The National Wildlife Federation has four goals: conserving wildlife, protecting endangered species, stopping the increase of invasive species, and protecting and restoring natural bodies of water. College-level online classes and degree programs in wildlife science tend to teach toward the same types of goals. Online degree programs in wildlife sciences cover areas such as wildlife ecology and conservation, natural resources, wildlife biology, fisheries biology and marine biology.
The study of wildlife, like most other scientific branches, requires a substantial amount of field and lab work. Schools with online programs address this need in various ways. Some colleges have hybrid programs, offering a few courses online, while the rest of the courses have to be taken on-campus. Other schools offer programs entirely online, though they do require students to complete lab and fieldwork. This can take the form of going out into the field and independently assessing habitats, plants and animals; engaging in one or more internships with conservation organizations; attending conferences or assisting a working biologist in the field.
Online Wildlife Courses
Below are some commonly offered online wildlife courses.
- Principles of Fish and Wildlife Conservation: Students learn about fundamental principles of fish and wildlife conservation and management, as well as the legal, historical, geological and cultural institutions that affect wildlife populations. They also study ways in which scientific knowledge and research are used in the field.
- Ornithology: This course is an introduction to the study of birds, including their structure and function and the physics of flight. Topics include evolution, taxonomy, anatomy, physiology, ecology and conservation as these concepts apply to birds. An introductory biology course is generally a prerequisite.
- Wildlife Habitat on the Great Plains: This course reflects upon the way in which wildlife populations have been altered on the Great Plains by human settlements and agriculture. Students learn about the various wildlife species that live in the area and their ecological needs. An emphasis is placed on management techniques that are effective on private lands.
- Wildlife Parasitology: Students learn about parasites that live on mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians and invertebrates. They also study the impact that these parasites have on biology.
- Wildlife Extinction Course: This course will focus on the issues of extinction, species dynamics, and factors that influence the population size in different plants and animals. Students will learn about the importance of habitat preservation for species survival, as well as hunting and gaming law. The course will also discuss possible preventative actions to protect endangered wildlife.
Schools with Online Wildlife Courses and Programs
Colorado State University
Colorado State University's Warner College of Natural Resources offers a comprehensive natural resources program focusing on critical environmental management problems. Online courses can be applied toward undergraduate degrees in several areas, including fisheries and aquatic science, conservation biology or wildlife biology. A related Master of Science program in ecosystem science is available in a combined format of online and correspondence courses.
Washington State University
Washington State University's Natural Resource Sciences Department offers programs in natural resource sciences, research and education. The program has fostered a number of on-campus wildlife-related laboratories and research facilities and has also promoted a number of online courses that feature independent study, online seminars and workshops. Courses can be applied to many fields, including biology, ecology, evolution, biogeography, geology, chemistry, genetics and social sciences.
Oregon State University
Oregon State University offers an online bachelor's degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences with a large number of online courses. A graduate certificate in fisheries management is also available online. Coursework covers a variety of areas, including applied ecosystem ecology, conservation and population analysis.