Animal Husbandry Degrees by Degree Program Level

Students who wish to study animal husbandry have the option of either an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in animal science. In these programs, students will learn about many areas of animal agriculture as it relates to farming, animals, and food.

Essential Information

Whether an individual chooses to study animal science at the associate's or bachelor's degree level, both of these programs will include core courses in livestock management and animal breeding. However, a bachelor's program may allow students to gain hands-on experience. Bachelor's programs also include more general education requirements than associate's programs. Graduates of both programs can pursue careers in breeding, farming and related sectors of the agricultural industry.

  • Program Levels in Animal Science: Associate's and bachelor's degree programs.
  • Prerequisites: Both associate's and bachelor's degree programs require a high school diploma or equivalent, and standardized test scores may be required; a bachelor's program may also ask for an admissions essay and letters of recommendation.
  • Program Length: Associate's degree programs are two years long, while bachelor's degree programs span four years.
  • Other Requirements: Many programs incorporate internships at farms or other locations in the animal agricultural industry.
  • Online Availability: Some courses and programs are available online.

Associate's Degree in Animal Science

Students interested in animal husbandry can start their education by pursuing an associate's degree in animal science. This 2-year degree program instructs students in the production and management of livestock. Coursework focuses on providing a comprehensive understanding of animal agriculture, with classes in health and sanitation, breeding, livestock evaluation and other topics. Sample core course titles might include:

  • Livestock marketing
  • Equine nutrition
  • Breeding and genetics
  • Animal anatomy and physiology
  • Housing construction

Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science

Bachelor's degree programs in animal science vary with regards to the emphasis of the curriculum. Some are designed to prepare individuals for entry-level positions in the animal and food industries. Other programs feature a curriculum designed for the farm owner or operator. Independent of the curriculum emphasis, a bachelor's degree program in animal science teaches the biological and physical processes involved in animal care and utilization. Many of these programs feature a work internship, in which the degree candidate gains valuable hands-on experience working at a farm or in the agricultural industry. Coursework may include the following:

  • Herd health
  • Range management
  • Food and fiber systems
  • Advanced breeding
  • Swine nutrition

Popular Career Options

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the increasing cost of land, machinery and other essentials will contribute to fewer employment opportunities for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers from 2012-2022. Job opportunities are expected to decline by 19% during this decade. This decline will be partially offset by the growing popularity of small-scale, local and organic farming. Some sample job titles are included below:

  • Agricultural inspector
  • Organic meat and produce farmer
  • Animal breeder

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Useful salary information for farmers and ranchers can be difficult to ascertain, owing in part to the annual fluctuations in price and demand for farm output. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for animal breeders was $40,000 as of May 2014. The BLS also reports a median salary of $68,050 for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers, and $27,380 for general agricultural workers as of May 2014.

Continuing Education Information

For the person interested in a career caring for or breeding farm animals, an associate's or bachelor's degree in animal science is usually sufficient. While graduate degree programs in animal husbandry are extremely rare, master's and doctoral degree programs in animal science are available. These programs are designed to teach the skills and knowledge needed for senior research and faculty positions within the agricultural sector. Related programs, which include an animal husbandry curriculum at the graduate level, include veterinary technology, veterinary medicine, agricultural science and animal management.

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