An undergraduate degree in animal behavior can provide a solid foundation for a career related to 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 hand-on learning experiences, and many require fieldwork and internships to provide a comprehensive overview of the subject. Most animal behaviorist schools take an interdisciplinary approach and establish strong partnerships with their psychology departments. Animal behaviorists can find employment as educators, zoo curators, research assistants, animal adoption specialists, and behavioral ecologists.
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
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
Net tuition: $36,200; Graduation rate: 70%
Eckerd College added a bachelor’s degree in animal studies in fall 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, and 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
Net tuition: $35,400; Graduation rate: 60%
The University of New England (UNE) offers an animal behavior program replete with mentored research, as well as internships. Their interdisciplinary approach prepares students for various career paths, including wildlife conservation, caregiving in zoos or aquariums, and 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 concentration in Animal Behavior and Training
Net tuition: $34,139; 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, and 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
Net tuition: $32,569: Graduation rate: 66%
Hampshire College is unique among animal behavior degree colleges in that students customize their own curriculum according to personal career aspirations. Hampshire’s School of Cognitive Science offers a concentration in animal behavior and cognition that emphasizes hands-on, inquiry-based experiences. Sample courses include wild and domestic animal communication, primate behavior, and 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 College
Bachelor’s in Animal Behavior
Utica, New York
Net tuition: $22,600; 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, and 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
Net tuition: $40,400; 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 the evolutionary and ecological perspectives. Animal behavior students take a mix of animal behavior, biology, and psychology courses including biopsychology, behavioral ecology, and 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)
Net tuition: $27,000; Graduation rate: 66%
Of all the animal behaviorist programs, Unity College’s degree is the only one offered online. Launched in fall 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, and designing captive animal environments. Unity College’s online degree satisfies most veterinarian school admission requirements, and several graduates have secured job as animal caretakers, animal trainers, and lab technicians.
#8 – Carroll University
Bachelor’s in Animal Behavior Degree
Net tuition: $25,100; Graduation rate: 66%
Carroll is one 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 study 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. Fulfillment of 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 opportunities for student internships and guided research. Graduates of animal behavior schools such as Carroll University have found employment as naturalists, animal care directors, veterinary assistants, and animal research technicians.
#7 – Drake University
Bachelor’s in Psychology with concentration in Comparative Animal Behavior
Des Moines, Iowa
Net tuition: $29,100; Graduation rate: 78%
Drake University’s psychology department collaborates with the Biology and the 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, and 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
Net tuition: $22,000; 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 with a particular emphasis on the ethical considerations. Expert faculty teach courses such as animal ethics, shelter behavior, urban ecology, conservation education, and zoo 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, and animal rehabilitation centers.
#5 – Millersville University of Pennsylvania
Bachelor’s in Biology with Animal Behavior Option
Net tuition: $21,000; 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 the 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, and nature preserves.
#4 – Muskingum University
Bachelor’s in Animal Studies
New Concord, Ohio
Net tuition: $19,050; 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, and 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
Net tuition: $26,100; 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 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, and cognate studies. The degree culminates with either a directed research project or an 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 concentration in Animal Behavior
Durham, North Carolina
Net tuition: $23,928; 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, and 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, and marine biologists.
#1 – Indiana University-Bloomington
Bachelor’s in Animal Behavior Degree
Net tuition: $13,300; Graduation rate: 77%
Of all the animal behavior degree programs, Indiana University-Bloomington ranks at the top. Students enrolled in this animal behavior school will take a varied selection of courses from the ecological, cognitive, and behavioral perspectives. Learning is enhanced with internships through the Center for the Study of Integrative Animal Behavior (CISAB). CSIAB has placed students in a range of settings, including wildlife preserves, science museums, and 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, and conservation officers. Indiana University-Bloomington’s reasonable tuition and commitment to quality education help it stand out among animal behavior degree colleges.
Updated April 2020
- Biology Degree Online
- Geology Degree Online
- Bachelor’s Oceanography
- Bachelor’s Marine Biology
- Bachelor’s Marine Science
- Best Online Colleges