Ethology Majors

With a degree in ethology, you'll use psychological and scientific approaches to study the behavior of animals and how they respond to their environment. Learn about ethology majors, coursework and career options. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Ethology Major Entail?

Ethology is the science of how animals behave and interact with one another. Bachelor's degrees in this field are more commonly awarded in animal behavior, and you can pursue either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.). If you pursue a B.S., your curriculum will likely have more natural science courses, while a B.A. may require more coursework in the humanities.

As an animal behavior major, you'll explore how biology and psychology are combined to predict and study animal behavior. You may study certain animal behaviors, such as mating, communication, feeding, emotional response and herd organization. You'll acquire in-depth knowledge of the animal learning process by reading scientific literature, conducting experiments, analyzing biological samples and combining approaches from several scientific and psychological schools of thought. Due to the laboratory and supervised research requirements, you will generally be required to complete your degree on-campus.

Degree TypesBachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science
Common ClassesEvolution, animal cognition, ecology, eating behaviors
Career OptionsWildlife biologist, zoologist, veterinarian
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 8% for zoologist
Median Salary (2018)* $63,420 for zoologist

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Courses Will I Take?

Your curriculum may combine seminars with hands-on laboratory courses that feature animal dissection and live animal experimentation. Your seminars will cover a variety of topics in science and psychology, including:

  • Molecular and cellular biology
  • Eating behaviors
  • Evolution
  • Interactions between plants and animals
  • Comparative psychology and ethology
  • Primate behavior
  • Animal cognition
  • Ecology
  • Behavioral neuroscience

Your degree program may culminate in a senior thesis or research project in which you will explore an area of interest in-depth. Some degree programs require you to complete an internship.

What Can I Do With This Degree?

Being an ethology or animal behavior major can help you if you wish to pursue a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree and become a veterinarian. You can also work as a wildlife biologist or zoologist. You can qualify for some positions with only a bachelor's degree, but those with master's or doctoral degrees will have better opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for zoologists should increase by 4% between 2014 and 2024, and the median wage of zoologists was $58,270 in 2014.

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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