Study Wildlife Biology: Master's Degrees & Online Course Info

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What kind of job can you get with a master's degree in wildlife biology? Find out program requirements, online options and info on courses and wildlife biology programs.
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Master's Degrees, Training and Courses at a Glance

Wildlife biologists seek to understand animal behavior and ecology. They also explore challenges that arise as people's habitations push up against those of indigenous animal populations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this is a competitive field that is expected to experience below-average growth (7%) in the coming years. The BLS also notes that a master's degree can be a good choice for those seeking to enter this field. For those who have completed an undergraduate or graduate degree, but seek more education in the field, courses in wildlife biology are available individually.

Master's Courses
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in seeking positions in wildlife biology and related fields in the private or public sector Individuals seeking further education to strengthen job applications or develop specific skills for current positions
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Wildlife biologist ($57,000)*
- High school biology teacher ($54,000 - with teaching certification)*
- Biological technician ($39,000)*
- Wildlife biologist ($57,000)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years full time Varies by course
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 10-12 courses
- Master's thesis
- Master's exams
- Determined by course
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree in biology or related field Prerequisites vary by course and school
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Master's in Wildlife Biology

Students in master's programs in wildlife biology explore aspects of biology that focus on wildlife, wildlife management and conservation. These programs are rare and most commonly found in geographical areas where wilderness is available and wildlife management is a significant part of the economy. Competition for these programs, and the resulting careers, is generally significant.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Master's and bachelor's graduates in wildlife biology often compete for the same entry-level positions, and those with further education might have an edge
  • Master's degree programs in wildlife biology also can prepare you for upper-level positions
  • These programs may be tailored to your specific career needs

Cons

  • Entry into wildlife biology careers is competitive
  • Students who have completed a wildlife biology program compete for positions with those who have more general degrees in the biological sciences
  • Specific areas of wildlife biology research might dictate which jobs you're qualified for

Courses and Requirements

Core courses for these programs vary, and students often can tailor their curricula toward specific prospective careers. Additionally, some programs offer both thesis and non-thesis options. In general, courses teach students to analyze, predict and understand animal behaviors. They might cover such topics as:

  • Wildlife biology
  • Behavioral studies of animals
  • Comparative and systematic biology
  • Conservation biology
  • Ecosystems and sustainability
  • Evolutionary principles
  • Vertebrate survival and migration
  • Wildlife habitat and ecology

Online Degree Options

Programs specific to wildlife biology are not currently offered online. However, for those seeking online options, some master's degree programs in biology are available.

Stand Out with This Degree

Wildlife biologists work in many environments, so students should take advantage of opportunities to develop their abilities in various environments, as well as to perform scientific duties in many conditions. Having experience in the wilderness and laboratories, coupled with experience with animals, can enhance your chances of becoming a career wildlife biologist.

Courses and Training in Wildlife Biology

Students can pursue classes in wildlife biology through traditional or online formats, or they might opt to take part in activities through research stations, allowing them to develop hands-on skills in wilderness settings. Traditional courses might be offered through wildlife biology programs, more general biology programs or wildlife and fisheries programs. Some universities do not require enrollment at their particular school to take part in individual classes.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Individual classes in wildlife biology can be selected to address specific gaps in knowledge
  • These classes can strengthen your wildlife biology skills without commitment to a full program
  • Some classes provide the opportunity to perform research

Cons

  • Individual courses might not count toward a degree
  • On-campus courses and research station programs might require you to travel
  • Advancement within a career might require completion of a graduate degree, not just completion of individual classes

Courses and Requirements

Courses available for individual training are broad and varied; however, course options might be limited if students accepted into a degree program are given first priority. Courses might cover such topics as:

  • Ecology and human interaction
  • Ecology and laboratory applications
  • Field ecology
  • Flora systematics
  • Modeling methods in biology
  • Waterway biomonitoring

Online Training Options

If you're seeking to expand your knowledge of wildlife biology through online courses, there are options available. Despite the hands-on nature of some aspects of wildlife biology, especially research, these courses can be used to strengthen a resume and develop knowledge of wider geographical areas' biological attributes.

Get Ahead with These Courses

To get ahead with individual courses, carefully consider what coursework will benefit you in applying for jobs or advancing in your career. Additionally, you might devote time to volunteering with wildlife biologists and other animal specialists to develop contacts in the field and hands-on experience that can set you apart from other applicants.

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