Online Associates Degree in Animal Science: Program Overview

Research online animal science courses and associate's degree programs. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

Essential Information

Online programs leading to an associate's degree in animal science are frequently listed as distance learning programs in the area of veterinary technology. Veterinary technology programs are available in an online format; however, these are generally offered as hybrid programs that combine online learning with in-person clinical requirements. Some programs may require students to record their clinical training to submit as proof to the college; therefore, in addition to internet access and a reliable computer, students may need a video recorder.

Additionally, since the field requires students to become licensed, students will want to look for programs accredited by the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities. Veterinary technicians and technologists are required to be professionally licensed or certified in all states. Check for state-specific regulations when choosing an educational program.

Associate's Degrees in Animal Science

Graduates of online animal science and vet tech programs learn many aspects of animal health and care, including how to diagnose and treat animal diseases, perform tests and take blood and tissue samples for laboratory analysis. Most programs require students to complete general education requirements, such as biology, math and English composition, before they apply. In addition, some programs ask that their online students meet the clinical or hospital observation requirements of the program by working or volunteering in a veterinary hospital or care facility prior to admittance. In some cases, students are required to spend a minimum number of hours discussing the profession with veterinarians or vet techs, and observing specific aspects of veterinary practice, including surgical procedures and euthanasia.

Information and Course Requirements

Online associate's degree programs in animal science or veterinary technology typically take 2-3 years to complete. Although the curriculum in these programs is taught primarily online, most programs also include a clinical work experience component that must be done in-person in a veterinary hospital or care facility. Often students are required to work with a qualified veterinary hospital preceptor or mentor during their online studies, someone who can demonstrate necessary clinical skills and provide tutoring assistance and feedback.

Distance learning students may need additional equipment beyond a personal computer to meet their program requirements. One program asks its online students to use a video camera to film themselves performing certain clinical tasks. Program staff use this videotaped evidence, along with material on CDs or other media, to evaluate whether students have met the online degree requirements.

Course Topics

Animal Anatomy

In this animal science class, students learn how to recognize the anatomical differences and similarities among animals, especially common domesticated animals. Students learn about various animal anatomical structures through the use of dissected animals, animal skeletons, diagnostic images and anatomical models.

Animal Physiology

Students in this class learn how animals function as living beings, including the workings of their nervous, circulatory and cardiovascular systems. This class may also cover animal reproduction systems and other physiological processes such as kidney function and endocrine systems.

Animal Microbiology

The topic of this course is microbial diseases and their causes in animals, both domestic pets and livestock. These disease causes may be bacterial, viral or fungal in origin. In addition, how these illnesses are transmitted and treated is examined.

Animal Pharmacy and Pharmacology

This course teaches students how medicines and drugs work in animals, the potential side effects of medications and how to calculate dosages. Students also learn the proper terminology used in animal science and medicine.

Career Information

Graduates of online animal science associate's degree programs can look for careers as veterinary assistants, working with licensed veterinarians in private offices or clinics, or as veterinary technologists, who are more likely to be engaged in research work. Every U.S. state requires veterinary technicians or technologists to pass a state-administered credentialing exam, usually the National Veterinary Exam, after they have finished their schoolwork. Those interested in research are encouraged to pursue certification by the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), veterinary technologists or technicians will enjoy excellent job prospects ( The BLS reports that there won't be enough qualified applicants for these jobs graduating from 2-year programs from 2014-2024 to meet the expected demand, so job growth will be 19%, which is significantly faster than average. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $31,800 for veterinary technologists and technicians as of May 2015.

Online associate's degree programs in animal science are more commonly programs in veterinary technology, and prepare students for careers as veterinary assistants. Students in these programs may study topics such as animal anatomy, microbiology and pharmacy.

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