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Examine the lived experiences of animals including human-animal relationships

And learn critical thinking, communication and research skills along the way

Animal Studies is a truly interdisciplinary major at Eckerd, drawing from the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities to trace the history and consequences of human relationships to animals. These relationships are interdependent; while humans have certainly had a tremendous impact upon the lives of non-human animals, non-human animals have also shaped human thought, culture, and economic production—even our very understanding of what humanity is—since our earliest origins.


Get competitive

Skills you acquire in this major will give you a competitive edge for graduate school or a career in a field that works toward better understanding or benefiting animals including quantitative, qualitative, critical thinking, communication and research.

Work with animals for research

Study parrot cognition and animal training routines with Eckerd College animal studies faculty here in Tampa Bay.

Volunteer at an animal sanctuary

Student looking into camera

In Their Own Words

“I would recommend the Animal studies and Environmental studies majors to any students looking for a well-rounded foundation for working in all careers relating to animal and environmental care, keeping, research, and education! The professors will not only give you a wonderful education, but also a network of connections that will give you an advantage moving forward in your experiences and career. They also provide opportunities for research abroad in these fields, and these trips might be some of the most memorable times you have on your college journey.”
—Aubree Fisher ’22
Husbandry Associate at SEA LIFE Aquarium

Beyond the Classroom

The Animal Studies Research Collaborative houses several different labs and research groups. Some recent research projects include studying canine creativity, cooperative behavior in elephants, dolphin behavior and cognition, orangutan activity and space use, traditional ecological knowledge, animals in ethnographic and archaeological contexts, commodification and consumption of animals in sport and entertainment.

Eckerd is perfectly located near many animal-related facilities which welcome students as volunteers and interns. Some examples include: ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Lemur Conservation Foundation, Myakka City Lemur Reserve, The Florida Aquarium, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Southeastern Guide Dogs, SPCA Tampa Bay.

Practicum in Animal Studies is a reflective service learning course. Students volunteer or intern at an animal related facility for at least 130 hours while reflecting on their experiences. Some recent sites have included Island Dolphin Care, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Lemur Conservation Foundation, SPCA Tampa Bay, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Marine Mammal Pathobiology Lab on the Eckerd College campus.

Service Pics on Flickr

The Role of the Modern Zoo is a Spring into Summer course that examines the history of zoos as well as their present goals for animal welfare and conservation. Over the years, this Global Education class has traveled to London & Edinburgh, U.K., Salzburg & Vienna, Austria and the Pacific Northwest.

French and Fauna in Madagascar is an interdisciplinary Spring into Summer course that both explores human-animal relationships with the unique fauna of Madagascar and the importance of language when studying abroad. In addition to Animal Studies credit, students can also use this course to count towards their French language study at Eckerd.

Integrative Therapies: Dolphins is a Study Abroad Winter Term which provides students with an opportunity to shadow Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI) directly at leading Dolphin-Assisted Therapy Centers in Florida and Curaçao. Interventions include exceptional education, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychotherapy. Students sharpen research skills while learning about AAI theory and best practices such as animal training for therapy interactions with humans and non-profit management.

Popular classes

Animal-Assisted Interventions

This course explores the interdisciplinary and evidence-based practices of partnering with nonhuman animals in diverse roles to provide clinical services for humans, and includes discussion of the ethical and practical implications of these healthcare practices.

Animal Behavior

The interdisciplinary study of animal behavior, emphasizing the underlying functions and mechanisms of behavior, animal communication systems, animal behavior methodologies, and cultural transmission of behavior across a variety of taxa.

Global Animal Studies

Examines human-animal relationships through a global lens. Considers a diverse range of worldviews and cultural practices, exploring the multifarious relationships that exist between humans and other animals around the world.


Much of the research done by the Animal Studies Research Collaborative is done in collaboration with zoos and aquariums in Florida and beyond. Some of our current projects are taking place at  Clearwater Marine Aquarium an ZooTampa at Lowry Park.

Animal Studies major at zoo with elephant walking


What can I do with an animal studies degree?

  • Animal Husbandry and Welfare
    • Agriculture
    • Animal shelters and sanctuaries
    • Assisted veterinary services
    • Wildlife rehabilitation
    • Zoos and Aquaria
  • Public and Social Services
    • Animal law practices
    • Animal and environmental protection organizations
    • Counseling and human healthcare centers
    • Government (e.g., USDA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA)
    • Non-profit organizations for assistance animals
  • Education
    • Graduate study in a variety of fields, including anthropology, biology, education, psychology, sociology, and wildlife conservation
    • With an advanced degree, research work and/or teaching at a college or university

Where our animal studies students go to graduate school

    • Arizona State University
    • Blackburn College
    • Christian Brothers University
    • CUNY Hunter College
    • CUNY Graduate Center
    • North Carolina State University
    • Oakland University
    • Rowan College at Burlington County
    • St. Petersburg College
    • University of Florida
    • University of South Florida

Where our animal studies majors go to work

Sign up for more about Eckerd and our animal studies program