Do you like working with animals and understanding how they behave? If so, you should consider majoring in ethology. If you choose an ethology program, you'll likely be awarded a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Animal Behavior. As a major in this field, you'll use psychological and scientific approaches to study the behavior of animals and how they respond to their environment. Read on to learn more. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Does an Ethology Major Entail?
Ethology is the science of how animals behave and interact with one another. Bachelor's degrees in this field are more commonly awarded in animal behavior, and you can pursue either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.). If you pursue a B.S., your curriculum will likely have more natural science courses, while a B.A. may require more coursework in the humanities.
As an animal behavior major, you'll explore how biology and psychology are combined to predict and study animal behavior. You may study certain animal behaviors, such as mating, communication, feeding, emotional response and herd organization. You'll acquire in-depth knowledge of the animal learning process by reading scientific literature, conducting experiments, analyzing biological samples and combining approaches from several scientific and psychological schools of thought. Due to the laboratory and supervised research requirements, you will generally be required to complete your degree on-campus.
What Courses Will I Take?
Your curriculum may combine seminars with hands-on laboratory courses that feature animal dissection and live animal experimentation. Your seminars will cover a variety of topics in science and psychology, including:
- Molecular and cellular biology
- Eating behaviors
- Interactions between plants and animals
- Comparative psychology and ethology
- Primate behavior
- Animal cognition
- Behavioral neuroscience
Your degree program may culminate in a senior thesis or research project in which you will explore an area of interest in-depth. Some degree programs require you to complete an internship.
What Can I Do With This Degree?
Being an ethology or animal behavior major can help you if you wish to pursue a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree and become a veterinarian. You can also work as a wildlife biologist or zoologist. You can qualify for some positions with only a bachelor's degree, but those with master's or doctoral degrees will have better opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for biological scientists should increase by 21% between 2008 and 2018; however, growth will be limited within specialized disciplines, such as those in zoology (www.bls.gov). The median wage of zoologists was $56,500 in 2009.
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