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best colleges for animal behavior

10 Best Animal Behavior and Ethology Colleges in 2023

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Imagine a world where you can immerse yourself in the intricate study of animal behavior, unlocking the secrets behind their captivating actions and social dynamics. If you’re passionate about understanding the fascinating world of animal behavior and ethology, then you’re in for a treat! In this article, we’ll discuss the 10 best animal behavior and ethology colleges in 2023.

These colleges are not just academic institutions; they are gateways to a world where you can explore the behaviors of diverse species, contribute to conservation efforts, and unravel the complexities of the animal kingdom. Each college on this prestigious list offers a unique blend of academic excellence, research opportunities, and a passion for understanding and protecting our fellow creatures.

So, whether you dream of becoming a wildlife biologist, animal behaviorist, or research scientist, these colleges will nurture your curiosity and equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to make a difference in the field. Get ready to embark on an extraordinary educational journey as we uncover the 10 best animal behavior and ethology colleges of 2023.

best colleges for animal behavior

What Are The Requirements For Entering An Animal Behavior And Ethology Program?

While requirements may vary among different programs, let’s explore some 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 behavior. 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 behaviors 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 behavior 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 behavior 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 behavior research often involves collaboration with other scientists, fieldwork teams, and even the general public. Being able to work effectively in teams, communicate ideas, and collaborate with diverse individuals is valuable. Foster your interpersonal skills to thrive in collaborative settings.

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What Are The Factors To Consider For Choosing A Great Animal Behavior And Ethology School?

When choosing a great animal behavior 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 behavior 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 behavior, including behavioral 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 behavior 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 behavior in natural habitats. Access to varied environments allows for a more comprehensive understanding of different species and their behaviors.

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 behavior 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 Animal Behavior and Ethology Colleges in 2023

The right college for animal behavior 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, is a top-notch institution when it comes to animal behavior 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. Whether you’re fascinated by marine life, mammals, or even insects, UC Davis provides a supportive environment to explore your interests and make significant contributions to the field of animal behavior.

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 behavior education. With a dedicated faculty and a close-knit community, Bucknell offers a personalized learning experience. 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 behavior 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 a leading institution for animal behavior and ethology. The Department of Biology offers a diverse range of courses that delve into the intricacies of animal behavior, evolutionary biology, and ecology.

Students at Indiana University 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 actively participate in groundbreaking studies, expanding their knowledge and making valuable contributions to the field. Whether you’re fascinated by the behavior of birds, mammals, or insects, Indiana University provides a stimulating environment to explore your passion.

4.      Franklin and Marshall College

Situated in the historic city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Franklin and Marshall College offers a unique and engaging animal behavior program. With a focus on integrative approaches, the Department of Biology 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 behavior 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 behavior, 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 behavior.

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

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

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 behavior and ethology program. The Department of Zoology provides a comprehensive curriculum that covers various aspects of animal behavior, 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 behavior 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

Another prestigious institution in the United Kingdom, the University of Oxford, is a hub of excellence for animal behavior and ethology. The Department of Zoology at Oxford offers a rigorous and comprehensive program that explores the complexities of animal behavior 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 behavior.

8.      University of Zurich

Situated in the heart of Switzerland, the University of Zurich offers a unique perspective on animal behavior and ethology. The Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies provides a dynamic learning environment, combining evolutionary biology, ecology, and behavioral 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, fostering innovative research and a holistic understanding of animal behavior.

With Switzerland’s breathtaking landscapes as a backdrop, the University of Zurich offers an inspiring setting for studying the intricacies of the natural world.

9.      Max Planck Institute for Ornithology

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

10.  Cornell University

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

Students at Cornell 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 behaviorists to thrive.

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

Studying animal behavior 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 behavior.

  • Animal Behaviorist

Becoming an animal behaviorist allows you to delve deep into the fascinating world of animal behavior. You’ll study the causes and patterns of behavior, 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 behavior and ethology, you can contribute to conservation efforts by understanding the behaviors 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 behavior will help you create enriching environments, develop behavioral 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 behavior.

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FAQs on the Best Animal Behavior and Ethology Colleges

Are there specific prerequisites or recommended backgrounds for entering an animal behavior 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 behavior 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 behavior, such as animal communication, social behavior, or conservation behavior.

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

Yes, many animal behavior and ethology programs emphasize hands-on learning and fieldwork. Fieldwork allows students to observe animals in their natural habitats, collect data, and study behavior 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 behavior and ethology program?

Research plays a crucial role in advancing the understanding of animal behavior. 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 behavior and ethology colleges in 2023, 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 behavior.

By considering factors such as academic reputation, curriculum, research opportunities, and faculty expertise, prospective students can make an informed decision about which college aligns best with their interests and goals. Whether you aspire to be a wildlife biologist, animal behaviorist, or research scientist, these colleges provide a solid foundation for a fulfilling career in the world of animal behavior.

So, get ready to embark on an incredible journey of discovery, compassion, and awe-inspiring animal behaviors at one of these top-notch institutions. The future awaits you in the captivating realm of animal behavior and ethology!