Major in Zoology

You’ll have opportunities for field research in our diverse local habitats including marine habitats, as well as laboratory study.

Zoology is one of the Biology Department’s most popular majors; it is the only Zoology major in the CSU system, and one of only two in California. Hands-on experiences in the classroom and in the field, access to a wide range of natural habitats, and a diversity of courses make Humboldt an excellent place to study animals.

Where You’ll Learn

Surrounded by a wide range of habitats, from coastal tide pools to mountain wilderness and from  rivers to the ocean, Humboldt is in the perfect environment for field research. You can study invertebrates in the tidepools, insects in the streams, flying squirrels and amphibians in the redwood forests, and whales in nearshore waters. You can learn about marine animals and study them at our Telonicher Marine Lab or aboard the University’s research vessel, the Coral Sea, and gain scientific diving skills through a dedicated Scientific Diving Minor. The Humboldt Vertebrate Museum, which houses over 15,000 mammal, bird, amphibian, and reptile specimens, is used for teaching multiple undergraduate courses and for undergraduate research.

Marine Lab  Coral Sea - Research Vessel

What You'll Learn

The Zoology curriculum offers a strong foundation in the study of zoology including the study of the evolution, physiology, ecology and conservation of animals.  In addition, our program also offers the flexibility for each student to tailor their upper division classes to help them meet their academic and career goals. Humboldt’s robust taxonomy courses (Mammalogy, Ornithology, Herpetology, Ichthyology, Invertebrate Zoology, Entomology, Advanced Mammalogy and Marine Mammalogy) are offered more frequently and go into more depth than those at most universities. As a Zoology undergraduate, you can expect to conduct independent hands-on research in upper division classes such as Intertidal Ecology, Herpetology, Comparative Animal Behaviour and Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy.  Zoology intersects with our marine biology major, and many students choose to double major. Interdisciplinary collaborations with the Wildlife and Fisheries programs can lead to additional opportunities. 

Hands-on Learning

Gaining real-world experience is a defining feature of our Zoology program. You’ll get hands-on experience with dissection in Introductory Zoology and Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, experiments in Animal Physiology, and observation of behavior of live animals in the lab and field in Invertebrate Zoology, Intertidal Ecology, Herpetology and Comparative Animal Behavior. Upper division laboratory courses in molecular genetics and cell biology train students in the questions and experimental methods required to study organisms at the genetic, molecular, and cellular levels. You can gain additional research experience by assisting graduate students, faculty and museum staff in their work. Motivated undergraduates have the opportunity to publish papers and attend national scientific conferences to present their research.

Catalog Information

Career Options

Our Zoology Alumni have had successful careers as:

Veterinary Assistants
Museum Curators
Museum Managers
Federal and State Agency Biologists
Scientific Illustrators
Biological Consultants
National or State Park Interpreters
Science Educators
Scientific Writers

Professors and Researchers in the following fields:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Taxonomy
  • Systematics
  • Herpetology
  • Entomology
  • Mammalogy
  • Developmental Biology

More Career Options