Undergraduate Programs for Animal Studies: Program Overviews

Undergraduate degree programs most closely related to animal studies are those offered as animal science programs. Animal science is the study of both companion animals and animals that provide or are used for food. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs are available at the undergraduate level in this field.

Essential Information

Courses offered in undergraduate programs in animal science address animal diseases, animal nutrition, veterinary technology and animal management. Courses in chemistry, biology and microbiology are also taken. Programs could combine instruction with hands-on learning experiences.

In many cases, undergraduate programs in animal science satisfy pre-veterinary requirements for those seeking admission to veterinary school. Degrees in animal science can open doors to careers in animal production, research, care and processing. Those interested in pursuing a career in research or academics or who wish to become veterinarians would need to continue their studies beyond the undergraduate level.

  • Program Levels in Animal Science: Associate's degrees, Bachelor's degrees, Master's degrees
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
  • Program Length: 2-4 years depending on program level

Associate's Degree in Animal Science

While a 4-year degree is offered by a larger number of colleges and universities, some schools have 2-year degree programs in animal science. Many of these programs are intended for those seeking to become veterinarian technicians or are looking to gain entry-level positions in the animal or farming industry. Admission to an associate's degree program in animal science typically requires a high school diploma or equivalent.

The curriculum of an Associate of Applied Science in Animal Science degree program will consist mainly of introductory courses plus some general education requirement courses. Some of the coursework related to animal studies includes the following:

  • Veterinary technology
  • Veterinary medical terminology
  • Animal diseases
  • Animal behavior
  • Animal anatomy and physiology
  • Livestock production

Bachelor's Degree in Animal Science

A Bachelor of Science in Animal Science degree program can prepare students for careers in such areas as farm management, livestock sales, agriculture and animal product management. Students can generally choose a concentration, such as livestock management, equestrian studies, dairy science, pre-veterinary medicine or agricultural studies.

A bachelor's degree program in animal science will generally include several similar courses as those offered in associate degree programs, though in most cases on a more advanced level. Students may be required to take core science courses such as chemistry, organic chemistry, biology and microbiology. Other courses that might be part of the curriculum of a bachelor's degree program include the following:

  • Animal genetics and molecular biology
  • Animal reproduction and breeding
  • Animal nutrition
  • Beef cattle management
  • Companion animal management
  • Poultry management

Popular Career Options

An associate's degree in animal science will qualify students for entry-level positions in veterinary clinics, wildlife centers or livestock businesses. Job titles may include the following:

  • Veterinary technician
  • Veterinary assistant
  • Wildlife technician
  • Animal control officer

A bachelor's degree in animal science can lead to some mid- to upper-level management positions in animal-related businesses and industries. Some typical job titles include the following:

  • Farm manager
  • Manager livestock marketing company
  • Animal-plant health inspector
  • Quality control officer for pet food manufacturer
  • Animal laboratory research technician

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts an employment growth of 30% for veterinary technicians and technologists for the years 2012 through 2022, and a decline of 19% in employment for farm managers. The BLS also notes that the median annual wage for veterinary technicians and technologists was $31,070 in 2014 while farm managers earned a median annual wage of $68,050 in the same year.

Continuing Education

Graduates of an associate's degree program in animal science are qualified to enter a bachelor's degree program if they so choose. A bachelor's degree is required for those who would like to apply to veterinary school or other graduate programs in animal science.

Graduate programs, such as the one that leads to the Master of Science in Animal Science, are available for those who want to further their education beyond a bachelor's degree. Those who want to become veterinarians would attend veterinary schools.

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