Animal science degree programs are offered through agricultural departments and may feature an emphasis on animal breeding. Undergraduate programs require applicants to have a high school diploma, and prior college preparatory coursework in biology and chemistry is strongly recommended.
For advanced degrees, prospective graduate students need to have completed a bachelor's degree and certain science courses. Basic knowledge of business production practices such as product development, quality control and distribution is also beneficial for admittance into this program.
Some programs may allow students to select an area of specialization including meat science, animal husbandry, business, livestock production, ranch management, meat/animal feed processing, production or animal nutrition.
Associate's programs take two years to complete, bachelor's programs are completed in four years, and master's programs generally run two to three years.
Associate of Applied Science in Animal Science
In this degree program, students develop skills in animal reproduction techniques, genetics, and livestock evaluation. Depending on the program emphasis, students are prepared to enter the workforce or continue their education through further studies. Students take core courses in areas such as communications, basic sciences, and the humanities. Topics covered include:
- Animal husbandry and science
- Animal nutrition and health
- Agricultural business
- Soil science
- Artificial insemination of cattle
- Livestock selection and management
Bachelor of Science in Animal Science
Students in this program receive a comprehensive education in understanding the livestock industry. Studies in genetics and reproductive physiology also prepare students to make the necessary decisions about breeding processes. Some programs offer specializations in animal husbandry, business, production, or meat science. Graduates are prepared for a career in animal science production, and related businesses through studies of commercial management, animal feeding, health, and nutrition.
A bachelor's degree program in animal science incorporates core course requirements in the humanities and basic sciences, along with professional coursework. A variety of course topics ranging from science to business are commonly found in the field, including:
- Animal science and nutrition
- Agricultural economics
- Agricultural genetics
- Horse production
- Swine production
- Animal breeding
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Animal Health Sciences
- Animal Nutrition
- Dairy Science
- Farm Animal Breeding
- Livestock Management
- Poultry Science
Master of Science in Animal Science
Master's degree programs in the field of animal science require in-depth study and research into a specific area, such as meat or animal feed processing, livestock production, animal nutrition, or ranch management. Many programs require an internship and thesis as part of the curriculum. Master's degree programs are tailored towards the student's specific research interests. Course topics include:
- Animal reproduction
- Animal nutrition
- Research ethics
- Animal behavior
- Meat science
- Animal endocrinology
Popular Career Options
Students entering the workforce are prepared to assist with animal breeding through the collection of samples, tracking genetic outcomes and general production support. Specific roles include:
- Agricultural technician
- Horse breeder
- Dairy husbandry worker
Animal scientists may work in a variety of roles, ranging from hands-on production support to academic laboratory support. Specific jobs may include:
- Research technician
- Livestock manager
- Animal scientist
Graduates of animal science master's degree programs may pursue a variety of career paths, from academia to business. Specific roles may include:
- Quality control
- Process supervisor
- Business manager
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that as of May 2015, animal breeders made a median annual salary of $39,380. The BLS does not keep outlook statistics specifically on animal breeders, but reported a 6% decline in jobs for agricultural workers in general, which is the broader category the career falls under, from 2014 to 2024. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $23,750 for farm workers who work with farm, ranch or aquacultural animals as of May 2015.
In addition to becoming an animal breeder, graduates of animal science degrees can choose a variety of other careers. For agricultural and food science technicians, the BLS predicted an about-average job growth of 5% from 2014 to 2024. Agricultural and food science technicians earned a median annual salary of $36,480 as of May 2015.
The BLS projected job growth of 5%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, for biological technicians from 2014 to 2024. As of May 2015, the median annual salary for a biological technician was $41,650; animal scientists working with domestic animals earned a median of $60,390. The BLS also predicted a job decline of 2% for farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers between 2014 and 2014, but also indicated that agricultural managers earn a median salary of $64,170.
The BLS predicted about-average job growth of 5% from 2014 to 2024 for agricultural and food scientists. While a salary figure was not available for agricultural and food scientists specifically, the BLS reported a May 2015 median annual salary of $75,150 for biological scientists in general.
Doctoral programs for those strongly interested in research or academic careers are available through numerous colleges or universities. Some animal breeders pursue opportunities in veterinary medicine. Professional development includes membership in organizations such as the National Association of Animal Breeders; numerous options are available depending on the specific area of career interest.
Animal science degrees taught at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels instruct students on a variety of animal topics including livestock, animal husbandry, animal breeding and nutrition. Some programs allow students to select a specialty topic of study, preparing graduates for roles in the industry as animal scientists, breeders, livestock managers and research technicians.