Zoology is the study of the biology and environments of animals. A career in zoology requires at least a bachelor’s degree in one of the life sciences. Most colleges offer zoology courses as part of education in the life sciences, but it is becoming less common for them to offer specific zoology degree programs, although some still do. An advanced zoology degree will require enrolling in a master’s degree or Ph.D. program in a field of natural science at a university.
Degrees such as a Bachelor’s of Art or Science in Biology, Zoology, Wildlife Management, Environmental Policy, or Studies and Conservation are all good preparation for a career in zoology. Zoologists can work in a variety of sub-fields like research, education, conservation, veterinary medicine, resource management, and agriculture.
While getting your bachelor’s degree, you will want to take courses that focus on animal biology, wildlife, or policy issues related to animals, depending on your interests. Talk to your professors to find out about the research they are doing and whether there are opportunities for students to get involved. You might look to local zoos, animal hospitals, and wildlife and animal rescue organizations to see if they have internship opportunities. These experiences will enhance your education in zoology as well as make you more attractive when you are looking for a job or pursuing further study.
An advanced zoology degree requires between two to seven years of study, on average. As with the undergraduate degrees, a specialization in zoology can be undertaken in several fields in the life sciences. A master’s degree is usually accomplished in two years, while a Ph.D. usually takes between five to seven years. For a higher level zoology degree you can expect to take more advanced classes, including several on how to conduct research, and complete your own research. For a Ph.D. program, expect to conduct extensive individual research, apply for research funding, and write and attempt to publish scientific articles with your research results.
In general, students must pay tuition for their master’s degree, while Ph.D. students are funded by the university, grants, teaching or assistantships during most or all of their studies. Some universities offer co-op degree programs with federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife. These programs usually will pay for your schooling in return for an obligation to work at the agency for a certain period of time.