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Wildlife Biology Colleges and Careers

The work of a wildlife scientist is as diverse as the species itself. As a specialist in this sector, you might assist with contentious problems such as climate change and the impact of recent wildfires on Australian koalas. Alternatively, you could be working in a lab to develop a novel way for measuring a rare biological marker that few people are interested in. Before we talk about Wildlife biology colleges, let’s discuss what wildlife biology is itself.

As humans’ impact on the world expands, wildlife biology is becoming increasingly vital. At the same time, the vast majority of wildlife biologists work for state or federal natural resource agencies, which are frequently underfunded. Competition for wildlife scientists can be fierce, with high educational requirements and a difficult work-life balance. 

Wildlife biology is frequently referred to as a “passion career” because it can be tough to break into and because pay isn’t as great as other fields. To put it another way, it’s a field where determination and enthusiasm are required to succeed. However, if you’re well-informed and have balanced the benefits and drawbacks, it may be a really satisfying career.

What are the responsibilities of wildlife biologists? 

Wildlife biologists are in charge of studying and controlling many types of wildlife populations. Many federal and state wildlife scientists are involved in wildlife population management. They are in charge of determining how many animals of various kinds are present in their management region, as well as what causes population fluctuations. They may also be involved in management decisions such as establishing harvest (i.e., hunting) guidelines or altering habitat to increase or decrease wildlife populations based on public demand.

Others work as wildlife biologists in research. Rather than concentrating on how to influence wildlife populations, they concentrate on the science of how populations change. Although this data may be utilized to make management decisions, wildlife scientists are not always involved in the process. 

What Does It Take to Become a Wildlife Biologist? 

Unlike many other occupations, being a wildlife scientist is not easy. To succeed, you’ll need a lot of education and experience in the relevant areas. 

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Your area of knowledge and relationships will determine a large part of your success. You might have worked as a wildlife technician, conducting surveys on rusty blackbirds, for example. There are plenty of other people who have worked with birds, but if a position opens up for those who have worked with rusty blackbirds, you’ll have an easy “in” for the job. If not, you may need to keep looking for work.

As a teaching assistant or research assistant, though, it’s usual to get a tuition waiver and a basic living stipend once you’ve earned a master’s degree or higher. You won’t have to pay for your graduate degree this way. 

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Wildlife biology colleges are listed below

Several top-ranked schools offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs in wildlife biology to students interested in the topic. Learn about the different programs and departments at a few of these top colleges. 

Students who major in wildlife biology are prepared for professions as wildlife managers or recreation planners. A wildlife biology or fisheries and wildlife biology curriculum could involve fish ecology and physiology and lead to a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. The four colleges listed below are either top-ranked universities or have top-ranked biology programs. 

Grand Forks, North Dakota’s University of North Dakota 

The University of North Dakota (UND) is a research university that was ranked 110th in the top public schools list by US News & World Report in 2017. The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology degree at the University of North Dakota prepares students for jobs in federal and private fisheries and wildlife organizations. Evolution, animal behavior, botany, and mammalogy are among the subjects covered by students. For students interested in teaching and research roles, Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs with a specialty in wildlife biology are also available. 

It’s worth noting that the Biology Graduate Student Association at UND started a mentoring program to help new graduate students get started in the program and develop networking among students from other biological specialties.

Missoula, Montana’s University of Montana 

The University of Montana (UM) is a public university that was ranked 115th in the best graduate schools for biological sciences by U.S. News & World Report in 2014. Students can pursue an M.S. or Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology at UM. The master’s degree program comprises a graduate seminar in wildlife biology and includes a thesis or non-thesis option. The Ph.D. program requires a graduate seminar and a dissertation. 

The Avian Science Center, the Fish and Wildlife Genetics Lab, and the Human Dimensions Lab are among the faculty research laboratories in the program.

Manhattan, Kansas is home to Kansas State University. 

Kansas State Institution (KSU) is a public university that was listed in the top 75 public schools by US News & World Report in 2017. The College of Arts and Sciences at KSU offers a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology. Physics, ecology, and chemistry courses are required, as well as 11 credits of electives such as mammalogy and entomology. 

The Arthropod Genetics Center, the Ecological Genomics Institute, and the Institute for Grassland Studies are all part of the biology department’s interdisciplinary research projects. 

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Brigham Young University is a public university in Provo, Utah. 

Brigham Young University, founded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is a private university that was ranked 68th among national universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2017. The Biology Department offers bachelor’s degrees in biodiversity and conservation, while the Plant and Wildlife Science Department offers bachelor’s degrees in wildlife and wildland conservation.

What is the difference between wildlife biology and zoology? 

Wildlife biology can be thought of as a sub-discipline of zoology in general. Wildlife biologists are mostly concerned with wild creatures, such as those that are endangered, threatened, or influenced by environmental changes. In the field of wildlife biology, there may be a greater emphasis on conservation. The line between the two can be blurry at times, and there are working wildlife biologists with a zoology degree. 

Where Can I Find a Program That Is Right for Me? 

Although the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) includes only 24 institutions that may offer wildlife biology programs, it also lists 97 schools that offer wildlife, fish, and wildlands sciences management programs. In addition, the NCES recognizes 67 colleges that provide zoology and animal biology programs. You might be able to find a school that matches your demands if you look into the individual schools. 

Wildlife biology programs are available through one of the school’s departments, divisions, or colleges. These include biology, natural resources, and zoology, as well as life, earth, and environmental sciences, forestry, and conservation. You may be able to take advantage of—and get credit for—one of the many federal internships available via the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a student or recent graduate.

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What Kinds of Undergraduate Degrees Are There? 

An Associate of Science in Biology degree with a focus on pre-wildlife biology or wildlife biology is available at a number of community colleges. These are two-year programs that prepare students for transfer to a four-year institution and a bachelor’s degree. 

Some programs don’t include all of the general-education requirements needed to pursue a bachelor’s degree straight, so you’ll need to figure out what you’ll need to do in your junior and senior years. Although most associate’s degree programs cover a substantial amount of chemistry and biology, certain programs are more comprehensive. Plant and fungal biology, animal geology, natural resources, and ecology are some of the subjects they might teach. A certain degree of fieldwork may be emphasized by schools. 

Though a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) is the most frequent bachelor degree in wildlife biology, colleges may also offer a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) (B.A.). A foreign language requirement may be included in the B.A. program. You might be able to acquire a B.S. in Wildlife and Wildlands Conservation if you’re interested in conservation. Schools may allow you to specialize in either terrestrial animals (which focuses on birds and mammals) or aquatic studies (which focuses on freshwater ecology, hydrology, and fish). 

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Animal behavior, wildlife management, ecology, conservation biology, herpetology, and wildland soils are all common college courses. Over the course of a four-year curriculum, required internships are typical in addition to outdoor labs. As a graduate, you may be eligible to work as a wildlife inspector, biologist, or refuge manager with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Is it possible to get a graduate degree? 

A two-year program consisting of coursework and independent study for a Master of Science in Animal Biology usually takes two years to finish. You create your own program based on your area of interest with the support of a faculty advisor and committee. A thesis is written and defended as part of a 30-credit curriculum. You write and defend a shorter, professional paper in a 36-credit program. You may be required to fulfill a foreign-language requirement if it is deemed necessary for your field of study. 

The requirements for a Ph.D. in Animal Biology differ by school. Particular schools need a certain amount of graduate semester credits, while others only suggest that you take some classes. The program can take 4-6 years to finish in either instance. All programs require you to prepare and defend a dissertation, and you will undertake your research with faculty consultation. Some colleges additionally require you to take extensive written and oral exams on your curriculum.

Which Universities Offer Wildlife Biology Master’s Degrees? 

In-depth study in subjects such as wildlife concerns, conservation, and natural resources is included in master’s degrees in wildlife biology. Professionals in the field will benefit from the online options. 

  • A Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management with a Fish and Wildlife Management Concentration is available from American Public University. 
  • Oregon State University offers an online Professional Science Master’s in Fisheries and Wildlife Administration. 
  • Colorado State University offers an online Master of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology (FWCB) degree.

What Universities Offer Wildlife Biology Doctoral Degrees? 

State and national parks are home to a number of relevant graduate programs in wildlife biology. Here are a few PhD programs that are available in locations where wildlife is abundant. 

  • Fisheries Science and Wildlife Science is offered as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program at Oregon State University. 
  • Montana State University offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program in Fish & Wildlife Biology. 
  • The Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at Colorado State University provides a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program. 
  • Undergraduate and graduate degree programs provide a variety of wildlife biology courses. Students can even enroll in programs that are delivered via distant education.

We hope this article will help you decide on the best wildlife biology colleges.

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