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Animal Studies Courses and Degrees

Topics covered in animal studies courses include animal behavior and human-animal interaction. Many undergraduate and graduate degree programs in animal studies are available at accredited schools. Learn more about the coursework in an animal studies program, and explore job options in the field.

What You Need to Know

Animals studies is a relatively new interdisciplinary field that is emerging in academia. Individuals who pursue this program might explore the various dimensions of human and animal interactions. As a student in this discipline, you'll primarily examine the ethical, social, political and ecological implications of the human-animal relationship.

Degrees Bachelor's or minor; graduate specializations; master's or Ph.D.
Certificates Graduate certificates are available at some schools
Courses Primate behavior, zoology, ecology, animal law, animal welfare and others

What Will I Learn from an Animal Studies Program?

You will study animals through the lenses of many different academic fields including anthropology, English, philosophy, psychology and sociology. You might learn about the politics of animal rights, how people in the past or in other cultures have understood and represented animals or the distinction between humans and other animals. Some of the courses you might take at the undergraduate level include the following:

  • Animals in art and media
  • Comparative psychology
  • Ecology
  • Primate behavior
  • Primate conservation
  • Zoology

As a graduate student, you might take animal studies courses covering animal law, animal welfare and graduate research. A graduate thesis and a course discussing special topics in animal studies are often required. Consider these additional course topics for a graduate degree program:

  • Animal biology
  • Animal welfare
  • Biology systems
  • Nutrition energetics
  • Animal genetics
  • Stress physiology

What Undergraduate Degrees Can I Earn?

Various options may exist for undergraduate degree programs in animal studies. Some may include the bachelor's degree level either as an independent major or as a minor in an arts, sciences or humanities degree program. You may find a Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences with areas of emphasis such as Animal Care and Management or Sciences/Pre-Professional. A Bachelor of Science in Animal Studies is also a potential option.

What About Graduate Degrees?

Master's degree programs are limited, but animal studies may be included as an elective or specialization in a major like sociology. Closely related majors, such as animal behavior and animal biology, are available at the master's and doctoral levels. Some schools offer a graduate certificate in animal studies topics, such as treating animal abuse. A Master of Science in Animal Science may be available in addition to a Master of Science or a Doctor of Philosophy in Animal Biology. A Doctor of Philosophy in Animal Behavior could be available. Doctoral fellowships are available in animal studies.

What Careers will Animal Studies Prepare Me for?

The interdisciplinary nature of animal studies means it prepares you for a wide variety of careers. You might choose to work for an animal advocacy group or as an animal caregiver. You could also work in public service or in education. Your career options will be shaped by the disciplines you choose to study within animal studies.