Animal Biology Degree and Career Facts

Animal biology is more commonly known as zoology. Read on to learn how to enter the field and what professional opportunities you might pursue. Review undergraduate and graduate degree programs, coursework and school options. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Because the field of animal biology is a versatile subject, numerous career opportunities are available by completing a degree program. Depending on your area of interest, you may choose to work in areas like marine biology, wildlife biology, zoology, or veterinary medicine. These programs typically require you to spend time in a lab setting and conduct fieldwork.

Degree Options Bachelor Science in Animal Science or Zoology; Master of Animal Science, Master of Science in Animal Biology, Animal Science or Zoology; Ph.D. in Animal Science or Zoology
Courses Equine science, physiology of domestic animals, reproductive physiology, genetics and animal breeding, animal behavior, invertebrate biology, biology of mammals
Average Salary* $66,250 for zoologists and wildlife biologists as of May 2017

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Animal Biology Degree Programs are Available?

As an undergraduate student, you can enroll in a bachelor's degree program in zoology or animal science where you might have the opportunity to study one of a variety of concentrations. Graduate programs are available at the master's and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) level in animal biology, animal science and zoology, and you commonly have the opportunity to engage in more in-depth research at those levels.

Master's degree programs are sometimes available without a required thesis, and you might prefer this option if you're interested in a non-research-based career. If you're interested in research, you may consider a master's degree program requiring a thesis or a Ph.D. program.

What Will I Study as an Undergraduate?

At the undergraduate level, you can expect to take general education courses in mathematics and the humanities, as well as the fundamentals of biology. You may have an opportunity to specialize in one of many areas, such as general zoology, animal behavior, evolutionary biology or zoo and aquarium science. These topics might be covered in your undergraduate degree program:

  • Organic chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Evolution
  • Genetics
  • Neurobiology
  • Marine biology
  • Developmental biology

What About Graduate Coursework?

Through a master's degree or Ph.D. program, you may expand in your specialization while incorporating additional subjects related to animal biology. While a thesis is not always required, master's degree programs are typically research intensive in your area of concentration. These topics may be explored in your master's degree program:

  • Conservation
  • Physiology
  • Animal molecular biology
  • Ecosystems of animals

Ph.D. programs may lack a common curriculum and will instead allow you to develop your own plan of study based on your professional and academic interests. Much of your time at this level will be spent developing and composing a doctoral dissertation.

What Careers Can I Pursue?

With a bachelor's degree, you may be qualified to enter the field in roles like medical technician or laboratory technician, and you can also be prepared to enroll in medical, dental and veterinary programs.

Undergraduate and graduate degree programs in animal biology can lead to careers in wildlife rehabilitation, environmental consultation, marine biology or conservation. Graduate programs can lead to high-level research positions, as well as animal observation, care or management positions at zoos and aquariums. Through completion of a graduate program, you may also be qualified to work academically as a teacher or professor of animal biology.

How Can I Choose a School?

Due to the various concentrations available in the field of zoology and animal science, you should narrow your goals and review the available academic paths available in a prospective school before selecting a program. You may also consider the research facilities and local wildlife environments available to you through potential schools. For example, a coastal school may be a good choice if you're interested in marine biology.

Distance education options may be available in some cases if you have personal or professional obligations. Internships in your chosen field of zoology could lend real-world experience to your academic knowledge in techniques involved in research, observation, advocacy and regulation. You may also use internships to develop professional connections in your chosen field.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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