A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in animal science or biotechnology prepares graduates for entry-level research positions or for a graduate program. A Master of Science (M.S.) in the field prepares candidates for jobs as mid-level supervisors on research teams, while a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is required for those wishing to conduct independent research or teach at the postsecondary level. Online courses and programs are available. Program specializations include research technique development, hypothesis formulation and problem solving.
Students in a bachelor's degree program get a solid foundation in animal science and develop their research skills. A high school diploma or GED certificate is required prior to beginning a B.S. in Animal Biotechnology program. A bachelor's degree in animal science or a related field is required for master's-level study. Candidates generally are required to have completed undergraduate coursework in areas such as biology, chemistry, genetics, biochemistry, physical chemistry and physics. Those who move on to master's degree programs examine more advanced topics in animal reproduction and health and usually choose a concentration. Students learn through classroom and research experiences.
Doctoral students take advanced classes and engage in intensive research as they prepare a dissertation. Candidates generally must be in possession of a master's degree in animal science or a related discipline such as biology, environmental science and biomedicine. Some institutions may consider bachelor's degree holders if their undergraduate coursework meets department requirements in areas such as reproductive physiology and animal nutrition.
Bachelor of Science in Animal Science
Students in this program develop an understanding of cell and molecular biology and biochemistry in order to improve animal production. These programs generally focus on core animal science principles that teach students how animal scientific research is conducted in various disciplines.
This program comprises classes that emphasize fundamental theories in cell and molecular biology and biochemistry and their application in a variety of scientific and research settings. The following are some possible subjects covered in the curriculum:
- Introduction to animal science
- Animal physiology
- Principles of animal nutrition
- Stem cell biology
Master of Science in Animal Science
Master's degree candidates study advanced topics in animal biotechnology and biomedicine. Students gain experience in applying scientific principles to understanding disease processes, effects of toxins on animal and human health, and disease control.
Graduate degree programs contain classes that combine theoretical and practical knowledge of animal scientific principles. Many programs host concentrations in animal biotechnology and biomedicine, and feature coursework in animal reproduction and development. Course topics may include:
- Cellular immunology
- Fertility control
- Toxicology and reproduction
- Genetic modeling
- Neurotoxicology and pharmacology
Ph.D. in Animal Biotechnology
Doctoral degree programs provide the highest level of study and research in the field of animal science and biotechnology. Although program lengths vary, most require 30-45 hours of upper-tier coursework in addition to previously completed master's degree credits in the field.
Classes consist of advanced studies in specialized research in areas including ruminant nutrition, dairy management and cell cultures. Course subjects include:
- Mammalian physiology
- Amino acid metabolism
- Range nutrition techniques
Popular Career Options
Graduates are generally equipped to seek mid to senior-level positions in the private sector and government where expertise in animal science and biotechnology is leveraged in an interdisciplinary team environment. Some career options include:
- Research specialist
- Laboratory technician
Employment and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment for agricultural and food scientists, a field where those with animal biotechnology degrees are often employed, is expected to grow by 5% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, animal scientists in the 25th-75th percentiles earned an annual salary from $46,180 to $81,620, as of 2015.
Job applicants holding a Ph.D. are generally qualified to seek advanced positions in teaching and research. In January 2016, Payscale.com reported that the annual median salary for a university professor was $89,005 (www.payscale.com).
Certificates in biotechnology are generally available to bachelor's students studying animal science or a related discipline. Areas of study include molecular biology, animal and plant cell culture technology, and monoclonal antibody production. Certificate programs vary in length and most require 18-24 hours of classroom instruction and laboratory work. Course topics include:
- Agricultural genetics
- Molecular biology
- Recombinant DNA techniques
- Food microbiology
Animal biotechnology degree programs are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctorate levels, and prepare students for varying levels of careers in research or education. Certificate programs in biotechnology are available to graduates, and job growth in the field is average.