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Zoology/Animal Biology

Program Description

Just the Facts

Zoology/Animal Biology. A general program that focuses on the scientific study of the biology of animal species and phyla, with reference to their molecular and cellular systems, anatomy, physiology, and behavior. Includes instruction in molecular and cell biology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, ecology and behavior, evolutionary biology, and applications to specific species and phyla.

This program is available in these options:

  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

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See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

Related Careers

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Additional Information

A zoology degree could put you on the track to a research career that could help preserve animal habitats and help endangered species.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) says you need at least a bachelor's degree for entry-level jobs in biology (and zoology). A master's degree is enough for some jobs in research or product development.

A PhD is generally required for independent research and for advancement to administrative jobs.

You'll begin with a strong academic base in math and science. Then you'll broaden that knowledge through lab work and real-world field experience.

Emily Oaks is a zoology professor at the State University of New York at Oswego. She says a bachelor's program should offer a strong combination of animal biology, lab work, chemistry, physics and mathematics.

Oaks adds that her students enhance their classroom experience with real-world lessons. Some students intern at local zoos, or use nearby Lake Ontario for aquatic environmental classes.

"In general, the [program] is planned to help students develop skills in critical thinking, computer literacy, communication, research and the ability to work independently and in groups," she says.

Some programs offer the opportunity to conduct independent research, which can improve your chances for admission into competitive graduate programs.

"Research opportunities help students apply the critical thinking skills they have acquired from their experience in classes to ask questions, design and conduct experiments and then collect and analyze data," says Phyllis Callahan, a zoology professor at Miami University.

"Their communication skills, both written and oral, need to be well developed so they can share their results with others in the field," she adds.

High school classes in chemistry, physics and mathematics are highly recommended. "Mathematics is extremely important in the sciences, and if you have good basic skills, you will have more confidence and success in your courses in college," says Callahan.

A strong background in writing and public speaking experience is encouraged.

Getting experience in the outdoors, working in the community alongside biology professionals or participating in an internship can help.

The cost of textbooks, labs and field fees vary.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Biological Scientists

Smithsonian Institution -- Backyard Biology
Learn about the zoo's living backyard

Smithsonian National Zoological Park
Info on all kinds of animals


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