Wildlife Biology Graduate Programs Overview

Students in graduate wildlife biology programs study the lives of animals through a combination of coursework and field experiences. Graduates of these master's and doctoral degree programs can pursue careers as biologists, conservationists or academics.

Essential Information

Graduate degrees in wildlife biology are available at the master's and doctoral levels. Specializations include areas such as wildlife management, habitat analysis, and plant ecology. A major component of wildlife biology graduate programs is developing an understanding of animals in their natural habitats. To foster research, many graduate programs in wildlife biology are offered at schools with close access to rural areas; when located in urban areas, students may spend extensive time on field expeditions, conducting remote research or working in zoos or wildlife sanctuaries.

Admission to these graduate programs generally requires a bachelor's degree in wildlife biology or a related field. Applicants to doctoral programs may have to meet additional requirements.


Master's Degree in Wildlife Biology

Master's degree programs in wildlife biology offer students the opportunity for advanced training and research. . Commonly offered at 4-year colleges and universities, these programs include study of contemporary issues in the field and the science of particular animal groups. In addition to completing internships, students examine related topics through courses in the following:

  • Wildlife management techniques
  • Issues in wildlife conservation
  • Animal health and nutrition
  • Biometry
  • General ecology
  • Plant biology
  • Ichthyology
  • Mammalogy

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Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology

Students in Ph.D. programs in wildlife biology focus on research and the completion of a dissertation. Some programs may also require students to complete internships and/or student teaching. In preparation for careers in education or professional research, students are trained in scientific analysis, quantitative tools and problem-solving. Common course topics include the following:

  • Contemporary issues in biometrics
  • Legal issues in wildlife management
  • Wildlife handling
  • Landscape ecology
  • Statistical issues in wildlife biology
  • Soil science

Popular Career Options

Graduates of wildlife biology Ph.D. and master's degree programs are prepared for careers in education, research and consulting. For example, one might become a professor or endangered species educator. One might also find a career in wildlife conservation or environmental research.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Wildlife biologists and zoologists held 21,300 jobs in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Employment opportunities in wildlife biology were expected to grow 4% between 2014 and 2024, which is slower than the average for all occupations. Job growth was expected to come as a result of multiple factors, including the need to examine the effect of human population growth on animal habitats. As of May 2015, the median annual wage of wildlife biologists and zoologists was $59,680.

Graduate students interested in studying wildlife biology can find master's and doctoral degree programs that will provide them with the hands-on training and research skills needed to study animal behavior in the field.


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