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Classes One Should Take in College to Become a Wildlife Biologist

by Jillian L. Wendt

Taking the right courses in college can further your career as a wildlife biologist. While gaining a background in wildlife conservation, you will also gain essential knowledge in liberal arts and science. A degree in wildlife biology will afford you knowledge in the areas of ecology, population biology and conservation biology according to the University of Montana. There are several degree programs and courses that will provide the pathway to successful completion of a wildlife biology degree.

Bachelor's Degree

Some colleges and universities offer a bachelor's degree in wildlife science. Adams State University requires students to complete 120 credit hours to earn a bachelor of science in general studies. To earn an endorsement in wildlife biology, Adams State University requires a total of 30 credit hours to be completed in the areas of general biology, genetics, cellular biology, ecology, evolution, wildlife management and fisheries management. Additional required courses include 6 credit hours in ornithology, mammalogy and herpetology, 6 credit hours in zoology, anatomy, entomology and ichthyology, and 6 credit hours in plant systematics, plant morphology, plant physiology and plant ecology. Support courses that you will need to complete include chemistry, algebra and statistics.

Master's Degree

You will find greater opportunities for employment in wildlife biology by completing a master's degree according to the University of Montana and Utah State University. While programs vary depending on the college or university, the University of Montana offers three degree pathways for completion of a master's degree in wildlife biology: Terrestrial, Aquatic and Honors. The Terrestrial pathway at the University of Montana requires ornithology, mammalogy, biology, rangeland management, silviculture, physiology, habitat conservation and management, wildlife conservation and management, wildlife policy and natural resource policy. The Aquatic pathway at the University of Montana requires botany, biology, ecology, parasitology, evolution, entomology, physiology, fisheries, hydrology, wildlife management, wildlife policy and natural resource policy. The Honors pathway includes a combination of the courses required for the terrestrial and aquatic pathways. While programs vary according to university, other universities -- such as Utah State University -- have similar requirements.

Doctorate

Only a few universities offer a doctor of philosophy degree in wildlife biology according to Utah State University. If you plan on completing a Ph.D., plan on completing a master's degree and an additional 30 credits. Another option allows completion of a Ph.D. without a master's degree, which will require you to complete a total of 60 credits. Utah State University requires a minimum of 12 dissertation credits for the degree as well as an academic residency for study, research and approval from the faculty.

Considerations

Any wildlife biology degree will provide opportunities for employment in the areas of wildlife, fisheries and forestry as well as conservation, preservation and management. A wildlife biology degree can also open doors for employment as a research scientist, faculty member, extension consultant or environmental consultant. Before you choose which degree path to follow in order to become a wildlife biologist, consider that opportunities for employment increase with graduate and post-graduate degree completion at the state, federal and private employment levels, according to the University of Montana.

About the Author

Based in Northern Virginia, Jillian Wendt has been in science and teacher education for eight years. She has been writing education-related articles for practitioner and research journals for several years. She holds a Doctor of Education in curriculum and instruction from Liberty University. Dr. Wendt is passionate about education and is a fervent reader, writer and researcher.

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