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 may 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.
Both associate's and bachelor's degrees in animal science require a high school diploma or its equivalent.
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.
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 19% for veterinary technicians and technologists for the years 2014 through 2024, and a decline of 2% in employment for farm managers. The BLS also notes that the median annual wage for veterinary technicians and technologists was $31,800 in 2015 while managers of farms, ranches and other agricultural businesses earned a median annual wage of $64,170 in the same year.
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.
Associate's degrees in animal science prepare students interested in animal studies for entry-level positions in vet clinics and wildlife centers, while bachelor's degrees can lead to management careers on farms and in livestock companies. Students who wish to go on to veterinary school must complete an undergraduate degree, typically a bachelor's, in order to continue their education.