Do you need a doctoral degree to become a zoologist?

Written by laura bramble
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Do you need a doctoral degree to become a zoologist?
Zoologists are scientists that study animals. (Zoo image by Pascal P� ©chard from

Zoology is a branch of biological science that specialises in animals. Zoologists help expand the understanding of animals, wildlife and their behaviour through study and research. This research takes place in the wild as well as in controlled conditions and the laboratory. Many different aspects to a zoologist’s work have differing education requirements. While many zoologists have a doctoral degree, not all zoologists or those working in zoology have a doctorate.

Minimum Education

A master’s degree is the minimum requirement for zoologists. A traditional path for a zoologist is a bachelor’s degree in biology, followed by postgraduate work in microbiology, biochemistry or zoology. Zoologists have a strong background in a variety of subjects, including chemistry, biology and mathematics, along with research and observation skills.


A large number of zoologists choose to focus on one of a variety of subspecialties, including herpetology (reptiles), mammalogy (mammals), ichthyology (fish) and ornithology (birds). These specialities require a level of knowledge beyond basic zoology. Specialists typically have a doctoral degree that focuses on their area of speciality.

Further Areas of Study

Some zoologists may also complete postgraduate studies in a related field such as veterinary studies to gain further knowledge. Those choosing to work in zoological administration study business or management on a postgraduate level as well. Ecological studies help a zoologist who works in the field bring knowledge of the environment into his understanding of the wildlife that inhabits it.

Undergradute Degrees

There are options in the zoology field for those possessing a bachelor’s degree in biology or zoology, such as animal care, laboratory research or field study. These scientists act more in a supporting capacity to other, more experienced zoologists. Some with bachelor’s degrees supplement their knowledge by performing internships after graduation before beginning postgraduate work.

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