10 Best Animal Behavior and Ethology Colleges in 2024

best colleges for animal behavior
best colleges for animal behavior

Ever wondered why your dog wags its tail when you come home or how a flock of birds flies in perfect formation? That’s animal behaviour in action! The study of animal behaviour, otherwise known as ethology, is like being a super-detective for animals. You get to figure out why they do what they do – how they learn, communicate, and survive in the wild.

If you’re fascinated by the animal kingdom and want to turn that passion into a career, then this article on the 10 best colleges for animal behaviour is for you! These colleges are not just academic institutions; they are gateways to a world where you can explore the behaviours of diverse species, contribute to conservation efforts, and discover the complexities of the animal kingdom.

So, if you ever thought of becoming a wildlife biologist, animal behaviourist, or research scientist, these colleges will nurture your curiosity and equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to make a difference in your animal adventure.

What are the Requirements for Entering an Animal Behavior and Ethology Program?

While requirements may vary among different programs, let’s explore common prerequisites and recommended skills that can set you up for success:

It’s no surprise that a solid foundation in biology can be highly beneficial. Understanding basic biological concepts, such as genetics, ecology, and physiology, will help you grasp the complexities of animal behaviour. Some programs may require specific coursework in biology or related sciences as a prerequisite.

Curiosity and Observation Skills

Curiosity is the fuel that drives scientific inquiry! A keen sense of observation and a genuine curiosity about animal behaviours are key qualities to develop. The ability to pay attention to details, notice patterns, and ask thought-provoking questions will greatly enhance your understanding of the field.

Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills

Animal behaviour and ethology involve analyzing complex data and formulating hypotheses. Developing strong critical thinking and analytical skills will help you evaluate research findings, design experiments, and interpret results. Foster your ability to think critically and approach problems from different angles.

  • Passion for Animals and Ethical Considerations: A genuine passion for animals and their welfare is crucial. Studying animal behaviour requires a deep respect for the creatures you’re studying. Understanding ethical considerations surrounding animal research, conservation, and welfare is essential for making informed decisions and conducting responsible research.
  • Communication and Writing Skills: Effective communication is vital in the scientific community. Strong writing skills will help you articulate your research findings, present scientific arguments, and communicate complex ideas to different audiences. Develop your ability to write clearly, concisely, and persuasively.
  • Research Experience: While not always required for entry into an undergraduate program, having some research experience can give you a competitive edge. Seek out opportunities to assist professors, volunteer at research labs, or participate in independent research projects. Hands-on experience will deepen your understanding of research methods and demonstrate your commitment to the field.
  • Collaboration and Interpersonal Skills: Animal behaviour research often involves collaboration with other scientists, fieldwork teams, and even the general public. It is valuable to be able to work effectively in teams, communicate ideas, and collaborate with diverse individuals. Foster your interpersonal skills to thrive in collaborative settings.

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Factors to Consider for Choosing a Great Animal Behavior and Ethology School?

When choosing a great animal behaviour and ethology school, there are several important factors to consider. Here are some key considerations to help you make an informed decision:

Academic Reputation

Look for schools with a strong academic reputation in the field of animal behaviour and ethology. Consider the faculty’s expertise, research publications, and the school’s overall standing in the scientific community.

Curriculum and Specializations

Review the curriculum and course offerings of prospective schools. Ensure that the program covers a wide range of topics related to animal behaviour, including behavioural ecology, animal cognition, and evolutionary biology. Look for schools that offer specializations or concentrations that align with your specific interests.

Research Opportunities

Check if the school provides ample research opportunities for students. Hands-on experience and involvement in research projects are invaluable for gaining practical skills and making significant contributions to the field. Look for schools that have well-equipped labs, fieldwork opportunities, and collaborations with research institutions.

Faculty Expertise

Explore the backgrounds and research interests of the faculty members within the animal behaviour and ethology department. Consider their expertise and their involvement in current research projects. A faculty with diverse research interests and experience can provide valuable mentorship and guidance.

Facilities and Resources

Assess the resources available to students, such as research facilities, laboratories, libraries, and access to specialized equipment. These resources can greatly enhance your learning experience and enable you to conduct meaningful research.

Fieldwork Opportunities

Consider the school’s proximity to diverse ecosystems and research sites. Fieldwork is essential for studying animal behaviour in natural habitats. Access to varied environments allows for a more comprehensive understanding of different species and their behaviours.

Collaboration and Networking

Check if the school has collaborations with other research institutions, organizations, or wildlife centers. Collaborative opportunities can provide exposure to different research methodologies, expand your professional network, and open doors for future career prospects.

Alumni Success

Research the career paths and achievements of alumni from the animal behaviour and ethology program. Alumni success can indicate the quality of education and the opportunities provided by the school. Look for programs that have produced successful professionals and researchers in the field.

Student Support and Advising

Consider the level of support and guidance provided to students. Look for schools that offer academic advising, mentorship programs, and opportunities for networking and professional development. A supportive environment can enhance your learning experience and help you achieve your goals.

Financial Considerations

Evaluate the cost of tuition, availability of scholarships, and potential funding opportunities. Consider the financial aspects of attending each school and ensure that it aligns with your budget and financial resources.

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10 Best Colleges for Animal Behaviour and Ethology Colleges in 2024

The right college for animal behaviour and ethology is crucial for your academic and professional development. Each of these institutions offers unique strengths, faculty expertise, research opportunities, and a supportive learning environment.

  • University of California, Davis
  • Bucknell University
  • Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Franklin and Marshall College
  • Arizona State University
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Zurich
  • Max Planck Institute for Ornithology
  • Cornell University

#1. University of California, Davis

Nestled in sunny California, the University of California, Davis, ranks as the best college for animal behaviour and ethology. With a strong Department of Animal Science, UC Davis offers a comprehensive program that allows students to specialize in various areas, including animal cognition, conservation biology, and animal welfare.

What sets this university apart is its emphasis on hands-on learning and research opportunities. Students have the chance to work with cutting-edge technologies and conduct experiments both in the lab and out in the field.

If you’re fascinated by marine life, mammals, or even insects, UC Davis provides a supportive environment for exploring your interests and making significant contributions to the field of animal behaviour.


#2. Bucknell University

Tucked away in the scenic countryside of Pennsylvania, Bucknell University may be smaller in size, but it certainly packs a punch when it comes to animal behaviour education. With a dedicated faculty and a close-knit community, Bucknell offers a personalized learning experience. Hence, why it’s ranked as one of the best colleges for animal behaviour.

The Animal Behavior Program at Bucknell focuses on the interdisciplinary nature of the field, combining biology, psychology, and ecology.

Students have the opportunity to engage in hands-on research projects, study animal communication, and explore the complexities of animal social dynamics. The university’s commitment to experiential learning ensures that students graduate with a well-rounded understanding of animal behaviour and are prepared for exciting careers in the field.


#3. Indiana University, Bloomington

Located in the vibrant city of Bloomington, Indiana University stands out as one of the best colleges for animal behaviour and ethology. The Department of Biology offers a diverse range of courses that delve into the intricacies of animal behaviour, evolutionary biology, and ecology.

Indiana University students have access to state-of-the-art research facilities and benefit from the expertise of esteemed faculty members. The university’s strong emphasis on research allows students to participate in groundbreaking studies, expand their knowledge, and make valuable contributions to the field.

Indiana University provides a stimulating environment to explore your passion for birds, mammals, or insects.


#4. Franklin and Marshall College

Situated in the historic city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Franklin and Marshall College offers a unique and engaging animal behaviour program. The Department of Biology, with a focus on integrative approaches, provides students with a solid foundation in ethology, evolutionary biology, and ecology.

Small class sizes allow for personalized attention and foster close relationships between students and faculty. Franklin and Marshall College also emphasize experiential learning, providing opportunities for students to conduct research and participate in fieldwork.

By studying animal behaviour at this institution, you’ll not only gain a deep understanding of the subject but also develop critical thinking skills and a strong scientific mindset.


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#5. Arizona State University

If you’re looking for a vibrant and innovative environment to study animal behaviour, Arizona State University (ASU) won’t disappoint. ASU’s School of Life Sciences offers an exciting program that combines biology, psychology, and ecology to explore the complexities of animal behaviour.

With access to cutting-edge research facilities and a diverse faculty, ASU students have the opportunity to delve into a wide range of topics, from animal cognition to behavioural ecology.

The university’s commitment to sustainability and conservation also provides unique opportunities for students interested in the intersection of animal behaviour and environmental issues. ASU’s dynamic campus culture and collaborative research environment make it an excellent choice for aspiring animal behaviourists.


#6. University of Cambridge

Steeped in tradition and renowned for academic excellence, the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom offers a world-class animal behaviour and ethology program. The Department of Zoology provides a comprehensive curriculum that covers various aspects of animal behaviour, evolution, and ecology.

What sets Cambridge apart is its rich history of groundbreaking research in the field. Students have the privilege of learning from leading experts and engaging in cutting-edge studies that shape the future of animal behaviour research.

The university’s prime location also offers unique opportunities for fieldwork and collaborations with renowned research institutions. By studying at Cambridge, you’ll be part of a long lineage of scholars who have contributed significantly to our understanding of the natural world.


#7. University of Oxford

Next on our list of best colleges for animal behaviour is the University of Oxford. It is a hub of excellence for animal behaviour and ethology. The Department of Zoology at Oxford offers a rigorous and comprehensive program that explores the complexities of animal behaviour and evolution.

Students have access to state-of-the-art research facilities and work closely with renowned faculty members who are at the forefront of their fields. Oxford’s academic environment encourages critical thinking, fosters independent research, and provides opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations.

The university’s commitment to fieldwork and conservation also ensures that students gain practical experience and contribute to real-world conservation efforts. By studying at Oxford, you’ll be part of a vibrant academic community and receive a world-class education in animal behaviour.


#8. University of Zurich

Situated in the heart of Switzerland, the University of Zurich offers a unique perspective on animal behaviour and ethology. The Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies provides a dynamic learning environment, combining evolutionary biology, ecology, and behavioural science.

Students at the University of Zurich have the opportunity to study a wide range of animal species, from primates to insects, and explore various research methods. The university’s interdisciplinary approach encourages collaboration between different fields of study, encouraging creative research and a holistic understanding of animal behaviour.


#9. Max Planck Institute for Ornithology

For those with a particular interest in avian behaviour, the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany is a world-renowned research institution. The institute focuses on the study of birds and their behaviour, offering unparalleled expertise and resources in the field.

Students have the opportunity to work alongside leading ornithologists, conduct cutting-edge research, and contribute to groundbreaking discoveries. The institute’s dedication to ornithology provides a unique and specialized educational experience for those passionate about the fascinating world of bird behaviour.


#10. Cornell University

Nestled in the picturesque town of Ithaca, New York, Cornell University is widely recognized for its exceptional animal behaviour and ethology program. The Department of Neurobiology and Behavior offers a comprehensive curriculum that combines neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology.

Cornell students have access to world-class research facilities, including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates. The university’s strong emphasis on research and experiential learning allows students to actively engage in hands-on projects, conduct fieldwork, and contribute to ongoing studies.

With its vibrant academic community and commitment to cutting-edge research, Cornell University provides an ideal environment for aspiring animal behaviourists to thrive.


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What are the career opportunities for an animal behaviour and ethology degree?

Studying animal behaviour and ethology can open up a world of exciting career opportunities for you. Let’s explore some of the paths you can pursue:

  • Wildlife Biologist

As a wildlife biologist, you’ll have the chance to work directly with animals in their natural habitats. You may conduct field research, monitor populations, and study the impact of human activities on wildlife behaviour.

  • Animal Behaviorist

Becoming an animal behaviourist allows you to delve deep into the fascinating world of animal behaviour. You’ll study the causes and patterns of behaviour, analyze how animals interact with their environments, and develop strategies to improve their welfare.

  • Research Scientist

If you have a curious mind and love to explore the unknown, a career as a research scientist might be for you. You can contribute to scientific discoveries, conduct experiments, analyze data, and publish your findings in academic journals.

  • Conservationist

Conservationists play a vital role in protecting endangered species and their habitats. By studying animal behaviour and ethology, you can contribute to conservation efforts by understanding the behaviours that affect the survival of species and developing conservation strategies.

  • Zookeeper

Working as a zookeeper allows you to directly care for and observe a wide variety of animals. Understanding animal behaviour will help you create enriching environments, develop behavioural management plans, and contribute to the well-being of animals in captivity.

  • Academic Researcher

If you have a passion for teaching and sharing knowledge, becoming an academic researcher or professor might be the path for you. You can conduct research, mentor students, and contribute to the academic community by advancing our understanding of animal behaviour.

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FAQs on the Best Animal Behavior and Ethology Colleges

Are there specific prerequisites or recommended backgrounds for entering an animal behaviour and ethology program?

Prerequisites may vary among schools, but a strong foundation in biology, psychology, ecology, or related disciplines is often beneficial. Some programs may require specific coursework or laboratory experience. It’s advisable to check the admission requirements of individual schools for their specific prerequisites.

Can I specialize in a particular animal species or field within animal behaviour and ethology?

Yes, many programs offer opportunities for specialization. Some schools may have faculty members with expertise in specific animal species, such as primates, birds, or marine mammals. Additionally, you can focus on specific areas within animal behaviour, such as animal communication, social behaviour, or conservation behaviour.

Are there opportunities for hands-on experience and fieldwork in these programs?

Yes, many animal behaviour and ethology programs emphasize hands-on learning and fieldwork. Fieldwork allows students to observe animals in their natural habitats, collect data, and study behaviour in real-world settings. Look for programs that offer field courses, research projects, or internships to gain practical experience.

How important is research in an animal behaviour and ethology program?

Research plays a crucial role in advancing the understanding of animal behaviour. Engaging in research projects allows students to develop critical thinking skills, design experiments, analyze data, and contribute to the scientific community. Look for programs that provide research opportunities and have faculty actively involved in research.


For the best animal behaviour and ethology colleges in 2024, we’ve explored a remarkable list of institutions that excel in this fascinating field. From the University of California, Davis, to Cornell University, each college offers a unique combination of academic excellence, research opportunities, and a commitment to understanding and conserving animal behaviour.

By considering factors such as academic reputation, curriculum, research opportunities, and faculty expertise, these colleges will help prospective students make an informed decision about which best aligns with their interests and goals.

So, get ready to embark on an incredible journey of discovery, compassion, and awe-inspiring animal behaviours at one of these best colleges.



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