Wildlife Biology Colleges and Schools in the U.S.

A student enrolled in a wildlife biology program will study the life, origin and behavior of animals in their natural habitats. Ecology and conservation also play a large role in many programs in this field. Some programs in wildlife science prepare students to conduct independent research, while others are more appropriate for those interested in education and public outreach.

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A number of 4-year colleges and universities across the country offer wildlife biology programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Coursework can include a number of specialties, such as conservation of endangered species, enforcement of regulations, education, resource management and research.

Top Plant and Animal Science Schools

The following 4-year schools offer wildlife biology degree programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016, In-state)*
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private Master's, Doctoral $29,581
University of California--Davis Davis, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,951 (Undergraduate), $13,164 (Graduate)
University of Florida Gainesville, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $6,381 (Undergraduate) $12,737 (Graduate)
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,560 (Undergraduate) $16,122 (Graduate)
University of Wisconsin--Madison Madison, WI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $10,415 (Undergraduate), $11,870 (Graduate)
University of Minnesota--Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,790 (Undergraduate) $17,289 (Graduate)
Duke University Durham, NC 4-year, Private Bachelor's $49,241

*Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

College Selection Criteria

Further considerations for choosing a wildlife biology program:

  • Students may benefit from seeking programs with significant hands-on experience either in a laboratory or in the field.
  • Because wildlife studies depend on the location of the habitats of different species, students will want to find a school that has access to the populations they want to study.
  • Some programs put more of an emphasis on conservation than others, so students interested in a job protecting wildlife should take that into consideration.
  • Students should look at research opportunities and interests with the faculty of each program to see which one best aligns with their own interests.

Bachelor's Degree in Wildlife Biology

Bachelor's degree programs in wildlife biology last four years and include general education requirements in addition to laboratory and field experiences. Students prepare for entry-level work in government agencies and private organizations; they may also go on to teach in a high school setting. A high school diploma or its equivalent is required for entry into a bachelor's degree program.

Master of Science in Wildlife Biology

An M.S. in Wildlife Biology is appropriate for students who want to be research technicians or instructors at the high school or community college level. It can also be good preparation for those who need to clarify their research objectives before starting a Ph.D. program. The program usually requires two years of study and combines classroom lectures with independent research. Some M.S. programs require a thesis, while others do not. If students choose to complete a non-thesis program, they may still need to complete a professional research paper. A bachelor's degree in wildlife biology or a related field is necessary for admission.

Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology

A Ph.D. program is most appropriate for students wanting to conduct original, independent research involving fish and wildlife or the habitats in which these animals live. It's also appropriate for those who aim to teach topics such as conservation and environmentalism in a university setting. The program generally takes 4-6 years to complete and requires the completion of a dissertation; there may also be a final exam. Enrollees may need to satisfy a language requirement if advisors deem it necessary to a student's specialty based on the region of interest or the scholastics involved in a particular set of wildlife study.

Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in wildlife biology are available at public and private institutions throughout the United States for interested students. School location and opportunities for hands-on experiences should play a role in a student's school selection process.

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