Animal Science Degree

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What is Animal Science?

Animal science refers to the study of domesticated animals for a variety of reasons, including areas such as breeding, nutrition, behavior and biotechnology. Originally the study of animal science was used for farm animals, though over the course of its development has expanded to include domesticated pets, and other such animals, and as a result has also become a precursor to studying veterinary science.

What Do You Do in Animal Science?

Animal Science is an interdisciplinary area of study that integrates biology, botany, zoology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and other sciences with the study of animals.  Within the context of animal science, individuals focus on health, nutrition, breeding, genetics, management, behavior science, physiology, and environmental impact of animals as part of a greater ecosystem.  Curriculum of an animal science degree program can vary widely from one college program to another as the application can focus on farm animals to pets and from laboratory animals to genetic mutations.  As such, some programs allow students to customize a curricular path that suits their individual focus while others mandate a specific set of courses towards degree completion.

As an example, if a student were interested in a farm production career in animal science, the clustering of courses taken could include agriculture, horticulture, agronomy, soil science, economics, and ranch management.   Conversely, if a student was passionate about animal genetics the array of courses would be more science-rich such as biology, anatomy, cell biology, microbiology, biotechnology, and evolutionary biology.

In a recent survey performed by the U.S. Department of Labor, animal scientists provided insights into their daily activities and job duties.  A list of the top 5 job duties of an animal scientist include the following:

  1. Studying the local and global effects of management practices, processing methods, feed, or environmental conditions as related to quantity and quality
  2. Analyzing the nutritional requirements of animals and associated nutrition of animal feed
  3. Communicating key research findings to stakeholders such as animal producers, executives, peers, and the general public
  4. Consulting with farm specialists and producers on optimizing products & techniques to improve animal production
  5. Developing a set of best practices in animal nutrition, disease control, feeding, housing, and sanitation

Educational Requirements

Individuals wishing to study animal science will find that programs are available in colleges and universities throughout the United States. Such programs take approximately four years to complete, varying based on student course load. Upon completion students will have received an education that combines practical experience with a variety of sciences in order to better equip the individual student with the skills necessary to perform their given tasks and duties. Graduate level studies in the field allows for greater specialization of one's education, with PhD studies typically being pursued by individuals interested in research.

Programs may include courses in:

  • Genetics
  • Biology
  • Zoology
  • Animal Behavior
  • Reproduction

As mentioned above individuals may pursue animal science as a precursor to veterinary studies, which in turn requires additional study in order to be able to operate and treat a variety of animals in a medical setting. Such study involves understanding animal physiology, biology, behavior and can be intensive. Additionally, specialization can also be pursued in this field, with veterinarians working on domesticated animals, livestock or exotic animals.

What Colleges Have Animal Science Majors?

As you can readily see from the list of schools below, there are a number of accredited colleges and universities in the United States that offer a degree in animal science.  To learn more about a specific program, you can simply request information from a program found on this resource page or utilize our proprietary matching tool to find programs by state, degree type, individual school type.   Additionally, you can leverage our distance learning matching system if you are interested in earning a college degree in animal science online.  Animal science programs can range from a bachelor’s degree to graduate level programs for students interested in pursing upper-level degrees in the field.  In fact, approximately 30% of students that earn a bachelor’s degree in animal science go on to earn a master’s degree or PhD in animal science.

Schools Other Students Requested Information From:

Employment Opportunities in Animal Science

Individuals with a degree in animal science have a variety of career options available to them in both the public and private sector. The level of interest and type of employment desired typically dictates the areas an individual will enter into, allowing for great diversity of employment for a single area of study. Individuals may work with breeding programs, farms, zoos, biotechnology companies, provide behavior modification services and more. Due to the nature of the field some individuals may choose to establish their own businesses relating to the care, treatment and training of animals for domestic purposes.

Employment may also be pursued in public organizations, such as awareness groups, shelters, or and the like, or for non-profit organizations that promote better treatment of animals. Private companies involved in research require individuals with higher levels of education, allowing for the development of treatments and products geared at animals. Education positions also require higher level degrees, particularly for those seeking to teach at the college level.

Job Growth, Salary, and Related Fields

Animal Science careers are expected to see continued growth over the next decade, primarily for in the area of food production with animals that provide meat and poultry for consumption. The increase in employment opportunities is attributed to the need for more efficient and healthier food sources through better breeding methods and care giving technologies.   How much an animal scientist makes a year depends on a number of factors like experience, location, job setting, and work hours.  The median annual income for an animal scientist is $60,330 with an expected 8% job growth over the coming decade.  The amount of money you will make as an animal scientist will depend on your work experience, level of education, geographic location, job duties, and organizational structure.  Individuals interested in animal science may also be interested in animal nutrition, poultry science, and livestock management.

Top Job Titles of an Animal Scientist

When researching jobs and job opportunities in the field of animal science, it is useful to have an understanding of similar job occupations and job titles in your quiver.  As such, we have gathered a quick list of associated job titles for animal scientists to help you understand the span of titles in the field.  The top job titles of an animal scientist include:

  • Animal Nutrition Consultant
  • Dairy Nutrition Consultant
  • Research Center Partner
  • Nutritionist
  • Research & Development Director
  • Animal Nutritionist
  • Beef Cattle Specialist
  • Research Nutritionist
  • Animal Scientist
  • Research Scientist

Additional Resources

The American Society of Animal Science (ASAS), is a national and international organization that provides its members resources related to the field of animal science, and promotes the development of methods and technologies in order to better the relationship between humans and animals. This is accomplished through the dissemination of information of information regarding scientific care, the application of new technologies, diversity of membership and the assertion that animals are necessary for human life and well being.

The American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) provides certification examinations for individuals seeking employment and professional growth. The organization works with five professional societies in order to promote its services and goals. Membership to ARPAS provides professional credibility, education services, access to publications in advances in the field, and other relevant services for professionals.

As an additional resource, you can also read our blog post titled Top College Degrees for Animal Lovers for more information.

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Career Summary: Animal science Major




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