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Examine human-animal relationships

And learn quantitative, 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, critical thinking, communication and research.

Train animals for research

Study “canine creativity” and similar animal training routines using grants secured by Eckerd College Animal Studies faculty here in Florida.

Animal Studies student at zoo in front of bamboo fence

In Their Own Words

“My mentor, Professor Highfill, provided me countless opportunities and support while I was at Eckerd. I loved helping her with her research and meeting new people in the animal behavior field. I was able to assist with research projects and complete a thesis while at Eckerd. These experiences helped me to become a research assistant and travel to Peru to research emperor and saddleback tamarins in their native habitat.”
-Tia Hildebrandt ’17
African Primate Keeper at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo

Beyond the Classroom

The Animal Studies Research Collaborative houses several different labs including the Comparative Psychology Lab and the Frick Animal Behavior Lab. Some recent research projects include studying canine creativity and cooperative behavior in elephants.

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

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 Dolphins Plus, ZooTampa, the SPCA, 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 International Education class has traveled to London, Edinburgh, San Diego, Seattle, and Vancouver, Canada.

Popular classes

Comparative Psychology

Examine the behavior and mental lives of many species. All students complete mini research projects on animal behavior.

Animals and Performance

Consider the historical and contemporary use of animals as performers and culminates in a performance-based project.


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 ZooTampa at Lowry Park and Roatan Institute for Marine Studies in Honduras.

Animal Studies major at zoo with elephant walking


What can I do with an animal studies degree?

  • Animal-Related Positions
    • Animal shelters and sanctuaries
    • Aquaria
    • Veterinary settings
    • Wildlife rehabilitation
    • Zoos
  • Public Service
    • Animal protection organizations
    • Environmental organizations
    • Government (e.g., USDA; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
  • Counseling Services
    • Animal assisted therapy
    • Support animals
    • Therapy for animals
  • Education
    • Graduate study in a variety of fields, including psychology, biology, and education
    • With an advanced degree, research work as a naturalist or animal behaviorist, or teaching at a college or university

Where our animal studies students go to graduate school

  • Arizona State University
  • Oakland University
  • 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