Graduate Programs

Graduate Certificate in

Zoo Science

Masters in Biology at WLU

The certificate in Zoo Animal Science is designed to offer a focused curriculum that will meet the needs of zoo professionals, recent college graduates, animal veterinary professionals seeking to increase their expertise in exotic animal welfare and husbandry.

The Zoo Animal Science Certificate is specifically for professionals holding 4-year degrees from accredited institutions of higher education who wish to extend their education at the graduate level, but do not necessarily want to earn a graduate degree (MA or MS). The designated 12 credit hours of coursework required are specific to the challenges within animal management fields and are offered in an asynchronous online format to facilitate program completion by students across North America with full time jobs.

Required Courses

  • BIO543 Graduate Zoo Herpetology – 3 credit hours
  • BIO545 Graduate Zoo Mammalogy – 3 credit hours
  • BIO547 Graduate Zoo Ornithology – 3 credit hours
  • BIO556 Advanced Parasitology – 3 credit hours
  • BIO558 Advanced Animal Nutrition– 3 credit hours

Your Future in Biology

The applied knowledge and experience gained through the MS in Biology will prepare students for continued education through Biology PhD program matriculation. Obtaining the MS in Biology will significantly increase the likelihood that a student will be accepted into, and successfully complete a quality PhD program.

Students who complete the MS in Biology from West Liberty University will be qualified to work as research technicians in many of the research intensive universities in the surrounding areas, such as the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University.

Over 30 job openings for positions involving biological research at the University of Pittsburgh that require a Master’s degree and 29 at The Ohio State University were identified. These openings indicate that in the local area, there is a substantial need for more individuals with graduate-level training in the biological sciences.

Completion of an MS in Biology from West Liberty University will qualify students for careers in industry working in laboratories at pharmaceutical, biotechnology, or biomedical companies. A recent search of using Master’s in Biology as the search terms revealed over 1000 jobs, while the quoted phrase “Master’s degree in biology” revealed 131.

The education attained by completing the MA in Biology curriculum will substantially prepare students planning to enter professional programs such as medical school. These students will have shown that they are capable of completing graduate courses with the level of rigor associated with medical and other professional schools.

This will be especially helpful for students with identified academic challenges in the undergraduate background, as admission boards are more likely to accept these students when presented with evidence that they have had success beyond the undergraduate level.

The students achieving an MS or MA in biology from West Liberty University will be qualified to teach biology courses as an instructor at the collegiate level, or to begin a professional career that requires a graduate degree. For instance, thirty-six openings posted on “The Chronicle of Higher Education” were identified for instructor positions at colleges and universities that require a Master’s degree in biology.

Students who attain a Master’s degree in biology represent the preferred pool of applicants for a multitude of careers in the environmental sciences as well. State Departments of Natural Resources, Departments of Environmental Protection, Forestry Departments in addition to environmental non-profit organizations and private environmental consulting firms all prefer to hire applicants who have completed the requirements for a Master’s degree in biology over individuals lacking a graduate degree.

A job search conducted on 15 January 2016 on the Texas A&M Environmental Jobs Board found that nationally all full-time positions (n = 26) with both leadership roles and salaries above $40K/year required an MS in Biology or related fields. Federal employment in the U. S. Forest Service, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency is ceilinged for individuals lacking a graduate degree, and limited primarily to technician positions.

Acquisition of a Master’s degree enables access to higher paying positions that often deal with environmental policy, regulation, and major national decisions. Acquisition of a Master’s degree at WLU will enable our graduates to join this workforce.

Students within the MS in Biology program will also have the opportunity to prepare for entry-level and managerial positions within the animal care and husbandry industry. Training within the program will prepare students for research opportunities associated with this industry.

The United States Department of Labor reported that the rate of job growth for various positions related to animal care careers will increase at a more rapid (15%) rate than other job markets from 2012 – 2022.

Examples of potential careers within this line of work include: veterinary assistants and technicians; laboratory animal caretaker; zoo and aquarium animal keepers, curators, and research biologists; animal trainers; keepers and managers at sanctuaries, wildlife rehabilitation facilities, and nature centers; and managers within the pet care industry.

Other Potential Animal Husbandry Related Careers:

  • Animal Trainers – Service animal trainer; Zoo animal trainer; Equine industry trainer; Animal trainer for military and law enforcement
  • Exotic Animal Care – Keepers, managers, curators, registrars, and administrators at zoos, aquariums, nature centers, sanctuaries, rehabilitation centers, and fish hatcheries
  • Exotic Animal Research – Reproductive physiologists, animal nutritionist, endocrinologist, conservation biologist, and ecologist positions at zoos, aquariums, and conservation centers

As graduation rates increase, students will need to further their education to compete for research and management positions in a market of individuals who have successfully completed Bachelor degree training.


To learn more about the coast of our programs, please visit the Business Office Webpage.

Please Note: This is based on being enrolled in 12 credit hours for the year.

2023-2024 MA/MS BIOLOGY Financial Aid Cost of AttendanceIn-State Off-CampusIn-State On Campus
Tuition & Fees$7,140$7,140
Food and Housing$10,720$12,054
Books & Supplies$762$762
Personal Expenses$1,542$1,542
Transportation Expenses$3,193$2,448
Federal Student Loan Fees$2,889$2,889
2023-2024 MA/MS BIOLOGY Financial Aid Cost of AttendanceOut-of-State Off CampusOut-of-State On Campus
Tuition & Fees$8,340$8,340
Food and Housing$10,720$12,054
Books & Supplies$762$762
Personal Expenses$1,542$1,542
Transportation Expenses$3,193$2,448
Federal Student Loan Fees$2,889$2,889


For more information please visit the Business Office Website

Percent Change in Employment 2028

Biological TechniciansBiological Technicians7%

Life, Physical and Soc. Sci. Tech.Life, Physical and Soc. Sci. Tech.6%

All OccupationsAll Occupations5%


Employment of biological technicians is projected to grow 7% from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.

Greater demand for biological and medical research is expected to increase the need for these workers.


Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the Zoo Animal Science Certificate, graduates will be able to

  • Demonstrate an in-depth mastery in a range of zoo animal sciences including animal welfare, exhibitry, physiology, nutrition, natural history, and taxonomy of species commonly exhibited in North America. [MAO1]
  • Critically review and analyze primary literature. [MAO2]
  • Effectively communicate scientific ideas in both written and oral formats. [MAO3]
  • Demonstrate independent scientific thinking. [MAO4]

Application Process

All applicants must provide a complete application file, which contains the following items to be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies:

  1. STEP 1 – Complete the online application for admission to the program.
  2. STEP 2 – Have all official transcripts and test scores sent to the Office of Graduate Studies (208 University Drive, CUB 192, West Liberty, WV 26074).
    Please note: West Liberty University graduates do not need to provide transcripts.
  3. STEP 3 – Check the status of your recommendations by emailing
  4. STEP 4 – Once you have a complete application, your file will be reviewed by the admission committee. Check on the status of your application at any time through your admissions portal.

For additional questions regarding the application process, please contact the Office of Graduate Studies at 304-336-8015.


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