Animal behavior is the scientific study of everything animals do. The field of animal behavior examines the causes, functions, development, and evolution of behavior including the stimuli that affect behavior, whether external (food or predators) or internal (hormones or nervous system). The function of behavior includes both the immediate effects of behavior on an animal and the adaptive significance of the behavior in a particular environment. The development of behavior is concerned with how behavior changes over an animal’s lifetime. The evolution of behavior is concerned with origins of behavior patterns and how these change over generations. More information about the degree can be found here.
If you are interested in ecology, zoology, or evolution; wildlife management, conservation or rehabilitation; animal training; veterinary medicine; or careers in zoos, aquariums, or natural history museums, this degree might be a good choice for you.
The Animal Behavior B.S. degree attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:
- A desire to work with animals, approaching the study of their behavior from a scientific perspective
- Interest in interdisciplinary studies, particularly among anthropology, biology, cognitive science, neuroscience, and psychology
- A fascination with comparative studies of the behavior of human and non-human animals
- Curiosity regarding how genes, physiology, and the environment influence behavior
- Passion for conservation and environmental issues
There are numerous career paths to explore if you earn an Animal Behavior B.S. degree. Many students plan to attend graduate school to continue their research or obtain advanced degrees in fields such as wildlife conservation. Others wish to work in a setting with animals or pursue a program in veterinary medicine. Students who plan to attend veterinary school must complete additional prerequisite courses to fulfill their requirements.
What options are available?
The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Animal Behavior gives you in-depth training in the interdisciplinary study of behavior and its relation to evolution, ecology, and physiology. Your coursework is designed to give you the ability to communicate scientific research relevant to animal behavior.
You gain a basic background in the life sciences, as well as specific training in the science of animal behavior, with courses in biology, psychology, and anthropology.
Through a combination of traditional lecture and lab courses, as well as individual supervised research in faculty laboratories and/or internship experiences in animal behavior, you develop an understanding of the environmental, social, evolutionary and physiological principles that form the basis of the scientific study of animal behavior.
You can earn a certificate in Animal Behavior as part of completing the bachelor’s degree and in addition to completing requirements for a major. The certificate is a credential that indicates a more substantial concentration compared to a minor, and specifically requires at least 3 credit hours of internship (ABEH-X473) or independent research in a CISAB faculty member’s lab. To help plan your degree program and track your progress, you can use our Minor checklist and certificate summary.
A minor in Animal Behavior complements majors in fields such as biology, psychology, or anthropology, allowing you to more deeply explore this emerging interdisciplinary field. To help plan your degree program and track your progress, you can use our Minor checklist.