May 23, 2024  
2023-2024 Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog 
    
2023-2024 Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog

Aquarium and Zoo Science, B.A.


Department Contact:

Chair: Dr. Justin Merry, jmerry@francis.edu, 814-471-1105
Coordinators: Dr. Gail Drus, gdrus@francis.edu, 814-471-1267; Ms. Shelley Kirkpatrick, skirkpatrick@francis.edu, 814-472-3179

Program Description:

The Aquarium and Zoo Science, B.A. degree is specifically built to prepare students, upon completion, for careers in aquariums and zoos, as well as other careers involving animal husbandry, environmental education, and/or animal conservation. The students will complete a broad survey of biology the first year and then build upon this by completing courses in animal care, animal nutrition, vertebrate zoology, invertebrate zoology, microbiology, genetics, and marine biology. Skills will be developed by students while completing their animal care practicum and internships along with laboratory exercises. Students will have the opportunity to develop presentation skills both in front of and inside a large aquarium, presenting information to school children and visitors to the biology department. Students select one of the following minors to complement their zoological skillset in a way that is relevant to their intended career path: animal-assisted healthcare and education, business administration, open education, or psychological sciences.

Student Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Design and implement an animal care and nutrition plan.
  • Devise evidence-based conservation strategies that integrate the complexity of real-world considerations when presented with specific case examples.
  • Execute a scientific study to test between alternative hypotheses, collect and analyze data, and communicate its results.
  • Demonstrate professionalism, leadership, responsibility, and proactiveness in a work environment, and be prepared to enter graduate programs or the work force.
  • Present complicated scientific ideas to the public in an effective and engaging manner.
  • Find placement in career-relevant jobs, internships, or graduate schools upon graduation.

Estimated Completion Time:

Typically 4 years of full-time study

Capstone Requirement:

The senior capstone requirement is completed by taking ZAAS 419 Conservation and Environmental Education  .

Total Credits Required:

128 credits

Courses Required for the Major: (77 credits)


Required Minor:


Complete one of the following minors. See the linked catalog descriptions for specific course requirements.

  • Animal-Assisted Health and Education Minor  (15 additional credits)
    • Focuses on integrating animals into an educational or therapeutic setting.
  • Business Administration Minor (18 additional credits)
    • Fundamental business background. Ideal for someone interested in operating a conservation, wildlife rehabilitation, or environmental education non-profit.
  • Psychological Sciences minor (15 additional credits)
    • Our traditional pairing with the ZAAS major. Most ZAAS students select PSYC 303 and PSYC 420 Canine Learning & Behavior courses as focuses for the minor, which specifically prepares students for the animal training that often accompanies animal husbandry.
  • Open Education minor (15 additional credits)
    • This minor is ideal for someone specifically interested in working in environmental or animal education, such as through a nature center, a zoo or aquarium, or in a formal education setting.