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Overview of the Animal Science Degree

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The animal sciences major offers an opportunity to apply animal biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and other life sciences to the study of animal breeding and genetics, nutrition, physiology, growth, behavior, and management. The curriculum can be applied to a great variety of species, from farm animals and pets to laboratory animals and even some exotics. Students are encouraged, with the help of a faculty advisor, to plan an individual curriculum that suits their interests and career goals. The animal science major provides excellent preparation for students who wish to find positions immediately upon graduation, as well as those (approximately one-third) who plan to enter graduate or professional schools to obtain advanced degrees.

Graduates are prepared to pursue careers in a variety of animal-related fields including:

  • veterinary medicine,
  • dairy production and management,
  • animal feed industry,
  • biomedical research,
  • biotechnology,
  • wildlife conservation,
  • farm management,
  • working with businesses and financial institutions, government agencies, private foundations and
  • teaching/education.

Courses and Academic Opportunities

Students specializing in animal science have the opportunity, with the help of their advisors, to develop a curriculum that fulfills individual interests and allows a broad selection of courses. For example, a student interested in a production-oriented career might take courses in agronomy, farm management, agricultural engineering, and economics to complement their animal science courses. On the other hand, students with a more basic interest in animal biology might take organic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, and other courses in the biological and physical sciences. While one student may be captivated by the molecular biology of the developing embryo, a classmate may be equally fascinated by the nutrition in the domestic cat or by the mathematics of genetic selection in the horse. No two students need to have identical programs.


Animal Science major - requires five foundational competency courses, one animal management course, and two professional values and responsibilities courses. Students then choose between four concentrations with varying requirements to customize their academic experience.

Animal Science  minor requires a minimum of fifteen credit hours. The courses need to be taken from Foundation courses (or equivalent), Animal Biology Systems and Advanced Animal Biology. Please consult with an Animal Science advisor for specific information regarding courses.

Special Opportunities

Credit in undergraduate research or teaching is available for undergraduate students each year. Students can seek out opportunities to serve as an undergraduate teaching assistant in one or more of the ANSC courses during the program. Teaching provides a unique opportunity for in-­depth understanding of the material and communicating with other students. Undergraduate TA opportunities are competitive and require permission from the instructor.

Credits for teaching

ANSC 4980 - Undergraduate Teaching in Animal Science (1-­‐6 credits, Fall/Spring)

Other programs

  • The undergraduate honors program is an option for seniors with adequate credentials who demonstrate a strong interest in research.
  • The Dairy Fellows program is designed for undergraduate students who have a sincere interest in dairy farming and closely related careers.

International Dimensions

Many faculty are involved in international activities. Students with an interest in animal production (or any of the animal science disciplines) and how it relates to tropical conditions or developing countries have an excellent opportunity to incorporate international research into their study programs by working with our faculty.

Career Opportunities

Graduates walking on graduation day

Because the program is flexible and the field so diverse, animal science graduates go in many interesting directions - research, veterinary medicine, animal production, agribusiness, biotechnology, medicine, conservation, education, and many others. Some recent graduates have pursued careers in animal production (dairy, beef, sheep, swine, poultry, or horses). Many others have chosen to work in a variety of agricultural businesses (e.g., banks, feed companies, pharmaceutical companies) or in the educational field (e.g., high schools or extension). Still others use knowledge acquired in international agriculture courses for foreign assignments such as the Peace Corps or International Voluntary Service.

Advanced Degrees

Many undergraduates go on to graduate and professional schools for advanced degrees in diverse research areas, including animal physiology, genetics, nutrition, growth biology, animal management, and human and veterinary medicine. Many students who earn MS or PhD degrees eventually take research positions at universities, biomedical laboratories, industry, or government.