5 majors to explore if you like working with animals

A zoology student holds a live gopher, studying animal behavior in a field class

When it comes to learning about animals, the possibilities are nearly endless. From science to entertainment to agriculture to medicine to natural resources, there are hundreds of fields that involve working with animals, studying animals or animal behavior, raising animals, and so much more. CSU has many majors that involve animal work, but here are four you probably won’t want to miss if you are considering a future with the creatures around us.

#1. Animal Science

The Animal Science major, housed in the College of Agricultural Sciences, offers hands-on learning on campus and way, way off campus. You’ll have lab time at CSU’s ARDEC facility, a working ranch/research center, where you’ll work directly with animals and learn everything from livestock management to animal breeding practices. You’ll be in the stalls, in the barns, and in the fields (literally) from day one with professors and professionals to see first hand what animal science is all about. Alongside your field learning, you’ll take classes in math and science, along with lab-based classes in large-animal anatomy, reproduction, genetics, meat science, and rangeland/pasture management. As you progress, you’ll be able to narrow down your career path, which includes a wide variety of jobs within food production and science that range from ranching to representing large feed companies to animal sales to breed science and genetic advancement.

#2. Zoology

Zoology at CSU is housed in the College of Natural Sciences, and it focuses on the study of animals and their behavior, diseases, and life processes. In the major, you’ll take classes to master biological knowledge and skills, along with courses that take you into the field to observe and work with a variety of animals, including mammals, marine life, and birds. You’ll take labs where you’ll perform dissections to gain a deep understanding of animal anatomies, you’ll take behavior-based labs to study animals in their natural habitats, and you’ll have opportunities for field trips to various refuges and zoos to learn from professionals. As you make your way through the major, you’ll begin to narrow your career goals down from the wide array of options, which include going onto veterinary school, working at refuges with endangered wildlife, animal training and handling, marine biology, and even business ventures within animal/wildlife industries.

#3. Equine Science

Ask any CSU Equine Science major, and they will likely tell you they cannot see themself in any other college program. The major lives within the College of Agricultural Sciences, and boasts classes that take you both into the field, into the sciences, and onto a horse. That’s right. In addition to the science-based learning you’ll do in horse physiology and biology, you’ll work with horses in your coursework here. You’ll get opportunities to take riding classes, and you’ll have chances to work with an assigned mare and her foal throughout her pregnancy, birth, and motherhood. You’ll spend considerable time in CSU’s 80 acres of equine science facilities, featuring indoor and outdoor arenas and the state-of-the-art Temple Grandin Equine Center. As you make your way through the major, you’ll be exposed to career options such as horse ranching, marketing/sales in the equine industry, equine behavior research, equine-human therapy, and much more.

#4. Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology

Do you see your future self observing herds on the side of a mountain or ankle deep in a creek watching for fish colonies? Exploring wildlife and its habitats in CSU’s Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology major, housed in the Warner College of Natural Resources, might be for you. Your science-based education in the major will go hand in hand with the field work and labs you do in the nearby foothills and Rocky Mountains, where you’ll observe and measure freshwater fish, birds, and mammalian wildlife. As you progress in the major, you’ll narrow your focus to conservation biology, fisheries, or wildlife biology, and explore future careers in government conservation, ecology, wildlife research/education, endangered species preservation, and beyond.

#5. Biology

CSU’s Biology major, housed in the College of Natural Sciences, is a popular program that can take you in many directions that deal directly and indirectly with animals. With biology’s rigorous, science-based coursework, you might choose to go onto a vet program, or choose a career working with animals in zoos and aquatic animal facilities. You might want to focus on conservation, and help lobby for better protection of animal species, or even perform animal research and education locally and abroad. In the major, you’ll focus on microscopic bacteria and viruses, plants, and animals, and their relationship to their environments, giving you a broad view of all living things on earth. You’ll spend most of your time in CSU’s Biology building, a massive facility with live specimens, a lab dedicated to mammalogy education and research, and chance to watch and work with high-level biological research throughout your studies.

Still looking for the right fit?

Check out our full list of majors and descriptions to widen your academic search.


Prairie Smallwood

Prairie Smallwood is a writer and content creator for the Office of Admissions at Colorado State University. She is passionate about education and exploration, and knows that going to college can be both an adventure and an overwhelming experience. She aims to create content that helps students through that journey — the wonderful, the scary, and everything in between.