Zoology is the study of biological life in all forms. Students who decide to become zoology majors focus on both individual organisms as well as their relationships to each other and to their environment. A Bachelor of Science degree in zoology introduces students to a variety of topics from evolution and ecology to marine biology and botany. Students who major in zoology become prepared for graduate school, medical school, dental school or veterinary school, in addition to a career in education, government or research.


Zoology majors must complete a certain number of science and non-science requirements before moving on to more advanced coursework. Generally students are required to take the two-semester introductory sequences in biology, which surveys both cell and molecular biology as well as evolution and ecology. General chemistry and physics are also required, in addition to one semester of organic chemistry. Required math courses include calculus and statistics.

Cell and Molecular Biology

Students majoring in zoology should be able to understand the biological structure and function of cells and molecules in living things. At least one course in cell and molecular biology is required for the degree, including microbiology, cell biology, molecular biology, immunology and embryology. According to the Oregon State University website, students may choose between these courses and others such as symbiosis and the environment, insect physiology and symbioses and the environment.

Evolution, Ecology and Conservation

It is essential that zoology majors become aware of the relationships organisms have with their environment and the importance of conservation. Many future zoology careers include conserving the environment and acting as a defender for animal life. Courses in this area at Oregon State University include plant ecology, insect ecology, paleobiology, marine ecology and a course taught in the history department titled Theory of Evolution and Foundation of Modern Biology.

Organismal Physiology

Courses on the structure and function of biological systems and aspects of animal behavior are required for students studying zoology. Students generally take around two or three of these physiology courses. Oregon State University offers courses such as genetics, animal behavior, mammalogy, comparative anatomy, dinosaur biology, ornithology and insect physiology, among others. These courses often come with lab work and dissection.

Zoology Electives

An important aspect of a zoology degree is that it can be specialized to suit any postgraduate plans a student may have. For example, students planning on pursuing veterinary school can focus more on vertebrate anatomy, whereas students planning on entering ecological or environmental research may take courses in supervised research. The University of Florida zoology department allows students to specialize in one of three tracks--zoologist, pre-professional or education. These opportunities allow students to focus on specific needs for their future careers.

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