Imagine your perfect day, the one in which you are free to do whatever your heart desires.
Can you picture yourself casting your line into a lake? Dozing off next to a peaceful creek? The ascent of a mountain path by bicycle?
A career in wildlife biology could be ideal for the adventurous type.
Understanding the scientific method and being able to think analytically are prerequisites in the field of wildlife biology. You’ll need top-notch faculty and facilities to conduct research and test your hypotheses at the university you’re planning to attend.
The degree, however, opens up many more doors for you. It’s a great excuse to spend time in the fresh air. You can incorporate activities like swimming and birdwatching into your workday. The best wildlife biology degrees also typically include fieldwork at nature preserves where such activities are permitted.
While that may sound exciting, it’s important not to lose sight of the other elements of a successful program in favor of the fun ones. Access to the outdoors is important, but so are qualified teachers and sufficient materials.
It’s not as easy as taking a stroll through the park to stumble upon institutions like those. The top ten wildlife biology degree programs in the United States are ranked, and details about each school’s curriculum are provided.
Read through this directory, make your school choice, and then go back outside to where you belong.
Find out about the top programs in wildlife biology below.
Best wildlife biology schools
Colorado State University – Fort Collins
Colorado State University – Fort Collins is a great option for any student interested in wildlife biology. Colorado State University is a large public institution that serves the city of Fort Collins. With a Best Colleges ranking of #151 out of 2,241 institutions, Colorado State is a highly regarded educational institution.
In the most recent year for which data is available, roughly 130 students majoring in wildlife biology graduated from Colorado State.
Ohio University – Athens Campus
If you want to study wildlife biology, you won’t find a better school than Ohio University’s Athens Campus. There is a large student body at Ohio University Athens, which is located in the small town of Athens, Ohio. Ohio University in Athens is a fantastic institution, earning a Best Colleges ranking of #259 out of 2,241 schools in the United States.
The most recent data we have indicates that roughly 17 students from OHIO Athens earned a degree in wildlife biology.
Kansas State University
Manhattan, Kansas is home to K-State, a public university with a massive student body. With a Best Colleges ranking of #231 out of 2,241 schools, K-State is a highly regarded institution.
In the most recent data year, approximately 21 students majoring in wildlife biology graduated from K-State.
University of North Dakota
Located in the middle of Grand Forks, UND is a sizable public university. With a Best Colleges ranking of #257 out of 2,241 schools, UND is a highly regarded institution.
The most recent available data suggests that UND awarded bachelor’s degrees in wildlife biology to around five students.
South Dakota State University
South Dakota State University’s fisheries and wildlife sciences degrees are designed for future conservationists. Students can expect to be well-prepared for careers in state and federal government, as biologists or park naturalists, as hatchery managers, and more.
Courses are offered that teach students about the diversity of organisms in natural populations and their connections to humans. Hard skills in statistics and technology are taught, but students also gain invaluable “soft skills” like teamwork, leadership, and ethics.
The faculty at San Diego State University has worked in their fields for many years and are ready to share their knowledge with students. Dr. Charles Fenster is included; his work in the field of green infrastructure has earned him numerous prestigious accolades and grants.
It’s no surprise that SDSU graduates have found employment with the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, and state departments of natural resources across the country with access to resources like those mentioned above.
University of New Hampshire
The University of New Hampshire’s location near the Atlantic Coast and within an hour of the White Mountains provides students with exposure to a diverse array of ecosystems. Students at UNH get both hands-on experience in the field and the opportunity to analyze their data in a cutting-edge laboratory.
Conservation biology, big game management, conservation genetics, and population ecology are just some of the fields that this college prepares students for.
UNH’s wildlife and conservation biology program is an integral part of the school’s $110 million research endowment, making it a top-tier research institution.
With programs like New Zealand’s EcoQuest Study Abroad, undergraduates can gain hands-on experience in ecology, resource management, and environmental policy through meaningful work on cutting-edge projects.
Students can find the tools and funding they need to pursue their own interests at the Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research. Moose habitat research and an analysis of the effects of the European Monetary Union are just two examples of previous projects.
Brigham Young University
ESC Eyring Science Center, by Mark A. Philbrick (Brigham Young University), CC BY-SA 3.0
Some people might not think Utah is the best place to study wildlife biology, but they haven’t checked out the opportunities at Brigham Young University.
The recently constructed Life Sciences Building provides students with cutting-edge classroom and lab space, as well as access to cutting-edge equipment and vehicles. Students can use these tools to gain access to remote areas and conduct controlled experiments to test their hypotheses.
The school has invested in these amenities to better prepare its students for successful careers in the field of natural resource management. Students can tailor their education to their individual passions with a foundation in ecological and biological principles and a wide variety of elective options.
If you want to broaden your horizons beyond the United States, BYU offers a wide variety of study abroad programs. The natural history studies of today’s students can take them all the way to Western Europe, Africa, Australia, and beyond.
Utah State University
Though another Utah school did make the cut, only Utah State University has a natural resources-focused college. The unique wildlife biology program at UST also provides students with opportunities to learn about humane approaches to wildlife conflict.
The program is built around the university’s various research centers.
The Center for Integrated BioSystems is at the forefront of agricultural and life science innovation through its multidisciplinary focus.
The Center’s achievements, which include the first hybrid animal’s cloning, have earned it a spot among Popular Science’s 30 Awesome College Labs.
Administration’s Ecology Center facilitates interdepartmental communication and cooperation in ecological research and education.
Researchers from all of the country’s land-grant universities have a place to gather and conduct research thanks to the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station.
It’s clear why UST is at the top of this list, given all the backing it receives.
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
At SUNY College, the focus of the Environmental Science and Forestry program is on finding ways to make everyone happy. The program considers itself to be a continuation of pioneering work in the field that began in 1914.
The school’s applied ecology-based curriculum instructs students in the art of wildlife management for both threatened and abundant species. The scientists of the future in this view collaborate with all forms of life, from plants to invertebrates.
Students gain valuable work experience by participating in the program’s many field stations. The Adirondack Ecological Center’s 15,000 acres are an invaluable resource for international studies of specific locations. The Ecological Center, in the middle of the six million acre Adirondack Park, runs one of the most important conservation and sustainability experiments in the world.
Hilltops, lakes, small ponds, bogs, and stream drainages are all accessible to students at the Cranberry Lake Biological Station in the Adirondacks. It lies near the third-largest lake in the region.
Auburn University’s School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences provides a wide variety of specialized courses. Because of its location in the American south, Auburn has access to wildlife populations and human needs that are specific to the region. Because of these factors, the university can provide courses that its competitors cannot.
The university offers one of only two bachelor’s degrees in wildlife enterprise management in the entire country. Professional hunting and fishing trips are provided by those who have earned this degree in the private sector. The students learn not only the basics of running a business, but also how to protect the natural habitat in which they operate.
Students can expect to learn how to balance ethical considerations with practical realities as they prepare for careers as facility directors at hunting/shooting ranges, managers at fishing resorts, or outdoor adventure promoters.
University of Maine
Established in 1935, the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology at the University of Maine allows students to follow their interests in research. Thanks to cross-departmental efforts, students in the College of Natural Sciences can take classes ranging from aquatic animals to natural resource management.
Students can put their knowledge to use in the many areas rich in natural resources close to the school. The university safeguards nearly 15,000 acres of woodland, and among those acres are trails suitable for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing.
Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, located not far from campus, is home to a variety of wildlife including deer, moose, bears, beavers, and bobcats, among others. Acadia National Park and the Maine coast are both within easy driving distance of the campus.
These examples demonstrate how the curriculum at the University of Maine encourages students to combine their free time with their paid work. They believe that ecological preservation can and should be fun.
Texas State University (San Marcos, TX)
Humans have an impact on the environment, and Texas State University recognizes this. As a result, both the undergraduate and graduate wildlife programs there seek to inspire students to find fresh ways to connect with nature while also protecting existing populations.
The school provides lessons on a variety of outdoor activities, including fishing, birdwatching, and picnicking. However, it also includes lessons that bring attention to the ecological realities of modern life. In these classes, students gain knowledge in the fields of natural history and wildlife management.
The research agenda of the department benefits from this pragmatic approach. TSU has many opportunities for students to participate in faculty research and long-term projects.
An active Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society may be the best indicator of the university’s commitment to environmental protection, though. The department’s mission is grounded in its employees’ desire to preserve and promote outdoor recreation and quality of life.
Are Wildlife Biologists frequent travelers?
It’s possible that not all wildlife biologists and zoologists get extensive field experience. It is not uncommon for wildlife biologists and zoologists to conduct fieldwork in far-flung locales. Scientists studying whale populations, known as “cetologists,” sometimes spend weeks or even months at sea.
To what degrees is wildlife best suited?
Wildlife conservationists come from a variety of academic backgrounds, but those most interested in the field should study wildlife biology, fish and wildlife management, or wildlife and forestry conservation. Each of these initiatives has a slightly different focus on wildlife conservation, but they all have relevance to the field as a whole.
This analysis shows that all of the schools under consideration offer courses and programs that help students become knowledgeable stewards of the environment. Pick a university that offers classes you’re interested in and/or has resources for your area of study.
In addition to working with one another, most universities also have ties to separate research facilities. If you want to pursue Wildlife Biology as a career, you’ll need to be ready to put in a lot of time in the classroom and out in the field. Math, statistics, ecology, geography, and possibly even law are all required for this degree.
Since there is a lot of competition in this field, it is also recommended that you pursue a graduate degree and maybe even a few extra minors.