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Can dogs understand human language? Why do birds migrate? Do fish feel pain? These are some questions you’ll seek to answer as an animal behavior and ethology major. Never heard of ethology? Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines it as “the scientific and objective study of animal behavior.” Animal behavior and ethology covers a range of scientific disciplines all concerned with what animals do and the neural mechanisms that enable them to do it.

A major in animal behavior and ethology piles on some serious science; you’ll take classes like anatomy, biology, genetics, neurobiology, neuroscience, behavioral evolution, zoology, and cognition and sensory perception. You’ll use this knowledge to observe and attempt to understand animal sensation, cognition, and behavior. By your junior or senior year, you’ll undertake an independent research project in an area of special interest, such as animal communication or social evolution.


  • Animal Behavior

  • Animal Physiology

  • Behavior of Social Insects

  • Conservation Biology

  • Mammalian Embryology

  • Marine Biology

  • Nature of Sensing and Response

  • Neuroscience

  • Sensation and Perception


For this major, you’ll want to take biology, anatomy, and -- if your school offers it -- psychology. While you’re at it, classes in chemistry, mathematics and physics are also not a bad idea.