Biology is a popular subject to study, especially in Canada, home to some of the top institutions for science research. If you have a love for living things, the country has plenty of unique ecosystems to experience, from the coastal regions of British Columbia to the vast tundras of the far North. 

From a practical perspective, studying biology can lead to a number of fascinating career pathways in Canada's highly developed economy. A background in biology can lead you to a variety of professions that thrive in the country: teaching, medicine, conservation, and pharmaceuticals, just to name a few.

In this post we are going to list some of the best options for studying biology across the country, whether you are a high school student, an undergraduate looking for some help with exam prep, or an adult learner going back for continuing education. Thanks to the high quality of education offered in Canada, you’ll definitely get the knowledge and credentials you need to succeed.

But first, let’s have a look at some reasons why you might want to get into Biology in the first place and how you might go about selecting the best learning options.

Learn more about taking biology classes in Toronto!

Biology is Challenging and Fun

Canada is biologically diverse.
Study biology surrounded by Canada's vast ecosystems. Source: Unsplash

Biology is a subject that is surprisingly broad and diverse, encompassing vast ecosystems of plant, animal, and microorganisms. It focuses on life at the cellular level, and how they interact and develop. Extensive and endlessly fascinating, Biology is both a worthwhile academic pursuit as well as an interest that can be pursued recreationally by students of all ages. Given the issue of climate change and environmental destruction, studying biology is more important than ever.

Most students start learning basic Biology in elementary school, starting with ecosystems and cell composition. Perhaps it is the fun of building a cell model with clay or drawing out the food chain in a boreal forest, but thousands of Canadian students eventually take the challenge of pursuing studies in Biology in university. 

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Once you get to post-secondary studies, Biology branches out into a variety of topics. It covers areas like conservation biology, the mechanisms put in place to protect ecosystems, and molecular biology, the study of the tiniest matter that compose life on Earth.

Younger students and science enthusiasts find Biology educational as well as entertaining. There are fewer things more fascinating than watching sharks, jellyfish, and other deep sea creatures co-exist in spectacular aquariums like Ripley’s in downtown Toronto. Science Centres across Canada host workshops and exhibits that help youngsters understand the complexity and fragility of the natural world.

Selecting the Right Biology Course

Study biology in a Canadian university.
Choose the right school based on the learning outcomes you want. Source: Pixabay

Students will not be surprised to find that there are so many options for studying Biology in Canada, due to its popularity and the fact that is a prerequisite for numerous postsecondary programs. From in-class and online secondary school credits, to university classes and private tutoring services, learning options are anywhere and everywhere. 

The main factors to consider are your:

  • Long term learning and career goals
  • Competing priorities 
  • Scheduling needs
  • Personal learning style
  • Quality of school
  • Budget

For example, if you’re an adult student looking to get a secondary school credit for a Dental Hygiene course - and you’re working a full time job to pay the bills - an online credit with a reputable school board will likely be your best option. 

If you’re a full-time university student with financial support, and planning to pursue postgraduate studies in the competitive health sciences, you’ll probably opt for a degree credit at your institution and possibly even a tutor to amp up your efforts. 

Perhaps you are a secondary school student with a habit of procrastinating: an in-class credit with a knowledgeable and experienced teacher might be just what you need to stay accountable to your program.

Interested in learning biology in Vancouver? Read our article.

A final and critical thing to consider is that you trust the school you have chosen and that you are getting the knowledge you need to get to the next step. Having a great teacher is fundamental, because they can make or break the learning experience for you. Check reviews online about the program and the instructor if they are available. Take the time to read course syllabi ahead of time to figure out what the assessments and content are.

While you may have to prioritize budget, work, or family obligations over your dream school or course provider, make sure you take the time to determine if you are committing your time and money to the right institution or services. The last thing you want is to realize you have lost all motivation to pursue a Biology-related career because of a poor learning experience.

Learn more about taking biology classes in Calgary.

Biology Classes in Toronto

Toronto is one of the top cities for studying life sciences. With some of the top research institutions in the country, any prospective student is sure to find a program that’s right for them. From microbiology to environmental biology and beyond - kids, secondary school students, and lifelong learners can find it here.

Biology OSSD Credits

Perhaps you need a biology credit to apply for a postsecondary diploma, degree, or certificate and have been out of school for some time. Getting an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) credit through your local school board or a private institution is an economical and practical way to go as these courses are low cost and easy to access. 

Toronto has plenty of options available through Adult and Continuing Education programs offered through its public school boards and private schools. You can go in person or learn online, and get the prerequisites you need to get into that dental hygiene or environmental studies program. As long as the school is an accredited provider, any postsecondary institution will recognize your credits in your application.

Get a College Diploma or University Degree for your Career

If you see the life sciences in your career goals, getting a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree or a College diploma is the way to go. A BSc from a school like the University of Toronto or York can be the start of an exciting learning pathway in diverse fields that range from cell biology to animal physiology to Bioinformatics. Make sure you have the right courses or academic bridging in place to apply: speak to someone in the admissions department to plan ahead!

Toronto colleges like Sheridan College and George Brown also offer options for students looking to get a certificate or a diploma in the field. At the college level, programs tend to be geared more toward practical applications of biology: you can train for a career as a lab technician, kinesiology, or animal care. 

It’s not uncommon for students to combine programs at both the college and university level: many students actually determine what professional field they will enter after having completed a degree or diploma. If your goal is take graduate degrees at the MSc or PhD levels, a BSc is a certain prerequisite.

Adopt a growth mindset and remember that you may go back to school for training multiple times throughout your career to update your skills, the most important thing is to get started.

Get Your Kids Into Life Science

Do you have a budding scientist in your family? Toronto is full of resources for parents to get their kids into Biology before it becomes an option in Secondary School. Bring them for a day out in the beautiful Bruce Trails of the Niagara Escarpment, where they can learn about local wildlife and explore natural habitats. In a 45 minute drive outside the city, you can explore places like Rattlesnake Point and get your kids thinking about ecosystems.

The Ontario Science Centre in Toronto offers numerous programs, exhibits, and workshops for kids at different ages. You can explore a Canadian or Rainforest inside the centre, learn about the human body, or even catch a show at the Imax theatre. 

You can also find a great selection of science and nature camps at the High Park Nature Centre, located in the city’s West End. There you will find programs for different ages that teach kids about the stewardship of local ecosystems. There are also numerous private organizations like Mad Science that will enrich your child’s science education through after school and lunchtime programs.

Thinking about taking classes in Edmonton? Read our article for more information.

Studying Biology in Montreal

If you’re not a Torontonian, don’t worry. Montreal has incredible options for studying and learning Biology. Whether you are in secondary school or a CEGEP student with University goals, you’ll find some great options in one of Canada’s most historically rich and diverse cities.

Graduate with a Diploma or Degree

Quebec has a unique education system when it comes to postsecondary options: students may attend one of the provinces many CEGEPs to pursue a vocational education or as a prerequisite to university. If you are interested in studying biology at the postsecondary level, Montreal has public and private CEGEPs with science programs that are required for university study. Vanier or Dawson College are two major English speaking CEGEPs with biology programs, but a quick search will reveal all sorts of options for the serious Science student.

Those that want to continue studying Biology for a Bachelors, Masters, or Doctorate degree can find excellent options at Concordia or McGill. Both of these schools offer comprehensive degree programs that prepare students to join the city’s rich ecosystem of scientific research labs and pharmaceutical companies. You’ll also find plenty of schools with French language instruction if that is your preference!

Learn Biology for Fun 

Montreal is a city that loves the sciences and boasts a unique ecosystem thanks to its proximity to the St. Lawrence River. Check out sites like the Montreal Science Centre, the Biosphere, Biodome, or simply explore the city’s Mont Royal for a taste of Montreal’s dedication to environmental awareness.

Being very much a university city, Montreal is also home to dozens of science tutors that can help students score higher on their assessments or simply guide you through a study of nature or personal inquiry. Check out Superprof to find a tutor in your area.

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Top Options for Learning Biology in Vancouver

Vancouver's shorelines are ecologically diverse.
Learn biology on Canada's West coast. Source: Unsplash

Vancouver, another major Canadian city, is an optimal place to study the life sciences. Biology students have the pleasure of learning in a unique coastal region with marine ecosystems, mountain climates, and plenty of parks and greenspaces. Vancouver residents are known for their stewardship of the environment and always look ready to enjoy the great outdoors. If you are after an undergraduate degree or a tutor to guide you through a course in cellular biology or physiology, there are lots of options for you.

Biology in College and University

Vancouver is home to major learning institutions like the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University. Both schools offer plenty for aspiring PhDs, conservationists, doctors, dentists, and entrepreneurs. Find courses in neurobiology, plant molecular biology, toxicology, evolutionary biology, behavioural ecology, and conservation biology.

If you are looking to accelerate your entry into Vancouver’s job market, check out the amazing colleges in Canada’s West coast metropolis. Vancouver colleges offer diploma and certificate programs in areas like biomedicine, dentistry, biotechnology, wildlife, and ecological restoration. Find more by looking up the BCIT, Langara College, and Vancouver Community College.

Biology for High School Credits and Budding Scientists

Of course, to get into any post-secondary program you will need high school credits, so make sure your prerequisites are in order. If your transcript shows you have to get some course work in or need to raise some science grades, you can certainly enrol in adult credit classes with the local school board or find an equivalency with a college. Columbia College is a great school to look into if you need such an option.

If you’re a parent with a budding scientist in the house, make sure you check out the city’s many programs geared toward the younger ones. Not only will you get your kids engaged in learning, but you’ll also be teaching them important lessons about environmental stewardship and ecology. Look up Mad Science or BrainSTEM learning for more, or visit the Pacific Museum of the Earth near UBC.

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Enrol in a Biology Course in Calgary

Calgary is a city in Alberta known for its affinity with Cowboy Culture and proximity to the glorious Banff National Park, but it’s definitely worth considering if you’re looking for a place to learn Biology. The city has colleges and universities with modern, updated facilities as well as world class faculty and staff. 

Take a Diploma or Certificate Program in College

Calgary has a number of college diploma and certificate programs that can lead directly to careers in the environment or the health sciences. To get into any college program, students usually must have a High School Diploma or a General Education Diploma (GED), though some programs will also require applicants to already have post-secondary credits. 

Why consider a college program if you are interested in Biology? College programs are focused on applying scientific knowledge and skills to real world situations, perfect if you already have a science background or are looking to get into the workforce fast. Check out Bow Valley’s website to find programs in biology related fields like nutrition and nursing, or Columbia College for programs in the health sciences.

Complete a Biology Major in University

If a degree suits your ambitions then make sure you check out Calgary’s universities. The University of Calgary has many course pathway options for those looking to get a BSc or complete a graduate program. You will find a range of course options such as ecology, cellular biology, plant biology, zoology, and medical sciences. Calgary’s Mount Royal University is a school that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship. Biology students can enjoy school in a smaller group environment and choose from courses in histology, Animal Behaviour, Neuroscience, and much more.

Tackle Biology in Ottawa

Canada’s capital city also happens to be a great place to study Biology. Surrounded by rich ecosystems and riverfronts, Ottawa also has a community that is protective of its natural surroundings. Whether you are looking to get program prerequisites, aiming for a career in the biomedicine, or have set your sights on a career in environmental science, you can find it all in Ottawa.

The University of Ottawa and Carleton University offer major and minor programs in Biology as well as graduate programs should you decide to take your learning to the next level. Learn topics like land management, conservation and endangered species, disease prevention and management, and stem cell research and genetically modified organisms. Algonquin College, in neighbouring Nepean, has programs in the health sciences and biotechnology if a certificate or diploma suits your goals.

Biology Courses in Edmonton

Edmonton may be known for its cold weather and gigantic shopping mall, but it also happens to be a great place to learn. Alberta’s capital has plenty to offer students of biology, with universities and schools offering world-class programs that reflect the region’s close ties to the energy industry and the environment.

The University of Alberta has a biology major program as well as an emphasis on teacher training aspiring science teachers. Concordia University of Edmonton, MacEwan University, and King’s are also schools with biology programs worth checking out. College bound students can look forward to applying to schools like the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, where options in environmental monitoring assessment, conservation biology, and laboratory research are available to students.

Find a Biology Class in Surrey

Surrey’s coastline, parks, and greenbelt, coupled with its location in beautiful British Columbia are perfect for nature enthusiasts. While Surrey is on a much smaller scale than other major Canadian cities, prospective biology students will find solid options for learning. For those looking to get a high school credit, Surrey’s Adult Education school has in person and online options. Biology scholars can join a BSc program at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus, or Kwantlen Polytechnical University. 

Remote Learning Options

If you can’t decide which city you’d like to study in you can feel confident knowing that there exists plenty of remote learning options that enable you to learn from the comfort of your own home. Massive Open Online Courses, for example, provide a free or cheap way to take biology courses from schools like MIT or even Harvard. While you won’t earn a degree, you can have the experience of learning with some of the world’s top faculty. 

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Colleen is a Toronto-based educator, mom and freelance writer who believes in lifelong learning and strong coffee.