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Wildlife Biology Degree

Do you love spending time with animals in natural surroundings? Have you ever considered pursuing a career in wildlife biology? Wildlife biologists study animals and other species living in the wild. Not only do they study wild life, but they also find out how species interact with their environment. They study very interesting aspects of wildlife such as animal behaviors, physical characteristics of animals, and how humans have an effect on wildlife and their habitat. Although, wildlife biologists are normally known for working with animals and wildlife in natural surroundings, they are required to work in laboratories and offices as well.  You will often find wildlife biologists observing animal characteristics and behaviors and conducting experiments in a laboratory. They also need to work with other zoologists or wildlife biologists on different projects. Besides, they write reports on their findings and share these findings with policy makers, colleagues, and the public.

What are the degrees available in wildlife biology?

If you are planning on getting a wildlife biology degree, it would be useful to know that a degree in wildlife biology will normally focus on wildlife conservation or wildlife population management. The degree will also focus on the relationship between wildlife and its environment. Wildlife biology degrees include bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees. In order to acquire higher level positions in the field, it is important for you to have a master’s degree. However, if you want to join academia or research, you would need a PhD degree.

Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Biology

A bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology offers two main concentrations: wildlife and fisheries. The first two years of the degree have similar courses for both concentrations and after that students begin to complete courses related to their concentration. Students not only get classroom instruction, but also acquire field experience and work in laboratories. A lot of time is generally spent in studying ecology and different aspects of environmental conservation. Some bachelors programs may also help you get certification from the Wildlife Society or the American Fisheries Society.  In order to get admission in the bachelor’s degree, you would generally need to have a high school diploma and pass the entrance exam. Other than that, you would need to complete a college preparatory track which includes courses in biology, laboratory procedures, social studies, mathematics, and English. Although, courses offered may vary depending on the institute, students normally complete a number of general biology courses and also courses in physics, chemistry, and math. Some courses that are specific to wildlife biology include forestry, ecology, fisheries science, ornithology, and fresh water ecosystems.

Master’s Degree in Wildlife Biology

You will often find two types of masters degrees in wildlife biology. One is offered without thesis, while the other requires students to submit a thesis at the end of the degree. If you wish to work in wildlife research or want to get a PhD later on, you would need to opt for a master’s degree with thesis requirement. Masters degree in wildlife biology would help you develop an in-depth understanding of wildlife. You would gain extensive knowledge on topics such as habitat analysis, environmental preservation, resource management, and population biology. In order to get admission in a master’s program, you would need a bachelor’s degree. Most programs require students to have a high GPA and you may also need to pass an entrance exam. Other admission requirements may include resume, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. Masters degree in wildlife biology is based on advanced level courses such as wildlife management, ecotoxicology, ichthyology, and wildlife population measurement.

PhD in Wildlife Biology

If you are planning on becoming a manager or wildlife researcher in public agencies, you would need a PhD in wildlife biology. University professors also need to have a PhD degree in wildlife biology. PhD program in wildlife biology is focused on research and students also need to spend quite a lot of time in the field. As a PhD student, you would often work under the supervision and guidance of an advisory committee or a professor. Major focus areas of the degree include wildlife, resource management technology, and fisheries. The program also covers areas such as conservation biology, biodiversity, behavioral ecology, and wildlife toxicology. For admission into the PhD program, you would need to have a master’s degree and relevant work experience. Most PhD programs also need students to pass an entrance exam. As a PhD student, you would have to go through rigorous research and study. Other than your coursework, you would need to complete requirements such as research papers, dissertation, teaching, residency, and final exams. Important topics that are a part of PhD program include research methodology, statistics, habitat analysis, wetland ecology, conservation genetics, and population dynamics.

Can I find online programs in wildlife biology?

A number of online programs are available in wildlife biology. However, online programs generally have wide variations and you should always prefer an accredited degree program to get quality education and secure career opportunities. Although, accredited online programs in wildlife biology are much more flexible and convenient, they follow a similar coursework as that of campus based programs. Some online programs may also require practical work in laboratories at a location near you. While accreditation is the most important factor to consider before enrolling in an online wildlife biology program, you may also keep in mind other factors such as tuition costs, alumni feedback, coursework, qualifications of faculty, and general standing of the school.

What will be my salary and career prospects as a wildlife biologist?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for wildlife biologists and zoologists was $57,710 in May 2012. The lowest ten percent in the field earned less than $37,100, while the top ten percent earned an annual salary of more than $95,430. In addition, BLS has projected the employment opportunities for wildlife biologists for the next ten years. According to the figures on BLS website, the employment opportunities for wildlife biologists are likely to grow at 5 percent between the years 2012 and 2022.  Many zoologists and wildlife biologists would be required to find out the effects of development and population growth on wildlife and its habitat.


States with the highest employment level in this occupation:



Employment per thousand jobs

Location quotient

Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage

California 16600.111.2618.1337720
Florida 11300.141.6817.9737370
Illinois 9600.161.9217.937240
Texas 7600.070.7816.6234570
New York 6500.070.8520.1241840


Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:What is a masters in wildlife biology?

A:Wildlife biology includes the study or a variety of disciplines including ecology, mathematics and chemistry to study animals and other organisms in their habitats. People with a graduate program in wildlife biology can work as game warden, habitat managers, endangered species specialists, researchers and soil conservationists, among other potential careers.

Q:What course topics are taught in wildlife biology graduate programs?

A:In higher level degrees of wildlife biology, the typical course structure includes subjects such as wildlife management techniques, issues in wildlife conservation, biometry, plant biology, ichthyology, mammalogy, animal health and nutrition, wildlife handling, soil science, legal issues in wildlife management, contemporary issues in biometrics, statistical issues in wildlife biology, landscape ecology and so on.

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