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The Breakdown

Zoology, unlike the name implies, is not the study of the building and maintenance of zoos (though that could be a fascinating topic on its own). Instead, it’s actually the branch of the natural sciences that examines animal biology. If you are captivated by everything from genetics to evolution and looking for an education that delivers a broad scope, then perhaps zoology is for you.

At most universities, zoology is often a subset within the biology department. As a major, zoology addresses every level of biological organization. Indeed, classes cover topics ranging from physiology to animal behavior. You’ll study the diversity of life, the structure of ecosystems and how different species function within said ecosystems. In addition to classroom and laboratory work, you can expect to partake in field work along with some independent research projects.

Successful zoology majors tend to be enamored with the natural world, whether examining a hissing cockroach from Madagascar or an 8-week old French bull dog. They also have a marked curiosity about the interplay between living things and their environment. Moreover, they have keen observational and analytical skills. And they can easily segue between individual research and group projects. Lastly, they are cool with (and have the stomach for) dissections.

Nuts and Bolts

Zoology majors tend to have schedules filled with classes such as Evolution, Invertebrate Biology, Organic Chemistry, Calculus, Vertebrate Biology, Principles of Physiology, Symbioses and the Environment, Embryology and Development, Mammalogy, Dinosaur Biology, Comparative Anatomy, Aquatic Entomology, Marine Ecology, Biogeography and Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles.

Decisions, Decisions…

Clearly, zoology majors are drawn to the sciences and, more specifically, to learning about how life functions. Therefore, they are also often interested in studying biology, chemistry, biochemistry, neuroscience, animal science, microbiology, wildlife management, ecology, forestry, genetics and environmental science.

What’s Next?

Majoring in zoology could be the first step to any number of rewarding careers within science and scientific research. Upon graduation, many zoology majors seek out entry level positions in wildlife management, with environmental assessment and impact firms and/or zoos and animal sanctuaries. These jobs exist both within government agencies and the private sector. More specifically, potential job titles include biostatistician, biochemist, hatchery technician, marine biologist, game warden, herpetologist or environmental educator. However, often times, in order to move forward professionally, advanced degrees are needed. Therefore, many zoology majors ultimately pursue PhDs in biology, ecology, conservation biology or, naturally, zoology. Finally, a handful of graduates apply annually to medical, dental or veterinary schools.


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Don Munce