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Animal science is described as "studying the biology of animals that are under the control of mankind". Historically, the degree was called animal husbandry and the animals studied were livestock species, like cattle, sheep, pigs, poultry, and horses. Today, courses available now look at a far broader area to include companion animals like dogs and cats, and many exotic species. Degrees in Animal Science are offered at a number of colleges and universities. In the United States, the universities offering such a program were Land Grant Universities and include Cornell University, UC Davis, Michigan State University, Purdue University, The Ohio State University, The Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Minnesota. Typically, the Animal Science curriculum not only provides a strong science background, but also hands-on experience working with animals on campus-based farms. Professional education in animal science prepares students for career opportunities in areas such as animal breeding, food and fiber production, nutrition, animal agribusiness, animal behavior and welfare, and biotechnology. Courses in a typical Animal Science program may include genetics, microbiology, animal behavior, nutrition, physiology, and reproduction. Courses in support areas, such as genetics, soils, agricultural economics and marketing, legal aspects, and the environment also are offered. All of these courses are essential to entering an animal science profession.
At many Universities, a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Animal Science allows emphasis in certain areas. Typical areas are species-specific or career-specific. Species-specific areas of emphasis prepare students for a career in dairy management, beef management, swine management, sheep or small ruminant management, poultry production, or the horse industry. Other career-specific areas of study include pre-veterinary medicine studies, livestock business and marketing, animal welfare and behavior, animal nutrition science, animal reproduction science, or genetics. The pre-veterinary emphasis at the University of Minnesota, for example, provides an in-depth knowledge base of the biological and physical sciences including nutrition, reproduction, physiology, and genetics. This option prepares students for graduate studies in animal science, veterinary school, and pharmaceutical or animal science industries.
In a Master of Science degree option, students take required courses in areas that support their main interest. These courses are above courses normally required for a Bachelor of Science degree in the Animal Science major. For example, in a Ph.D. degree program students take courses related to their major that are more in depth than those for the Master of Science degree, with an emphasis on research or teaching.
Graduate studies in animal sciences are considered preparation for upper level positions in production, management, education, research, or agriservices. Professional study in veterinary medicine, law, and business administration are among the most commonly chosen programs by graduates. Other areas of study include growth biology, physiology, nutrition, and production systems.