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10 Best Degrees for Animal Lovers
How To Turn Your Love for Animals into a Career

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You can turn your love for animals into a career. However, you’ll need a degree to get you started on your journey. Here are the top 10 degrees for animal lovers who want to embark upon a compassionate career path.

#1 Bachelor of Science in Pre-Veterinary Studies

The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Pre-Veterinary Studies covers the basics of animal physiology, nutrition, and reproduction. It prepares undergraduate students for the rigors of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) professional degree programs.

Expected Courses

When pursuing this degree, you’ll take a variety of math, science, and physiology classes. You can expect to enroll in microbiology, organic chemistry, and genetics. Other subjects that you’ll encounter during your four years at college include nutrition, molecular biology, and biochemistry. Upon degree completion, you’ll understand the principles of animal behavior and how to interact with them responsibly.

Admissions Requirements

Only a few universities offer B.S. in Pre-veterinary Studies degree programs, and getting into a good school is a highly competitive process. You’ll need a stellar grade point average (G.P.A.) and standardized test scores for the SAT or the ACT. Many schools consider your high school class rank, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation when making admissions decisions. Be prepared to write an essay about your interest in this area of study. Transfer students must generally have a 3.0 out of 4.0 G.P.A. to gain admission into top B.S. in Pre-veterinary Studies programs.

Course Format: Online or Traditional

B.S. in Pre-veterinary Studies programs are mostly offered on campus. Many of its science courses require hands-on assignments in laboratory and clinical settings, which are difficult to replicate online. However, some programs allow students to take general math and science classes online and transfer the credits to meet degree requirements. University of Findlay, Pennsylvania State University, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offer some of the nation’s top B.S. in Pre-veterinary Studies programs.

Possible Career Paths

While you’ll need a D.V.M. degree and a license to practice veterinary medicine, there are plenty of career paths to take after you’ve earned your B.S. in Pre-veterinary Studies. You can use your knowledge of animal nutrition for product development for companies that make dog, cat, and livestock feed. People are more concerned about animal welfare than ever before. With a B.S. in Pre-veterinary Studies, you can work as an instructor for the ethical treatment of animals.

#2 Bachelor of Science in Animal Science

The B.S. in Animal Science degree program covers the basics of animal reproduction, nutrition, and genetics. Unlike the B.S. in Pre-veterinary Studies that prepares you for graduate school in D.V.M. programs, this degree opens doors for you to work with animals in a field or laboratory setting.

Expected Courses

Since you must learn about a variety of domesticated animals and wildlife as an animal science major, an exciting array of classes awaits you. Some courses that you can expect to take include Marine Life Exploration, Companion Animal Management, and Animal Ultrasound. Some conservation courses have experiential learning components that take place in foreign lands such as Australia, South Africa, and Ecuador.

Admissions Requirements

Top schools require you to submit your high school transcript and to have earned a 3.0 G.P.A. on a 4.0 scale during your time in grade school. To prepare for this science-centered degree program, you’ll need to have high school credits in algebra, biology, chemistry, English, and social studies. If you’re a new freshman, you’ll also be asked to submit SAT or ACT test scores. Many students choose to take general education courses at a community college and transfer their credits for degree completion at a top-tier university. Top schools require that you achieve grades of 2.5 G.P.A. or better for these transfer credits.

Course Format: Online or Traditional

In addition to on-campus classes, some top-tier schools offer B.S. in Animal Science programs in hybrid formats. You can complete courses that don’t require labs or hands-on work in a virtual setting. University of Findlay, University of Nevada at Reno, and University of Arizona at Tucson are some schools that offer top-rated B.S. in Animal Science programs.

Possible Career Paths

Before policies are published, you’ll find that many organizations take time to do extensive research. The same is true for the agricultural industry and the field of wildlife conservation. A four-year degree in animal science allows you to work behind the scenes to provide research data for fact-driven decision making. You’ll find career opportunities with government agencies, laboratories, and research companies.

#3 Bachelor of Science in Zoology

B.S. in Zoology degree programs focus on animal genetics and behavior. Many programs also present concepts about environmental management and conservation.

Expected Courses

Besides general math and science classes, you can expect to take courses such as basic biology, chemistry, and animal behavior in your first two years of study. During your last two years of the program, you’ll likely take more advanced courses in areas such as cellular biology, ecology, and genetics. Many degree programs include ample courses in statistical research methods, and you’ll get to put your skills into practice by assisting professors with research activities.

Admissions Requirements

Nearly all universities that offer B.S. in Zoology degree programs require students to submit copies of their high school transcripts, SAT or ACT test score results, and essays. More competitive schools base admission requirements on high standardized test scores, high school course load rigor, and extracurricular activities that align with the area of study.

Course Format: Online or Traditional

B.S. in Zoology degree programs require a lot of hands-on laboratory work, and most are only offered in a traditional, on-campus format. However, many universities allow students to take theory-based math and science courses online and transfer those credits for degree completion. Texas A&M University, University of Florida, and Liberty University have some top-notch B.S. in Zoology degree programs.

Possible Career Paths

Zoology is a broad study of animals and their habitats, and the career options for degree holders are just as extensive. You’ll find work within government agencies as a research technician, park ranger, or a lab assistant. Your career path can take you off the beaten path as a zoo curator, animal sanctuary manager, or a veterinarian technician.

#4 Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Nursing

The B.S. in Veterinary Nursing program presents students with the basic knowledge of caring for and handling animals. During this program, you’ll learn about the laboratory tests and medical procedures that make up veterinary medicine. The program prepares you to be a competent supporting team member in a veterinary hospital or clinic.

Expected Courses

Courses in B.S. in Veterinary Nursing programs cover all aspects of animal nursing care such as x-ray imaging and diagnostic testing, post-surgical care, and dental hygiene. Some common courses that you can expect to take during this degree program include animal anatomy, parasitology, and clinical toxicology for animals.

Admissions Requirements

Besides the standard requirements to provide high school transcripts, SAT or ACT test scores, and letters of recommendation, you’ll likely be asked to answer some questions about your interest in veterinary nursing during the application process. Students who earn a two-year degree in veterinary nursing or a similar degree can enroll in the B.S. in Veterinary Nursing program as a junior. These transfer students must have received a 2.5 G.P.A. or better to enroll in top four-year programs.

Course Format: Online or Traditional

Most B.S. in Veterinary Nursing programs are only offered in traditional, on-campus formats. However, many general studies in math, science, and physiology can be taken online to satisfy degree requirements. Many of these programs require hands-on clinical work and internships that can’t be done online. Check out Purdue University’s B.S. in Veterinary Nursing program.

Possible Career Paths

The B.S. in Veterinary Nursing program primarily prepares graduates to be registered animal nurses in clinics and hospitals. You can also use this degree to become a kennel manager, a biomedical laboratory technician, or an operating room technician.

#5 Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology

A B.S. in Marine Biology degree program allows students to learn about the way aquatic animals interact with each other and their watery surroundings. Graduates are expected to use their research-based findings to protect aquatic life and delicate marine ecosystems.

Expected Courses

As a marine biology major, you’ll take many general science classes in the areas of biology, chemistry, and physics. As you progress in the program, you’ll take more targeted courses in areas such as geology, oceanography, ichthyology, and marine botany. Many of these programs include valuable internships, and their experiential learning assignments can lead to boating expeditions and SCUBA diving excursions.

Admissions Requirements

Many universities that offer top-rated B.S. in Marine Biology programs have highly selective admissions requirements. For instance, most want new freshmen to have taken a number of college preparation-level courses before applying to their schools. The areas of study for these college prep courses include first and second-level algebra, geometry, biology, English, and history. You’ll also need to submit copies of your official high school transcript, SAT or ACT test results, letters of recommendation, and an essay relating to your interest in marine biology.

Course Format: Online or Traditional

Most B.S. in Marine Biology programs are only offered in traditional, on-campus formats. They feature extensive amounts of field work and travel to aquatic sites. For instance, one program has its students working with government scientists at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sites. Other programs feature experiential learning and research opportunities at the Belize Barrier Reef. The University of Rhode Island, Boston University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offer top-rated B.S. in Marine Biology degree programs. There are some online marine biology undergraduate programs. Unity College has a 100 percent online B.S. in Marine Biology and Sustainable Aquaculture program.

Possible Career Paths

Careers in marine biology mostly focus on research. With a B.S. in Marine Biology degree, you’ll find exciting careers with state agencies, environmental advocacy groups, and petroleum engineering firms.

#6 Bachelor of Science in Animal Behavior

B.S. in Animal Behavior degree programs teach students about animal biology and how these creatures interact with each other in natural settings. These programs combine the study of the physical and mental functions of animals.

Expected Courses

During your four years as an animal behavior major, you’ll take general math and science courses as well as some classes that are more targeted for your major. Some specific courses that you can expect to take include animal sociology, biochemistry, neurochemistry, and statistical research methods.

Admissions Requirements

To gain admission into top B.S. in Animal Behavior programs, you’ll need to take challenging courses in high school. Besides high SAT or ACT test scores and G.P.A.s, many high-ranking schools give preference to students who have taken at least 34 credit hours of college prep courses in math, physical science, social science, English, and foreign language. They also prefer applicants who have taken advanced placement courses in high school.

Course Format: Online or Traditional

While most of the top-rated animal behavior degree programs are taught only on campus, there are a few schools that offer the degree online. Traditional programs at schools such as Indiana University at Bloomington include some field work that brings theoretical studies of animal behavior to life. However, students who want the flexibility of an online degree program should check out the offerings at the University of New England and Unity College.

Possible Career Paths

The baccalaureate courses that animal behavior majors take prepare them for entrance into D.V.M. programs as well as a variety of careers. Those who’ve earned B.S. in Animal Behavior degrees often find employment as zookeepers, animal trainers, and animal activists. They also work as ecological researchers and support wildlife rehabilitation facilities as technicians and managers.

#7 Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science

B.S. in Environmental Science programs present students with knowledge of the earth’s ecosystems and how humans and animals contribute to their natural surroundings. These programs prepare students to use critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to protect fragile ecosystems.

Expected Courses

If you love the physical sciences, then a B.S. in Environmental Science is a good degree program for you. You’ll take several biology courses such as cellular biology, microbiology, and biological diversity. Chemistry courses such as chemical analysis, organic chemistry, and inorganic chemistry are also required for this major. You’ll even take a course in epidemiology.

Admissions Requirements

You’ll need to demonstrate your interest and abilities in physical science studies by your high school course load. Applicants who’ve earned college credits during their time in high school are often favored over other applicants who took only standard, high school courses. After submitting your official high school transcript and SAT or ACT test results, you’ll likely be asked to write an essay about your interest in environmental science.

Course Format: Online or Traditional

There’s a growing trend toward online education for this degree program. While the B.S. in Environmental Science still requires hands-on field work, many schools such as Southern New Hampshire University have created online programs that support hands-on laboratory work for distance-learning classes. Some traditional and online environmental science degree programs are offered by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Chicago, and the University of Phoenix.

Possible Career Paths

Many environmental science degree holders move into careers with state and federal government agencies as environmental regulators. Others work as consultants, conservation scientists, and sustainability analysts.

#8 Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology

B.S. in Veterinary Technology degree programs cover the clinical aspects of caring for sick or injured animals as well as preventative health care for animals.

Expected Courses

During a four-year degree program in veterinary technology, you’ll take courses in animal anatomy, animal biochemistry, and veterinary microbiology. Many of the top programs introduce students to specialized topics such as animal dentistry, parasitology, and healthcare for shelter animals. You’ll also take a course in animal welfare and ethics.

Admissions Requirements

Admissions requirements for most B.S. in Veterinary Technology programs are fairly selective. Your high school transcripts must demonstrate interest and success in physical science and math. Preference is often given to students who transfer into four-year veterinary technology programs after successfully completing two-year programs at community colleges.

Course Format: Online or Traditional

This degree program is offered in both on-campus and online formats. Online programs usually require students to complete some field work, externships, or experiential learning laboratory sessions in person, however. California Polytechnic University, Becker College, Fort Valley State University, and Florida A&M University offer top-rated undergraduate veterinary technology degree programs that are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Possible Career Paths

Veterinary technology graduates have a clear career path to become veterinary technicians in animal hospitals and clinics after passing the Veterinary Technician National Examination. They also find employment with humane societies, kennels, and wildlife rehabilitation centers.

#9 Bachelor of Science in Equine Studies

B.S. in Equine Studies programs present students with knowledge of horse healthcare, training, and breeding.

Expected Courses

During an equine studies degree program, you can expect exposure to course topics such as equine nutrition, assisted therapies, diseases, and stable management. You’ll take courses that introduce you to the horse industry and its related issues and challenges.

Admissions Requirements

Demonstrating your passion for horses and their welfare goes a long way with admissions officers for equine studies programs. You’ll still need to submit official high school transcripts, SAT or ACT test results, and letters of recommendation.

Course Format: Online or Traditional

Most equine studies degree programs are only offered in traditional, on-campus formats. These programs require students to work directly with horses that are stabled on campus or at nearby sites. However, there’s at least one online B.S. in Equine Studies program that’s available to students nationwide through Post University. The school requires students to have independent access to a horse for its horse care and management field work assignments. Other top-rated programs are found at William Woods University, Oklahoma State University, and Colorado State University.

Possible Career Paths

The career possibilities for equine studies graduates are varied. You can own a horse assisted therapy center or be an instructor at an equine assisted therapy clinic. Horse trainer, barn manager, and horse breeding manager are all career paths for equine studies graduates.

#10 Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Biomedical and Clinical Services

B.S. in Veterinary Biomedical and Clinical Services degree programs focus on clinical care for animals as well as preventative animal health care.

Expected Courses

You can expect to take courses in veterinary anatomy, surgical care, pathology, and infectious diseases.

Admissions Requirements

Besides getting above-average grades in advanced high school math and science courses, you’ll benefit from participating in extracurricular activities that relate to this area of study. Schools that offer top-notch B.S. in Veterinary Biomedical and Clinical Services programs admit students who can demonstrate academic excellence and a passion to serve.

Course Format: Online or Traditional

B.S. in Veterinary Biomedical and Clinical Services degree programs are only offered in traditional, on-campus formats. The University of New Hampshire, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Texas A&M offer some top-rated B.S. in Veterinary Biomedical and Clinical Services degree programs.

Possible Career Paths

Veterinary biomedical and clinical services graduates find employment with veterinary diagnostic laboratories, university biomedical research facilities, and a number of public health centers.

Conclusion

Learning about animals and how you can help them to live their best lives on this planet takes time and a commitment to continuous learning. Success in careers involving veterinary medicine, zoology, and wildlife conservation often require advanced degrees.