Getting a Zoology Degree
Zoologists are trained to study animals, animal body parts and behaviors. Zoology colleges provide students with an in-depth education in topics ranging from molecular biology to animal behavior, and many students complete graduate studies in the field. Completing training at a zoology university means students can gain hands-on experience in their field and also participate in co-op or internship programs. Some colleges also have onsite research labs where students can participate in hands-on projects. They may have the opportunity to work with professional zoologists, wildlife experts and professors in the field.
What Do Zoology Majors Study?
Zoology majors learn how to observe and study animals in their natural environments and also study the origins of different species. Zoologists are also known as animal biologists and animal scientists because much of the training they receive is focused on lab work, experiments and research. Zoology majors may spend a good portion of their time examining cells and life functions of small and large animals alike, studying the behaviors of insects and mammals, and learning about different diseases.
Find a school near you
Zoology degree training programs vary only slightly from school to school, but most are offered offline only. Educational requirements may also include an internship component.
Zoology Degree Requirements
The curriculum for zoology degree programs typically focuses on animal anatomy, animal phylogeny, physiology and animal habitats and ecosystems. Students can specialize in a number of fields, including:
- Wildlife and Fisheries Science
- Marine Science
- Biomedical Science
- Cell Biology
Students need to have a strong math, science, biology, physics and chemistry background. Advanced zoology degree programs typically run from two to seven years, and higher level zoology degree programs include extensive individual research, writing scientific articles and may require the student to apply for research grants and funding. Doctoral zoology degree students typically get funding through an assistantship or by taking on a part-time teaching role.
Zoology Universities and Colleges
Some zoology colleges and universities require students to do the following when completing their degree program:
- Collect and inspect invertebrates in the field
- Attend lectures
- Complete lab work
- Dissect small animals, insects and mammals
- Complete an independent research project
- Work side-by-side with a professor on a research project
- Review scientific journals in the field
- Join campus chapters related to biological sciences and zoological sciences
- Study how animals interact and behave in different environments
Types of Zoology Courses
Some of the most common types courses include:
- Insects and Humans
- Experiential Zoology Topics
- Comparative Vertebrate Zoology
- Invertebrate Zoology
- Organisms and Populations
- Stream Ecology
- Marine Ecology
- Animal Behavior
- Behavioral Ecology
- Neurobiology and Behavior
- Physiology of Fish
- Fisheries Biology
- Biological Oceanography
Graduate and doctoral zoology degree programs typically include a thesis or advanced research project, and students may also be required to attend seminars, workshops and other events to round out their education. A significant portion of training and research is completed in the field. Students may spend time working on a lake, visiting a fish hatchery, and working at a zoo.
Careers with a Zoology Degree
Students who successfully complete a zoology degree program can explore a number of rewarding career paths and job opportunities, including:
- Laboratory Technician
- Biology Teacher
- Animal Medical Technician
- Wildlife Biologist
- Wildlife Rehabilitation Center Specialist
- Medical Laboratory Technician
- Animal Hospital Worker
- Zoo Curator
- Zoo Director
Those with advanced degrees may be able to pursue a career as a medical doctor, professor, veterinarian or animal dentist.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of zoologists work for the state government, Federal Executive Branch, and for management, scientific and technical consulting service providers. As of May 2009, the median annual wage for zoologists was $56,500.