Although there are no actual graduate degrees in zoo and aquarium science, there are options that closely connect to this field. The majority of post baccalaureate programs offer Master of Science (MS) degrees in zoology or marine biology that will satisfy the requirement for those seeking employment in either zoos or aquariums. These programs focus on instructing students on the biology of animals typically held in captivity as well as the basics of animal training, management skills for budgeting and timing, policies and regulations.
Oregon State offers a thesis-driven MS in zoology with a concentration in either ecology and evolutionary biology, physiology and behavior or development and cell biology. Within these specific areas, students can choose to focus on behavioral biology at all levels, marine biology, biodiversity and reproductive biology among a range of topics. The program also includes research at several locations including the Hatfield Marine Science Center and the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest.
University of Wisconsin at Madison also offers an MS in zoology with a faculty that ranges in specialization from cell biology, neurobiology, biochemical systems, aquatic and ecosystem ecology to plant-herbivore interactions, ornithology and animal behavior.
Zoology and Marine Life
The University of Wyoming offers an MS in zoology and physiology. The UW is best known for its Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit and for operating inside a national park (Yellowstone) with a field station located within the park. The University of Wyoming has the latest microscopy, nucleic acid and macromolecular sequencing facilities and offers research assistantships for funding projects.
Students can earn an MS in zoology from the University of New Hampshire. The areas of focus include ecology, cell and molecular biology and physiology. The campus location near the Coast gives access to freshwater, coastal and oceanic ecosystems.
Since those who study marine biology focus on aquatic life, they are often hired to work at aquariums to maintain and study those ecosystems. The College of Charleston offers a marine biology MS. Students have access to the Grice Marine Laboratory on James Island and the Fort Johnson Marine Science Center. The campus' location is a great environment to assess marine ecology.
The MS in marine biology at Northeastern University is a full-time program that lasts 15 months. It includes coursework, a research project and an internship of six months. The program is linked to the university’s Three Seas Program, which allows students to study in three different ecosystems, the northeast and northwest coasts of the U.S. and the Caribbean coast near Panama.
Michigan State University offers an intensive program for a Professional Master of Science in zoo and aquarium management. This degree aims to prepare students seeking managerial opportunities in zoos and aquariums. The program requires an internship, oral examination and completion of the Business Management and Communication Skills Certificate. It gives the option of taking credits instead of writing a thesis. Courses include biodiversity; park and recreation administration and policy; conservation and genetics; legal aspects of parks, recreation, and sport; and quantitative methods in ecology and evolution.
Colorado State has a two-year master's program for professional natural sciences that prepares students for the operation and maintenance of animal sanctuaries including zoos and aquariums. The program covers business, agriculture, veterinary medicine, biology and natural resources.
For those interested in a short-term, one-year program, Plymouth University in the United Kingdom offers the MS in zoo conservation biology. Courses include animal conservation, applied animal behavior, management, metabolism, health and welfare as well as research methods, business management and introduction to zoo biology and zoo organization.
- Oregon State University: Zoology
- Association of Zoos & Aquariums: Education Programs for Zoo and Aquarium Careers
- UW-Madison: Zoology
- University of Wyoming: Zoology and Physiology
- College of Charleston: Marine Biology Graduate Program
- Northeastern: Professional Science Master's Marine Biology
- Michigan State University: Professional Master of Science in Zoo and Aquarium Management
- Colorado State University: Programs
Jeanette Garcia works as an adjunct professor for writing and rhetoric I and II and as a writing tutor at Florida International University. When she's not sleeping, eating, teaching, watching films or reading, she writes.