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Animal Science Degree Programs by Program Level

Majors Overview March 25, 2013

Individuals who want to learn how to care for animals and study different animal species should pursue a degree program in animal science. There are several degree programs in animal science for students to pursue, such as undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree program. Earning an animal science degree may lead to or advance careers in an animal industry, business, or animal production.

Animal Science Bachelor Degree Program

A majority of animal science bachelor degree program offer students hands-on training in animal agriculture while obtaining fundamental knowledge in areas of animal management, genetics, reproduction, physiology, anatomy, and nutrition. Students can study various animal species, such as poultry, goats, sheep, livestock, and swine. Several programs provide students with options to pursue an area of emphasis in the field, including biotechnology, equine studies, or livestock.

Throughout an animal science undergraduate degree program, students will become proficient in operating scientific equipment and caring for animals. They will also gain skills in ethical and critical thinking, teamwork, problem-solving, and communication. Students will have opportunities for independent studies or participate in an internship within some degree programs. A high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate is usually required for admission to a degree program.

Course Topics

Students in an animal science undergraduate program can take coursework that covers areas of sales, service, research, and production. Students may come to understand the development, breeding, and welfare of domestic and laboratory animals, including pets and farm animals. Several students will be able to work with exotic animals. The program course topics may include:

•Breed identification
•Animal breeding
•Animal cell biology
•Livestock techniques
•Genetics
•Anatomy
•Animal nutrition

Career Options

Students who have graduated from an animal science bachelor degree program will discover careers in animal agriculture or animal production. Individuals will be able to work with animals at a farm, in a kennel, or at a zoo. Students who hold an undergraduate degree in animal science can find positions as:

•Veterinary technologists
•Livestock agents
•Poultry breeders
•Zoo curators
•Assistant farm managers

Animal Science Master Degree Program

Graduate degree program in animal science offer individuals technical and theoretical studies towards extensive background into the sub-disciplines of the field. This may include subjects such as animal well-being, animal management, physiology, biotechnology, genetics and nutrition. Students can receive broad training in various areas related to the field and work directly with livestock, such as horses, sheep, swine, and cattle. In order for students to gain hands-on experience, they will have to conduct research in an animal facility.

Educational Requirements

Students applying to an animal science graduate degree program must have previously earned an undergraduate degree in animal science and submit their transcripts to the program. Depending on the colleges or universities, they may require students to submit their Graduate Record Examination scores and meet a minimum grade point average (GPA).

Course Topics

Students enrolled in a master degree program will study issues impacting global, national, and regional societies; such issues may involve reproductive biology, nutrition, and animal behavior. Coursework may also revolve around animal sustainability, profitability, and productivity. Students might study topics such as:

•Lactation physiology
•Livestock genetics
•Livestock evaluation
•Dairy production
•Domestic animal metabolism
•Ruminant nutrition
•Reproduction

Career Options

Students with a master degree and have studied animal science may discover careers in animal-related fields beyond those at entry-level. Individuals can find positions such as:

•Equine extension specialists
•Agricultural Librarians
•Animal research coordinators
•Animal scientists

Animal Science Doctoral Degree Program

Typically, doctoral program in animal science provides students with options to explore an area of expertise in the field, such as endocrinology, dairy nutrition, and immunology. Students enrolled in these programs will be required to take qualifying oral and written exams, along with final exams before the degree is awarded. A majority of doctoral programs are research-based; students will be required to complete a publication-worthy piece of writing or dissertation based on their area of research.

Educational Requirements

Students need to complete an undergraduate or graduate degree program, if they want to pursue the doctoral program in animal science. Students may be required to submit their Graduate Record Examination scores in some programs.

Course Topics

Students will delve into courses that complement their area of research throughout the animal science doctoral program. The program course topics may include:

•Statistics
•Cell Culture
•Dairy management
•Dietetics
•Nutrition issues

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

Graduates from an animal science doctoral degree program will be prepared for a wide variety of careers in education, technical consulting, and research. Since students’ research largely determines the direction of their career, the job opportunities for graduates are subjective to their specialization. During May 2010, professors of agriculture science, which animal science may fall under, earned an average annual salary of $81,760, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).

Information on Continuing Education

Usually, those who have earned an animal science degree will choose to apply their knowledge towards education in veterinary medicine. Individuals who want to work as a veterinarian will need to meet state licensure requirements, as well as earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. Veterinary Residency or Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program can be offered in combination with Ph.D. and Master of Science programs.

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