Best Zoology Schools

Updated on January 3, 2024

Zoology is the study of animals and animal behavior. It is a broad field that includes disciplines like anatomy, physiology, cell biology, ecology, genetics, ethology, and evolution. Some of the top zoology schools in the country offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs in zoology and related fields. When researching the best zoology colleges, important factors to consider include academics, research opportunities, facilities, location, cost, and more.

Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, MA

Rating: 10/10

Acceptance Rate: 5%

Avg SAT Score: 1510

Tuition: $51,000 per year

Avg Salary: $72,000


Description: Harvard University is considered one of the best schools in the world for zoology. It has exceptional academics and abundant research opportunities. The museum of comparative zoology houses over 21 million specimens and offers unmatched resources for students.

University of California – Berkeley

Location: Berkeley, California

Rating: 9.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 16%

Avg SAT Score: 1390

Tuition: $41,000 per year for non-residents

Avg Salary: $65,000


Description: UC Berkeley has a top-ranked zoology program and access to incredible natural habitats for animal research, like the Sierra Nevada mountains. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in integrative biology, with concentrations available in animal behavior, ecology, and evolution.

Duke University

Location: Durham, North Carolina

Rating: 9.4/10

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Avg SAT Score: 1500

Tuition: $59,000 per year

Avg Salary: $72,000


Description: Duke University has exceptional faculty conducting innovative animal behavior and physiology research. Undergraduate students can earn a BS in Biology or BA in Evolutionary Anthropology and graduate students can pursue a PhD in various zoology related programs.

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Rating: 9.2/10

Acceptance Rate: 23%

Avg SAT Score: 1440

Tuition: $52,000 per year for non-residents

Avg Salary: $59,500


Description: The University of Michigan has top zoology and animal biology programs. Undergraduate students can earn a major or minor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Graduate students can pursue a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology or Organismic and Evolutionary Biology.

Ohio State University

Location: Columbus, Ohio

Rating: 8.9/10

Acceptance Rate: 55%

Avg SAT Score: 1280

Tuition: $27,000 per year for non-residents

Avg Salary: $47,300


Description: At Ohio State, undergraduates can major in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology while graduates can earn MS and PhD degrees in Biological Sciences. It offers ample research opportunities through partnerships with the Columbus Zoo.

University of Florida

Location: Gainesville, Florida

Rating: 8.7/10

Acceptance Rate: 37%

Avg SAT Score: 1320

Tuition: $30,000 per year for non-residents

Avg Salary: $45,300


Description: The University of Florida has an exceptional zoology and animal science program. Undergraduates can major or minor in Zoology while graduates can pursue a PhD focused on animal genetics, behavior, systematics, ecology, and more.

University of Wisconsin – Madison

Location: Madison, Wisconsin

Rating: 8.6/10

Acceptance Rate: 57%

Avg SAT Score: 1370

Tuition: $38,000 per year for non-residents

Avg Salary: $49,500


Description: University of Wisconsin – Madison offers highly-regarded zoology degrees including unique programs in wildlife ecology. Undergraduates can earn a Zoology major through the biology program while graduates can pursue MS and PhD degrees.

Cornell University

Location: Ithaca, New York

Rating: 8.6/10

Acceptance Rate: 11%

Avg SAT Score: 1480

Tuition: $57,000 per year

Avg Salary: $63,500


Description: Cornell University has an Ivy League zoology program allowing students to study animals in natural habitats including the Finger Lakes. Undergraduates can major in Biological Sciences while graduates can pursue Animal Science degrees including PhD’s.

Pennsylvania State University

Location: State College, Pennsylvania

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 56%

Avg SAT Score: 1280

Tuition: $35,000 per year for non-residents

Avg Salary: $52,800


Description: Penn State allows undergraduate students to earn degrees in Biology, Vertebrate Physiology, Genetics & Developmental Biology and more. Graduate students can pursue MS and PhD programs with concentrations relating to genetics, physiology, cell biology, and anatomy.

Texas A&M University

Location: College Station, Texas

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 63%

Avg SAT Score: 1260

Tuition: $38,000 per year for non-residents

Avg Salary: $54,700


Description: Texas A&M has highly-regarded animal science and physiology programs. Undergraduates can major in Animal Science, Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, or Biology. Graduates can earn MS and PhD’s in subjects like Genetics, Physiology, and Neuroscience.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What types of degrees can I pursue in zoology?

Typically, you can pursue undergraduate degrees in biology, zoology, animal science, wildlife biology, marine biology, or ecology. Graduate students can pursue master’s degrees and PhDs that concentrate on a particular field of zoology like animal behavior, physiology, evolution, genetics, systematics, or cell biology among others.

What classes can I expect to take as a zoology major?

Common zoology classes cover topics like animal diversity, anatomy, physiology, evolution, ecology, cell biology, genetics, animal behavior, wildlife conservation, and more. You’ll also take foundational biology courses in chemistry, physics, calculus, and statistics.

Do I need a graduate degree to become a zoologist?

While you can find entry-level roles as a zoologist with a bachelor’s degree, most permanent jobs require an MS or PhD in zoology, biology, animal science or a related discipline. Graduate degrees open up more job opportunities in areas like research and academia.

What skills are most important for zoology students?

Important skills for zoology students include biology lab techniques, quantitative skills, critical thinking, attention to detail, computer modeling, report writing, statistical analysis, and oral communication. Experience collecting samples outdoors or handling wildlife is also useful.

What types of animals can I study as a zoologist?

Zoologists study a vast array of species in the animal kingdom including mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, amphibians, insects, arachnids, mollusks, and more. Many zoologists concentrate on studying a particular species they find interesting.

What types of jobs are available for zoology majors?

There is a diverse array of potential zoology careers including zoologist, wildlife biologist, marine biologist, zookeeper, animal behavior research scientist, wildlife conservationist, animal breeder, animal trainer, museum curator, park ranger, genetics counselor, science writer, ecologist, and college instructor among others.

Is fieldwork required to earn a zoology degree?

Most zoology degree programs incorporate some element of hands-on fieldwork studying animals in natural habitats. This provides invaluable experience collecting samples, tracking species populations and migrations, observing behavior, and more. Internships also offer fieldwork opportunities.

Should I specialize or generalize my zoology studies?

While specializing allows you to focus deeply on a particular species or aspect of zoology, a generalized curriculum offers wider career prospects upon graduation. Many students strike a balance, specializing at the graduate level after receiving generalized exposure to the field through their undergraduate coursework.

How competitive is admission to top zoology graduate programs?

Admission into elite graduate programs like those at Harvard, Berkeley, and Duke is highly competitive with average GPAs around 3.7 and GRE scores in the 90th percentile. Gaining extensive research experience through lab positions and internships can help strengthen your application.

What is the job outlook for zoologists?

The job growth for zoologists is projected to be around 8% between 2016-2026 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, faster than the average across all occupations. Job prospects should remain strong for candidates with advanced degrees willing to relocate for opportunities with zoos, government agencies, pharmaceutical firms, and research organizations.

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