Degrees in Zoology
Zoology degree programs are offered at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Read on to find out what you can learn in these different types of degree programs and the jobs you qualify for according to the level of education you've obtained.
What Types of Zoology Degrees Are Available to Me?
Degrees in zoology are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level. At the undergraduate level, you can pursue a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Zoology. The requirements for these two degrees are generally similar, but a B.S. may require more coursework in the physical sciences and the selection of a specialization. A B.A. degree in zoology may require more general electives. At the graduate level, you can pursue a Master of Science (M.S.) in Zoology or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Zoology.
Some community colleges offer associate's degree programs designed to transfer to a bachelor's degree in zoology; however, these programs generally lead to an associate's degree in biology rather than zoology. You typically need to complete an on-campus program to earn your zoology degree due to a heavy concentration of lab courses and the complexity of the required math and science courses. However, a few schools do occasionally offer some zoology courses online.
|Degree Levels||Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs are available|
|Common Courses||Ecology, statistics, genetics, biology, calculus|
|Possible Careers||Zoo animal caretaker or trainer, wildlife biologist, zoologist|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$63,420 (for zoologists and wildlife biologists)|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||8% (for zoologists and wildlife biologists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Will I Study?
In addition to general education requirements, a bachelor's degree in zoology typically requires at least one math course, which might include calculus, statistics or computer science. The rest of your curriculum will include courses in the physical sciences, introductory biology, ecology and genetics. You will also typically choose from a variety of zoology electives and may be required to complete a senior seminar. Many of your science courses will be heavily focused on laboratory work.
Master's and doctoral degree programs also require science and math courses, but they are typically more research-based than an undergraduate program. As a graduate student, you'll likely be required to select a specialization, which might include genetics or microbiology. Master's degree programs generally require you to complete a thesis, while doctoral programs require a dissertation; both are based on original research in the field. A final oral exam may also be required. Some Ph.D. programs help you prepare for postsecondary teaching through teaching assistantships and mentorships.
What Will My Degree Prepare Me For?
A bachelor's degree in zoology can prepare you to work in research laboratories or environmental firms. You might also qualify to work at a zoo, as an animal caretaker or trainer. Some students pursue an undergraduate degree in zoology in preparation for graduate studies. You might pursue a graduate degree in zoology, wildlife biology or a related area, but a degree in zoology can also prepare you for graduate programs in professional fields like medicine and dentistry.
A Ph.D. in Zoology can prepare you to become a zoologist or wildlife biologist; this involves performing independent research related to animals and their behaviors. You might conduct some of your research outdoors in the animals' natural habitat, but much of your work will likely be done in a laboratory. A Ph.D. can also qualify you to work in academia. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), zoologists and wildlife biologists earned a mean annual salary of $63,420 in 2018 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also notes that employment in this field is expected to grow at an average rate of eight percent between 2016 and 2026.