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Degree Overview: Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree in Animal Behavior

Majors Overview April 22, 2014

Ethology refers to the scientific study of the behavior of animals. Ethology programs are usually offered at graduate levels. Although, some colleges in the United States offer Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree programs in Animal Behavior.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree Programs in Animal Behavior

Bachelor’s degree programs in Animal Behavior have science-intensive coursework; coursework in a Bachelor of Science – unlike in a Bachelor of Arts – includes some additional foundational science classes and labs. Training courses in biology and psychology are combined in Ethology programs, and students are taught about the relation of both principles and theories from the two fields of study, to the behavior of insects, fish, birds and mammals.

Bachelor’s level programs allow ethology majors to give research assistance to faculty and provide help in preparing ethologically-specific articles for academic publication. Some schools also afford animal behavior majors the chance to study abroad in regions that are renowned for wildlife, such as Africa and Asia.

Beyond prior admission to general college, prospective majors in animal behavior are not required to satisfy any special admissions requirements.


Among coursework required of many majors in animal behavior is the completion of a thesis or senior project on an ethology topic, such as predatory instincts, reproduction behaviors, or species awareness and learning patterns. Laboratory studies and field experiences are used to teach many ethology courses. Coursework may include subject areas such as:

•Animal research ethical issues
•Communication among species
•Behavioral ecology
•Ethology research methods
•Evolution principles

Career Choices

Many employers for occupations in ethology prefer candidates with a doctoral or master’s degree. Employment options that may be available to graduates of an Animal Behavior bachelor’s degree program can seek positions such as:

•Educator at an aquarium
•Animal control official
•Ethology research assistant
•Animal trainer
•Zoo animal caretaker

Job and Wage Outlook

A job growth rate of 7% has been predicted for wildlife biologists and zoologists who study habitats and animal behaviors, during the decade between 2010 and 2020 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). In 2012, wildlife biologists and zoologists earned an average annual wage of $57,710 (BLS).

Continuing Education Information

Many graduates of bachelor’s degree programs in Animal Behavior pursue continued education in veterinary school. Those interested in academia or research might seek enrollment into a Ph.D. or Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology with an ethology focus. Schools also offer Animal Behavior graduate programs.

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