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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Veterinary Studies

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Explore a Master's Degree in Veterinary Studies

Veterinary science is a field of study that focuses on the growth, development, and health of farm animals. This includes areas such as animal physiology, nutrition, genetics, and agricultural practices. Online master's degree programs in veterinary science are designed to prepare students with the diagnostic skills and scientific knowledge they need to work directly with animals and agricultural workers to ensure food safety, animal health, and sustainable practices. Some programs may also include courses in economics, statistics, and communication to prepare students with strong analytical skills. Graduates of a program like this can seek employment with government agencies, agriculture companies, schools, or private research groups.

Students who enroll in an online program have the flexibility to continue in their current job while earning their degree on a full or part time basis. Since the number of courses each student elects to take per semester can vary, the typical time for completion ranges from two to three years for this type of program. In addition, applicable course credits transferred in and whether or not a student takes any breaks from the program can also influence the time it will take to earn the degree.

Class Curriculum

Veterinary science students should expect a curriculum founded in the natural sciences. Courses in animal physiology, microbiology, genetics, nutrition, animal reproduction, and meat and muscle science are common. Classes will likely be a combination of lecture, seminar, lab, research, and field work. Some specific examples include:

  • Techniques of Animal Care. This is a laboratory course focused on the applied management of dairy cattle, beef cattle, swine, and small ruminants. This will also cover common techniques used in livestock production.
  • Principles of Animal Nutrition. This overview course includes topics such as feed classification, nutrients and their functions, digestion and metabolism, gastrointestinal tract anatomy for domestic animals, and feed regulations. This will cover the basics of feeding cattle, horses, swine, poultry, dogs, cats, rabbits, and small ruminants.
  • Anatomy of Domestic Animals. This lab course teaches students to identify the major anatomical and cellular structures from domestic livestock specimens.

Students enrolled in this type of program can expect course work to include problem sets, exams, labs, and field work assignments. At the graduate level, students should also be prepared to conduct their own research projects and present their findings. This will likely call for extensive field work in addition to traditional academic research.

Building a Career

Graduates with a master's degree in veterinary science will have the analytical, diagnostic, and technical skills necessary to oversee the management and care of domestic farm animals. They may work directly for agricultural companies, or may find opportunities with government agencies, schools, and other research groups. The demand for animal scientists is expected to grow by 13% from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Most of this growth is expected from private industry. Growth for this industry is slightly slower than the 14% growth expected for jobs overall during the projection period.

The average annual wage for agricultural and food scientists was $58,450 in 2010, the BLS noted. The highest paying industry was state government, with agricultural scientists earning a median salary of $69,470. Colleges, universities, and professional schools employed the most animal scientists in 2011, followed by the scientific research and development services industry. Please note, however, that actual job opportunities and starting salaries can be influenced by location, level of education, work experience, the specific employer, and the general economic climate.