and test and validate systems prior to release.

Some of the exciting classes you can expect to take are:

  • Fundamentals of Database Systems
  • Structured Query Language for Data Management
  • Computer Security
  • Fundamentals of Networking
  • Systems Analysis, Design and Integration
  • Information Technology Architectures
  • Unix Fundamentals
  • Introduction to Programming Logic

What Does the Future Hold with This Degree?

Once you have obtained your bachelor’s of science in information technology, you can choose to begin graduate coursework, or hit the pavement and land your dream job. This degree will help graduates take entry-level roles as programmers, web developers, systems administrators or database admins. Some graduates may eventually decide to start their own company selling their own software or other technology solutions.

Since all industries now rely on technology, the sky is the limit for graduates as far as where they choose to work. And the salaries are something to smile about.

Take for instance a graduate pursuing a career as a health IT specialist. According to the BLS, employment of these professionals is projected to grow 11% between 2018 and 2028, which is far faster that the average growth for all occupations.

The BLS also reports that the annual wage for health IT technicians was $42,630 in May 2019, with the highest 10% earning more than $71,150.

Health Sciences

Thanks to an aging baby boomer population, there is an increased demand for a broad range of occupations and specializations within the healthcare industry. A degree in health science will help you take advantage of these abundant opportunities.

Health sciences refers to a large group of disciplines related to the delivery of healthcare through the application of science, engineering, math and technology. The really awesome thing about this degree is, not only will you be able to take what you learn and profoundly impact people’s lives, but as the branches of health science are virtually endless, you’ll have your choice of working in traditional Western medicine or alternative medicine practices and modalities.

Students of this program will take exciting courses such as epidemiology, sociology and psychology, and nutrition and exercise science. Some programs also call for public health classes.

What Kind of Career Can You Have?

Graduates holding this degree will be eligible for a wide range of career paths. Here is just a small sampling of potential job titles:

  • Behavior analyst
  • Hearing aid specialist
  • Health educator
  • Mental health counselor
  • Patient care advocate
  • Pharmacy sales representative
  • Physical or occupational therapist (May require certification for licensing)
  • Registered diagnostic medical sonographer
  • Registered radiologic technologist (May require certification for licensing)
  • Research assistant or associate
  • Registered dietitian

According to PayScale, the average salary for a U.S. worker with a bachelor’s degree in health science is $63,000. Not too shabby!


To grasp what the nature of reality is, most of us turn to physicists. These scientists have studied matter and energy and have come to understand the structure of atoms as well as the properties of things like electricity, radiation, and sound.

Students pursuing this degree will take science- and math-intensive courses in subjects like biophysics, cosmology, relativity, lasers, and nuclear physics, among others. Lasers? How exciting is that!

Many students will also choose to study the universe through subdisciplines like astronomy, cosmology, and string theory.

What Kind of Career Can You Have with this Degree?

A physics degree can prepare you for an exciting career. Whether you end up as a physics teacher, an engineer, or working as an astrophysicist for NASA, the sky is (almost literally) the limit with this degree.

Here are just some of the fields graduates may choose to go into:

  • Mechanical engineering
  • Climatology
  • Meteorology
  • Aeronautics
  • Military development
  • Public research

When paired with a secondary degree, a degree in physics could also help prepare you for a career in business, healthcare administration, information technology, and more.

Since there is such a broad range of careers associated with this degree, it’s impossible to list an overall median annual wage. What we can tell you is that according to the BLS, the median physics salary is $151,580. But that’s specifically for people who work as physicists.

Associate of Science in Nursing

Have you always wanted to help people for a living? If you or a loved one have ever spent time in a hospital, you know that the majority of care and compassion you receive is from the nurses who work tirelessly on their patients’ behalf.

In an associate of nursing program, students learn emergency care procedures as well as the legal requirements for medical personnel. Classroom work is generally combined with clinical practice, giving students much-needed hands-on experience using medical equipment.

In addition to learning nursing fundamentals, students will also cover topics such as:

  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Psychology introduction
  • Nursing pharmacology

Graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed as registered nurses.

Job Outlook & Salary

Once you have graduated and passed the NCLEX-RN, you will be able to choose whether to join the workforce or continue your education to specialize in one of several areas such as surgery, pediatrics or mental health.

The BLS reports that job opportunities for RNs were expected to increase by 6% between 2021 and 2031, which is much faster than average. RNs earned a median annual average salary of $77,600as of May 2021.

Civil Engineering

Every day we use structures and systems that have been developed by civil engineers. From roads and bridges to buildings and irrigation systems, civil engineers build the world around us, selecting raw materials and ensuring public safety.

Over the years, Civil engineering has grown into a field with plenty of specialisations, giving young students the chance to experiment and find their passion in the field. Similarly, once graduated with the degree, professionals find themselves with many opportunities, from construction to transportation and now increasingly environmental conservation.

Students will begin their program by taking advanced science courses, eventually moving into more specialized education, learning about construction engineering, environmental and water systems, geotechnical systems, structural systems, and transportation systems in great detail. Here are some of the exciting courses you will take in a bachelor’s of civil engineering program:

  • Engineering Drawing
  • AutoCAD
  • Structural Mechanics
  • Differential Equations
  • Construction Materials
  • Structural Analysis
  • Engineering Systems
  • Geotechnical Engineering

The Future Looks Bright

If you’re wondering what kind of career you can have with this degree, you have plenty of paths to choose from! While becoming a civil engineer is the most obvious path to take, there are other paths graduates can pursue.

For instance, some graduates decide to go into urban planning, while other choose construction management. Still others will work for architectural firms or go into structural engineering.

According to the BLS, employment of civil engineers is projected to grow 7% over the coming decade. A growing population will always require new structures to be built and maintained.

The BLS also reports that the median annual wage for civil engineers was $88,050 in May 2021, with the highest 10% earning more than $133,320.

Online Vs Traditional Campus Science Degrees

As you have noticed, we have chosen to focus on those science degrees that can be earned online. You may be wondering what makes an online degree superior to a traditional degree.

Well, while the knowledge and skills will be the same, there are three reasons earning your degree online makes a lot of sense, particularly if you are a busy, working adult.

1. Flexibility

When you learn online, you study at your own pace and during those times that are convenient for you. Never miss your child’s soccer game or recital because of a class. Study when and where YOU want. Online learning is well suited for education in civil engineering which is good news for students who find themselves mired in various responsibilities and look for flexibility in their schedules to balance higher education with professional and family commitments.

2. Affordability

Typically speaking, online programs cost just a fraction of what traditional tuition costs. In addition to these initial savings, you also don’t have to spend money on the cost of room and board. And as an added bonus, you can continue to work while you learn. Therefore, online education in civil engineering ends up being quite affordable for the students, helping avoid the many costs that come with attending traditional on-campus education. Online programs also help students continue to earn money with little disturbance.

3. Career Advancement

Many people nowadays choose to earn their degree online because they are already working in a specific field. Online learning makes it far easier for these people to add value and advance their careers.

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Benefits of a Science Degree

Still wondering if a degree in science is right for you? Here are just some of the many benefits of obtaining a science degree.

Career Variety

If you’ve read this far, you know just how wide open the field is when it comes to choosing your career path. From nursing to engineering to information technology and climate control, the number of potential career paths is staggering.

Job stability

As we mentioned, science is at the very foundation of our society. Everything we see around us, everything we use on a day-to-day basis all started with someone with a science degree. This means the skills and knowledge you obtain will make you someone who is always in demand.

You Can Work Anywhere

Nurses, engineers, teachers, IT specialists, these are job titles that are needed all over the country. Heck, all over the world. If you are looking for work that could take you far and wide, then we definitely recommend you consider pursuing a degree in science.

An education in science can give you the understanding and abilities you need to be a dynamic candidate that is well equipped in some of the most essential skills needed to not just land a job but also advance in careers. Some professionals also find opportunities that provide travel and exposure, which again helps develop diversity and is just simply fun to experience!

Cost and Tuition of Obtaining a Science Degree

The cost of higher education is a significant financial challenge for the majority of Americans. Sadly, many prospective adult students forgo higher education and pursuing their dream because they can’t afford it.

The truth is, there are plenty of ways you can save time and money on earning your degree.

Read our article on 5 ways you can save on college tuition, and also use our free Smartplan to find ways to save at various schools across the country by taking advantage of free courses, discounts and more. In fact, that’s why we created so that everyone could have access to an affordable education.

Choosing the Right Type of Science Degree

If you’ve read this far, you might already be starting to think that a science degree is the right choice for you. Now it’s time to think about what TYPE of degree best aligns with your career goals.

Let’s take a look the degrees available to you:

Associate’s Degree in Science 

An associate’s degree is typically a two-year degree obtained through a vocation school or community college, though there are online associate’s degrees as well. While many employers these days look for candidates that have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree, there are rewarding careers that you can begin with an associate of science degree.

Here is a list of well-paying associate science degree jobs (according to the BLS):

  • Dental Hygienist: $77,810
  • Paralegal and Legal Assistant: $56,230
  • Architectural Drafter: $60,340
  • Cardiovascular Technologist: $60,570
  • Web Developer: $77,030
  • Occupational Therapy Assistant: $61,520
  • Radiologic Technologist: $61,370
  • Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technician: $73,580
  • Geological and Petroleum Technician: $48,310
  • Funeral Service Manager: $58,900

This means you can begin working in your chosen field, start earning, and still complete your 4-year degree at a later time.

Bachelor’s Degree in Science

Most of the degrees we’ve covered in this article are bachelor’s degrees, which traditionally take 4 years to complete, though there are ways you can shave some time off your studies. As we mentioned, many employers like candidates who have earned at least their bachelors because it shows them you have put in the time and effort to obtain valuable knowledge and skills. In other words, getting your bachelor’s in one of these bachelor’s degrees definitely helps you stand out from the crowd.

Master’s Degree in Science 

Once you’ve obtained your bachelor’s degree, you may decide to continue your education and obtain your master’s degree. These programs typically require another two to four years of coursework.

Those individuals with a Master’s degree are considered experts in their field. They generally have a lot more career advancement opportunities as well as some of the highest salaries in the industry. If you have your eye on one day holding a leadership position or would like to teach, you’ll definitely want to continue on with your education.

Doctorate Degree

Doctorate degrees tend to put a lot of emphasis on research, helping graduates take a deep dive into their chosen specialties. If you are looking to earn the highest salary possible, are drawn to research, or hope to be part of the science faculty of a college or university one day, then you’ll definitely want to consider earning your doctorate degree.

Choosing the Correct University or College for Science

So, you’ve got a good idea of the area of science you’d like to study and now you have a grasp on what type of degree will help you reach your career goals, it’s time to think about selecting the right school.

Here are a few things we think are hugely important for adult students. Look for a university with:

  • Online Programs
  • $0 application fees
  • No required SAT/ACT testing
  • Faculty and professors that understand adult students’ needs
  • Discounts or scholarships
  • Convenient enrollment dates year-round (so you don’t have to wait for Spring or Fall)
  • Accreditation

Finding adult-friendly schools that match these can certainly be challenging!

BUT that’s why we created our Smartplan.

We realize that every student has unique circumstances and goals. When you use our Smartplan, we could help you find the right school you’re looking for AND has these crucial criteria to make pursuing your degree that much easier.

Register today to get your free Smartplan and compare different colleges! >>

Salary Data for Science Professionals

Let’s take one more look at some of the potential careers you can have with these degrees and what your earning potential might be:

Biochemist or Biophysicist: $102,270

Chemist: $79,760

Conservationist: $63,750

Environmental Scientist: $76,530

Environmental Science and Protection Technician: $47,370

Forensic Scientist: $58,230

Geoscientist: $83,680

Hydrologist: $84,030

Medical Scientist: $95,310

(Sources:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2021, and Occupational Employment Statistics, 2021.)


Q: How long will it take me to earn my degree?

A: Well that really depends on the type of degree you choose to pursue. As you saw, an associate degree can be earned in just 2 years, a bachelor’s in 4, and add onto that for a master’s and doctorate. The goods news is, often, you can accelerate your studies when learning online. Remember, the pace is entirely up to you. Second, you can certainly start with an associate degree or bachelor’s degree to get your foot in the door, and then continue your education should you choose.

Q: What Can I Do with a Science Degree?

Plenty! What’s exciting is the sheer number of opportunities that await graduates with a science degree.

Q: Will I be able to continue working while taking classes?

A: Yes! That’s one of the biggest benefits of earning your science degree online. Not only can you study when is most convenient for you, but you can also keep working as well.

How to Get Started

Wow, we’ve just covered a LOT of information. You may be wondering what you should do next.

We highly recommend you take a few moments to use’s Smartplan to find the right school that offers all of the criteria you’re looking for.   We’ve provided this helpful and free tool for you to help you make the right decision, and find ways that could end up saving you THOUSANDS of dollars toward your business degree!

Register today for free >>

About the Author
Grant Aldrich
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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