Animal science is a great major for people who want to get into agriculture
or veterinary medicine. Students focus on how science can be applied to domestic
and farm animals.
You can take a two-year associate's degree in this field at a junior
or community college. Four-year programs at universities or colleges will
often accept transfers from these two-year programs. Students can also apply
directly to bachelor's programs.
William Graves is an animal science professor at the University of Georgia.
He says that 80 percent of the students in his program plan to become veterinarians.
But not everyone follows that route.
"We have quite a few people going into the biotech industry," he says.
"That is primarily the result of having experience working with animals and
being able to understand a lot of animal handling and biology."
Catherine Enright is a professor at an agricultural college. She says that
animal science programs tend to be rigorous. Students should be highly
"They need to keep up to date with their assignments," she says. "They
can't leave things until the last minute or they will run into time management
Like many other agriculture and animal science programs, her program has
a working farm. "Students can work with animals such as cattle, dairy cows,
pigs and chickens and learn all the procedures necessary to work on an
agricultural farm," she says.
Derek Anderson leads an animal science department at an agricultural college.
He says that students get a lot of hands-on training.
"They take classes that are skill-oriented," he says. "For instance, they
will get a good appreciation of milking cows. They get practical experience."
If you take a four-year rather than a two-year program, expect it to be
more science-oriented. These longer programs may also include courses in areas
such as business or economics.
Students earning a bachelor of science take such classes as calculus,
chemistry, physics, food issues and sustainable systems in agriculture,
Students in four-year programs also choose a specialization within animal
science and take a core of classes for that concentration. These courses are
in areas like nutrition, animal health, genetics, breeding, statistics and
To prepare, high school students should develop a strong science background.
Anderson suggests that students might do well to join 4-H clubs. "This
helps them gain an appreciation for agriculture," he says.
Besides tuition, other costs for animal science programs include textbooks
and lab fees.
Find more information related to this field of study
American Society of Animal Science
Devoted to animals, science and service
Name That Animal
You know what cats and dogs look like, but do you know what a
chacoan peccary is?
The Agricultural and Food Policy Center
How government decisions impact farmers, consumers and agribusiness