Ethology Graduate Programs

Ethologists study how animals communicate, learn and socialize. Find out what graduate programs are available in this field and specializations within them, what courses you will study, as well as career options in this field. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Ethology Graduate Programs Are Available?

You can find ethology graduate programs available at the master's and doctoral levels, with a variety of variations at both levels. Though rarely offered as a degree field on its own, you may find ethology coupled with a related field, such as evolutionary psychology or the broader zoology. At some schools, ethology specializations or coursework are offered within animal behavior degree programs. In other cases, you can take coursework in ethology while pursuing a graduate degree in animal biology. You can find graduate ethology programs offered through on-campus study; online programs are not typically available.

Graduate ProgramsMaster's, Ph.D.
PrerequisitesBachelor's or master's degree
CoursesStatistics, biology, psychology, research
Career OptionsField research, laboratory research, zoos, academia

Are There Any Prerequisites?

Most graduate programs in ethology or fields related to ethology require that you have some form of relevant prior education in the field. Master's degree programs commonly require you to possess a bachelor's degree. While an undergraduate field such as zoology may be helpful, it isn't necessarily required. Prerequisite coursework, regardless of your undergraduate field, may include biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physics and calculus.

Admission to a doctoral program often involves completion of a master's degree, though you may gain entry with a bachelor's degree if you have strong credentials. Beyond the coursework required for entrance into a master's degree program, doctoral programs often require a background in animal behavior, evolution or genetics. You may also need to demonstrate your capacity for advanced research and writing through the submission of writing samples.

What Will I Study?

When you study ethology at the graduate level, you may take courses that expand your overall knowledge of the field, though most programs encourage you to specialize your studies in a particular sub-field. For example, you may focus on a particular species of group of animals, or you may look for patterns in a type of behavior across several types of animals. In general, you'll learn about and practice employing scientific methods for studying and analyzing animal behavior. This may include coursework in statistics, psychology and biology.

Doctoral degree programs may involve more independent research, which may take place in the lab or in the field. You may also participate in student teaching, which is intended to provide you with career preparation, should you decide to work at a college or university. Most doctoral programs culminate with you writing and defending a dissertation.

What Are My Career Options?

As an ethologist, you may work in several types of environments. These include field research, laboratory research, zoos or academia. If you work in the field, you may spend extended periods of time in rural or isolated locations, studying and documenting animal behavior. Lab work can include a variety of options, such as pharmaceutical testing that involves animal test subjects. Note that a doctoral degree is commonly required for teaching positions in post-secondary education.

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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