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Degree: BS, BA

Campus: Columbus

College: Arts and Sciences

Zoology is the study of animals, from the simplest sponges to the most advanced arthropods, mollusks and vertebrates. The zoology major is housed in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology, which offers courses in the major animal groups (e.g., invertebrates, fish, birds and mammals), as well as courses in evolution, ecology, aquatic biology, conservation, behavior, anatomy and physiology. Completion of the zoology major will provide the proper underlying preparation for post-graduate education (e.g., veterinary medicine, medicine, dentistry, optometry or graduate school), as well as for entry-level jobs across a range of animal-related occupations.

Upon admission to the university, students can declare a major in zoology within the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology.

Zoology requirements cover both supportive courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics and statistics, as well as core requirements within the major itself. Students choose one of two possible degrees:

Bachelor of Science: Requirements include two semesters of introductory biology, two semesters of general chemistry, a semester of organic chemistry, two semesters of introductory physics, a semester of calculus and a semester of statistics.

Bachelor of Arts: Requirements are similar to the BS degree, except that the introductory physics courses and statistics course may be at a lower level and the math requirement is reduced to college algebra. 

The BS degree is more suitable for a student planning a career in a field where quantitative skills are helpful, including most graduate and professional programs.

Core requirements include:

  • Four specific courses, one each in evolution, ecology, organismal diversity and molecular genetics
  • Three additional courses, one course in biodiversity and two in organismal biology, all selected from a list of approved courses

In addition to core requirements, students are free to select elective courses that correspond to their areas of interest. These courses can be either within the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology or (with some restrictions) from other departments. Core courses provide a strong foundation in the most fundamental aspects of zoology, and electives permit students to go more deeply into specific areas of interest or into courses that prepare them for their post-baccalaureate career.

Students have the opportunity to experience biodiversity firsthand through study abroad. Tropical Field Studies is a class at Ohio State in which students travel to Panama to explore tropical biology and conduct research. This class is offered by the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology every other summer. Students may also apply to other study abroad courses offered through Ohio State, including South Africa: Exotic Animal Behavior and Welfare.

Zoology majors seek out internships in zoos, aquaria, and science and wildlife centers. Students are encouraged to apply for internships in state or federal agencies that focus on environmental and conservation issues.

Zoology students in the Honors Program are encouraged to meet with the Honors zoology advisor early in their career to map out a challenging Honors program in zoology. Honors students are particularly encouraged to make research (including, possibly, an Honors thesis) part of their undergraduate experience.

The Ohio State Scholars Program features residential communities for students who share academic interests and career aspirations. Scholars programs of particular interest to zoology students are the Biological Sciences and Health Sciences Scholars programs. The Biological Sciences Scholars Program emphasizes research, with individualized advising and significant lab and field experience. The Health Sciences Scholars Program is focused on preparing students for careers in health sciences and related professions.

The Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology strongly encourages students majoring in zoology to become involved in research. Participating in research helps students develop scientific curiosity and gives students a basis for deciding whether a research career is a good fit for their interests. For information about finding a meaningful research experience, students are encouraged to contact the departmental undergraduate research coordinator.

Zoology students are also encouraged to take summer courses at Ohio State’s “Island Campus,” Stone Laboratory, located on Gibraltar Island in Put-in-Bay harbor, South Bass Island, Lake Erie. This biological field station and research laboratory offers introductory and upper-level courses in biological sciences and is especially suited for field-based courses, such as field ecology and aquatic biology.

The Zoology Club affords another opportunity for becoming more acquainted with the field of zoology. The club is led by undergraduates (with a faculty advisor) and is dedicated to furthering the interests of zoology majors by providing opportunities to interact with faculty, to discuss careers and research areas with scientists from Ohio State and elsewhere, and to participate in service activities. 

A BA or BS in zoology is a liberal arts degree, and graduates may pursue careers for which a liberal education is the prerequisite. Entry level positions would also be open in the sciences, life sciences and biology. For instance, a student with a zoology major would be qualified for a position as a research assistant, technician, or staff member in a research laboratory or in a private company dealing with biological supplies or services.

For positions at a more advanced level, advanced training at the professional or graduate level is usually necessary.

Careers that deal with animals would likely be of particular interest to those who major in zoology. These would include working in a zoo or with federal, state and local agencies, environmental protection, or the park service. Major universities and contract research organizations also hire entry-level technicians to staff their research laboratories. Positions with private consulting firms and nonprofit organizations are also open to zoology majors, and, depending on a student’s interests and background, might include such things as research or writing environmental impact statements.

Zoology students may also intend to pursue a professional degree in medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, an allied field or in environmental law. With proper selection of courses, the necessary preparation for these professional programs can usually be satisfied in the major.

Zoology students who plan to teach in the life sciences at the middle-school or high-school level may obtain a master’s degree in education with one year of graduate work.

A major in zoology provides a good general background in the biological sciences, and thus is excellent preparation for any student wishing to pursue an advanced degree. Students completing a graduate degree in zoology often pursue jobs as teachers in colleges and universities, and such positions provide opportunities for continuing independent research.

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The Museum of Biological Diversity is home to the university's research collections of plants, fungi and animals. Researchers at Ohio State and beyond use the 20 million specimens in the collections to document and interpret biodiversity and evolution. The collections are used directly in teaching subjects like ornithology, botany, mammology and ichthyology, and students play important roles in the museum as volunteers, interns and researchers, helping to make this valuable resource available to the scientific community.  

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