Best College Animal Behavior Degree Programs

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The following is a ranking of the best colleges for a bachelor’s in animal behavior degree.

An undergraduate degree in animal behavior can provide a solid foundation for a career in animal research, rehabilitation, and conservation. Some colleges have a dedicated bachelor’s in animal behavior degree, while others offer a concentration in animal behavior. Animal behavior degree programs emphasize hands-on learning experiences, and many require fieldwork and internships to provide a comprehensive overview of the subject. Most animal behaviorist schools are interdisciplinary and establish strong partnerships with their psychology departments. Animal behaviorists can find employment in various fields, such as:

  • educators
  • zoo curators
  • research assistants
  • animal adoption specialists
  • behavioral ecologists

Featured Programs

Best Animal Behavior Degree Programs Ranking Methodology

To determine the best schools for animal behavior degrees, we used College Navigator to identify a pool of 20 colleges and universities that offer this undergraduate degree or have a strong concentration/focus in animal behavior. From there, we considered each school’s net tuition and graduation rates (as reported by College Navigator), as well as program information from each school’s website. We used the following ranking methodology to identify the top animal behavior degree colleges and included schools that offer a concentration or option in animal behavior.

Overall graduation rates as an indication of student support
90-100%: 5 points
80-90%: 4 points
70-80%: 3 points
60-70%: 2 points
50-60%: 1 point
less than 50%: 0 points

Annual net tuition (Tuition costs were taken from NCES College Navigator)
10k-15k: 5 points
15k-20k: 4 points
20k-25k: 3 points
25k-30k: 2 points
30k-35k: 1 point
35k and up: 0 points

Ranking the Top Animal Behavior Schools

#15 – Eckerd College

Bachelor’s in Animal Studies

St. Petersburg, Florida

Eckerd College logo


Points: 2

Net tuition: $48,900; Graduation rate: 70%

Eckerd College added a bachelor’s degree in animal studies in the fall of 2019 to meet the rising demand of student interest in animal behaviorist programs. This interdisciplinary curriculum explores several facets of the human-animal relationship and allows students to tailor their degrees to personal interests and specific career goals. Directed coursework includes classes in:

  • animal ethics
  • human-animal communication
  • biopsychology

The Eckerd Dog Cognition Lab offers collaborative research projects for students interested in canine behavior. Many local animal facilities welcome Eckerd student volunteers, and a service-learning project is required of all graduates.

#14 – University of New England

Bachelor’s in Animal Behavior

Biddeford, Maine

The logo for University of New England


Points: 2

Net tuition: $40,950; Graduation rate: 60%

The University of New England (UNE) offers an animal behavior program involving mentored research and internships. Their interdisciplinary approach prepares students for various career paths, including:

  • wildlife conservation
  • caregiving in zoos or aquariums
  • animal-assisted therapy

Coursework involves topics related to animal personalities, captive animal management, and animal rehabilitation. The program also includes a pre-vet focus. Graduates of the program have accepted jobs at prestigious organizations, such as the San Diego Zoo, the Georgia Aquarium, and NEADS World Class Service Dogs.

#13 – Florida Institute of Technology

Bachelor’s in Psychology with a concentration in Animal Behavior and Training

Melbourne, Florida

Florida Institute of Technology logo


Points: 3

Net tuition: $43,670; Graduation rate: 60%

The Florida Institute of Technology is one of the few animal behaviorist schools to offer a degree through the psychology department. Students can choose the animal behavior and training concentration and collaborate with the biology department for a multidisciplinary approach. The program offers several opportunities to pursue a career in fields, such as:

  • animal training
  • government and private research
  • wildlife management

Many students complete the required internship at the local Brevard Zoo. The program’s unique Roach Lab rounds out this animal behavior degree.

#12 – Hampshire College

Bachelor’s in Animal Behavior and Cognition

Amherst, Massachusetts

Hampshire College logo


Points: 3

Net tuition: $54,452: Graduation rate: 66%

Hampshire College is unique among animal behavior degree colleges because students customize their curriculum according to personal career aspirations. Hampshire’s School of Cognitive Science offers a concentration in animal behavior and cognition, emphasizing hands-on, inquiry-based experiences. Sample courses include:

  • wild and domestic animal communication
  • primate behavior
  • animal evolution

In addition, the Hampshire Bioshelter is available for those who wish to learn more about aquaculture and marine ecology. Students graduate with a bachelor’s in animal behavior and cognition.

#11 – Utica University

Bachelor’s in Animal Behavior

Utica, New York

Utica University logo


Points: 3

Net tuition: $24,308; Graduation rate: 49%

As with many animal behavior degree programs, Utica College’s bachelor’s in animal behavior is obtained through Biology Department, which prides itself on research-intensive projects and firsthand learning. The animal behavior major prepares students to enter careers related to:

  • teaching
  • veterinarian medicine
  • museum research
  • animal training

Students culminate their studies with a capstone project (seminar or research study). For those interested in animal husbandry and zoo research, the Utica Zoo has partnered with the college to offer research-based experiences and apprenticeships. Students graduate with a bachelor’s in animal behavior.

#10 – Bucknell University

Bachelor’s Animal Behavior Degree

Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

Bucknell University logo


Points: 4

Net tuition: $61,746; Graduation rate: 90%

Established in 1967, Bucknell University is one of the few animal behaviorist schools to house an on-campus primate research lab. The animal behavior school admits only 10 students per year and is heavily focused on understanding animal behavior from evolutionary and ecological perspectives. Animal behavior students take a mix of animal behavior, biology, and psychology courses, including:

  • biopsychology
  • behavioral ecology
  • principles of ecology and evolution

Bucknell’s students are encouraged to engage in laboratory and field research during their studies, and many students opt to pursue animal behavior coursework abroad.

#9 – Unity College

Bachelor’s in Animal Health and Behavior (online)

Unity, Maine

Unity College logo


Points: 4

Net tuition: $12,640; Graduation rate: 66%

Unity College’s degree is the only one offered online of all the animal behaviorist programs. Launched in the fall of 2019, the accredited program allows students to work full-time while pursuing an animal behavior degree. Students can choose from a variety of courses, including:

  • animal health and disease
  • animal care technical skills
  • designing captive animal environments

Unity College’s online degree satisfies most veterinarian school admission requirements, and several graduates have secured jobs as animal caretakers, animal trainers, and lab technicians.

#8 – Carroll University

Bachelor’s in Animal Behavior Degree

Waukesha, Wisconsin

Carroll University logo


Points: 4

Net tuition: $36,190; Graduation rate: 66%

Carroll is one of the few universities with fully dedicated animal behaviorist programs. The animal behavior curriculum places an emphasis on practical skills and is designed to offer a cross-disciplinary approach to studying behavioral biology. Carroll’s students can apply their knowledge and skills at the Prairie Springs Environmental Education Center and the Greene Field Station, which are located within minutes of the campus. Fulfilling the animal behavior degree requires an internship with Racine Zoo, the Wildlife in Need Center, or the Humane Society. An established partnership with the Milwaukee Zoo offers additional student internships and guided research opportunities. Graduates of animal behavior schools such as Carroll University have found employment as:

  • naturalists
  • animal care directors
  • veterinary assistants
  • animal research technicians

#7 – Drake University

Bachelor’s in Psychology with a concentration in Comparative Animal Behavior

Des Moines, Iowa

Drake University Bachelor's in Animal Behavior


Points: 5

Net tuition: $47,742; Graduation rate: 78%

Drake University’s psychology department collaborates with the Biology and Environmental Science and Policy departments to offer a concentration in Comparative Animal Behavior. This animal behavior program incorporates a unique blend of courses to provide a comprehensive perspective on:

  • ethology
  • evolutionary biology
  • behavior genetics
  • neurophysiology

Additionally, Drake promotes fieldwork and laboratory experiences to deepen the foundation of knowledge. Graduates with this animal behavior degree are well prepared for employment in education, wildlife conservation, and ethology, and many students pursue advanced degrees in biology or psychology.

#6 – Canisius College

Bachelor’s in Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation

Buffalo, New York

Canisius College logo


Points: 5

Net tuition: $31,800; Graduation rate: 69%

Canisius College offers a bachelor’s degree in animal behavior, ecology, and conservation. The major provides a strong background in animal conservation and welfare, emphasizing ethical considerations. Expert faculty teach courses such as:

  • animal ethics
  • shelter behavior
  • urban ecology
  • conservation education
  • oo management

Canisius encourages participation in fieldwork, travel, cooperative research, and community outreach to enhance students’ learning experiences. Graduates with animal behavior degrees have transitioned into various career settings, including:

  • animal sanctuaries
  • zoos
  • academia
  • animal rehabilitation centers

#5 – Millersville University of Pennsylvania

Bachelor’s in Biology with Animal Behavior Option

Millersville, Pennsylvania

Millersville University logo


Points: 5

Net tuition: $22,232 (out of state); Graduation rate: 62%

Millersville University does not offer a specific animal behavior major, but students in the biology program can choose animal behavior as a concentration. The well-rounded program emphasizes real-world applications that consider the evolutionary development and physiological mechanisms of how animals behave. Field and laboratory research supplement classroom instruction, and practical experience can be obtained through adviser collaborations and off-campus internships. Graduates from Millersville gain substantial knowledge and training to enter careers with:

  • wildlife conservation organizations
  • research universities
  • museums
  • aquariums
  • nature preserves

#4 – Muskingum University

Bachelor’s in Animal Studies

New Concord, Ohio

Muskingum University logo


Points: 5

Net tuition: $30,690; Graduation rate: 51%

The animal studies program offered by Muskingum University provides students with a close alternative to an animal behavior major. The university provides foundational knowledge by offering classes in:

  • animal studies
  • biology
  • health science
  • philosophy

Students choose electives from the communications and psychology departments, and the low student-to-faculty ratio allows students to build close working relationships with their mentors. As with many animal behavior programs, Muskingum offers opportunities for students to study, volunteer, or intern abroad. Graduates earn a bachelor’s in animal studies.

#3 – Franklin and Marshall College

Bachelor’s in Animal Behavior Degree

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Franklin & Marshall College Bachelor's in Animal Behavior


Points: 6

Net tuition: $65,844; Graduation rate: 86%

Franklin and Marshall’s apprenticeship approach to animal behavior is designed to engage students in collaborative research and challenge them beyond the classroom. Teaching laboratories supplement the core curriculum and provide students with myriad opportunities to present their research at national conferences. Electives are chosen from four areas:

  • mechanism of behavior
  • organismal and comparative approaches
  • ecological and population perspectives
  • cognate studies

The degree culminates with either a directed or independent research project. In addition, the animal behavior degree can be enhanced with a study abroad experience.

#2 – Duke University

Bachelor’s in Biology with a concentration in Animal Behavior

Durham, North Carolina

Duke University logo


Points: 7

Net tuition: $62,688; Graduation rate: 95%

Students majoring in biology at Duke University can narrow their focus by choosing a concentration in animal behavior. This concentration provides majors with an integrated approach facilitated by the biology, psychology, and anthropology departments. Coursework includes electives such as:

  • primate sexuality
  • mechanism of animal behavior
  • sensory physiology and behavior of marine animals

Duke’s animal behavior degree program requires an independent study and a capstone course, and all students are encouraged to apply for a work-study position and/or a summer research program. Potential jobs for animal behavior graduates include:

  • conservation educators
  • vet technicians
  • behavioral management curators
  • primatologists
  • marine biologists

#1 – Indiana University-Bloomington

Bachelor’s in Animal Behavior Degree

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana University - logo


Points: 8

Net tuition: $39,120 (out of state); Graduation rate: 77%

Indiana University-Bloomington ranks at the top of all the animal behavior degree programs. Students enrolled in this animal behavior school will take various courses from ecological, cognitive, and behavioral perspectives. Internships enhance learning through the Center for the Study of Integrative Animal Behavior (CISAB). CSIAB has placed students in various settings, including:

  • wildlife preserves
  • science museums
  • wildlife rehabilitation centers

Students also are encouraged to participate in supervised research in areas such as bioanthropology or cognitive and information science. Graduates with animal behavior degrees find employment as:

  • research technicians
  • animal trainers
  • museum assistants
  • conservation officers

Indiana University-Bloomington’s reasonable tuition and commitment to quality education help it stand out among animal behavior degree colleges.

This concludes our rankings of the Best College Animal Behavior Degree Programs.

CVO Staff
Updated April 2023

This ranking was updated in June 2023. The 2023 updates may affect the ranking order, but the list has not been re-ordered.

This concludes our ranking of the best animal behavior programs.

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