Animal Behavior


Bachelor of Science with a major in Animal Behavior
College of Arts and Sciences (CAS)
School of Social and Behavioral Sciences


Dr. Jennifer Stiegler-Balfour


The Animal Behavior program prepares students to be critical, flexible thinkers who evaluate and integrate information, and who use the scientific method to better understand proximate and ultimate drivers of behavior, to improve the lives of animals and human-animal interactions, and to conserve the species.

The Animal Behavior program realizes its mission through a rigorous interdisciplinary curriculum, a focus on career readiness and internship experiences, and by challenging students with opportunities for undergraduate research both in and out of the classroom. Specifically, the interdisciplinary curriculum is designed to build concept and skill mastery in the discipline of animal behavior and includes coursework in the fields of psychology (the student of behavior and mental processes) and biology (the study of the living world; including marine and environmental sciences), among other disciplines. By the time students graduate, they will know how to think like scientists and be able to effectively articulate focal animal behavior concepts in writing and in speech. Our students will also practice ethical and socially responsible professionalism that will see them through unpredictable career paths. Importantly, the Animal Behavior program will push students intellectually by providing opportunities for research in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom setting, and in doing so will create graduates who are career-ready but also professionally flexible; able to enter the workforce and pursue graduate education.

Major Description

Animal Behavior is an interdisciplinary major with students taking courses in a variety of departments to gain an appreciation of the discipline from multiple perspectives. Animal behavior is the scientific study of not only everything an animal does but why it does it. This major is designed for students who are interested in understanding why animals act the way they do on a proximate and ultimate level. An animal behavior major can lead to employment in national parks, research laboratories, veterinary clinics, animal shelters, aquariums or zoos, or academia. Students who are planning on attending a graduate program in this field should be prepared not only to maintain an appropriately high GPA but also to conduct research in a laboratory on campus or at another institution.

The Animal Behavior program's core values reflect those of the larger University community. We place particular emphasis on the following values:

  • Student Centeredness underpins everything we do
  • We respect diversity in all its forms and actively pursue an inclusive academic environment
  • We recognize and work to conserve the diversity of life as Stewards of the Planet
  • We promote and practice Relentless Inquiry as we seek truth

Curricular Requirements

CAS Core Requirements Credits
Total 42–46
Program Required Courses Credits
PSY 105 - Introduction to Psychology 3
BIO 105/105L - Biology I: Ecology/Evolution w/Lab or MAR 105/105L 4
BIO 106/106L - Biology II: Cellular/Molecular w/Lab or MAR 106/106L 4
CHE 110/110L - General Chemistry I w/Lab 4
CHE 111/111L - General Chemistry II w/Lab 4
PSY 225 - Psychology Statistics 3
PSY 275 - Intro-Tech in Animal Behavior 3
PSY 285 - Research Methods 3
BIO 322 - Comparative Animal Physiology or BIO 245 - General Principles of Anatomy, Physiology & Pathophysiology 4
PSY 335 - Comparative Animal Behavior 3
Organismal topic* 3
PSY 362 - Animal Cognition 3
PSY 365 - Biological Bases of Behavior 3
PSY 384/ 384L - Animal Learning and Behavior or PSY 382/ 382L - Animal Learning and Behavior 4
PSY 425 - Advanced Methods in Animal Behavior 3
PSY 495 - Animal Behavior Internship/Research 3–12
Total 60-69
Animal Behavior Electives

Three electives are required for the animal behavior major if the internship is 3-4 credits. If the internship is 5 or more credits, then only 2 electives are required. Other courses may be applied as electives with the approval of the School of Social and Behavior Sciences Director or Assistant Academic Director.

Elective options Credits
BIO 232 - Microbiology 3
BIO 333 - Evolution 3
BIO 345 - General Prin Anat/Phys/Pathophys 5
BIO 350 - Ecology 4
BIO 459 - Topics: Conservation Ecology Caribbean 3
ENV 208 - Climate Change 3
ENV 250 - Environ Policy Compare Perspect 3
ENV 318 - Advanced Methods in Avian Ecology 4
ENV 319 - Practicum in Field Ecology Squirrels 1
ENV 356 - Terrestrial Wildlife and Ecology 4
MAR 250 - Marine Biology 4
MAR 252 - Nat His Marine Mammals 3
MAR 428 - Marine Conservation 3
PHY 110/PHY 111 - Physics 4–8
PSY 205 - Abnormal Psychology 3
PSY 226 - Motivation & Emotion 3
PSY 245 - Evolutionary Psychology 3
PSY 278 - Captive Animal Management 3
PSY 305 - Special Topics (with program approval) 3
PSY 308 - Animal Communication 3
PSY 316 - Psychology of Consciousness 3
PSY 325 - Psychology of Aging 3
PSY 330 - Psychology of Stress 3
PSY 370 - Drugs, Society, Behavior 3
PSY 383 - Memory & Cognition 3
PSY 364 - Soc & Emot Dev in Childhood 3
PSY 371 - Conservation Behavior 3
PSY 372 - Foraging Behavior 3
PSY 406 - Spec Topics in Animal Behavior 3

*Organismal topics courses must be 200-level or higher and include a hands-on component. These courses include BIO 222 Finfish/Shellfish Culture Tech; BIO 223 Health Nutrition Feeding of Cultured Organisms; BIO 235 Winter Natural History; BIO257/257L Costa Rica: Tropical Forest and Global Change; BIO 305 Mammalogy & BIO 305L Mammalogy Lab; BIO 319 Ornithology; BIO 330 Comp Vert Anatomy; ENV 318 Adv Research Methods Avian Ecol; ENV 356 Terrestrial Wildlife Eco/Cons; MAR 320 Invert Zoology; MAR 331 Biology of Fishes; MAR 355 Biology Marine Mammals; MAR 375 Biology Sharks, Skates, Rays; MAR 435 Icelandic Nature; MAR 451 Topics: Galapagos; PSY 372 Foraging Behavior PSY 406 Spec Topics Animal Behavior.

Minimum Required Total Credits 120

Students in this major can participate in the pre-health graduate school preparation tracks.

Academic and Technical Standards

A grade point average of 2.25 is necessary to be approved to add a major in Psychology, Animal Behavior, or Neuroscience, and to add a minor in Psychology, Animal Behavior, Neuroscience, Art Therapy, or MHRT/C. Double majoring or majoring and minoring within the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences may be possible for a student. However, students interested in this option should do so with close consultation with their academic advisor to ensure that a substantial degree of overlap between the two areas does not occur.

A minimum grade of C- must be achieved in all courses used to fulfill the requirements for the Animal Behavior major. Students must also complete the University Core mathematics requirement by the end of the first year. The program strongly recommends that students take PSY 225 and PSY 285 in their sophomore year. The program requires that PSY 225 and PSY 285 be completed by the end of the junior year. See Undergraduate Academic Policy also.

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of their bachelor's degree program in Animal Behavior, students will be able to

  1. Exhibit critical and integrative thinking skills
  2. Demonstrate ability to communicate scientific information in both oral and written formats
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of key concepts in animal behavior
  4. Exhibit quantitative research skills (or demonstrate ability to perform all parts of the scientific method)
  5. Demonstrate ability to think flexibly and apply knowledge to new problems


A student with GPA of at least 2.25 and a major at UNE may minor in Animal Behavior with the approval of the assistant academic director. Declarations must occur prior to the completion of the first semester of the junior year. Major programs of study with significant course overlap with animal behavior minor requirements may be disallowed by the academic director. Students declaring a minor in animal behavior will not be allowed to double-dip credits across the minor and either major or core requirements (unless no other options are provided by the major, minor, or core requirements). A minimum of eighteen hours of approved course credit with a minimum grade of "C-" in each course is required for the minor in Animal Behavior as follows:

Courses Credits
PSY 105 - Introduction to Psychology 3
PSY 335 - Comparative Animal Behavior 3
PSY 365 - Biological Bases of Behavior 3
One Organismal Topic (see above) 3–4
Animal Behavior Elective (see above) 3–4
PSY 384/384L - Animal Learning and Behavior or PSY382/382L - Animal Learning and Behavior 4
Minimum credits 19

Honors Program

We offer qualified students the option of graduating with Honors. This includes significant research, scholarship, or creative activity under the direction of a faculty member. Interested students should consult with their advisor. 

Transfer Credit

Courses completed at another accredited college can be transferred to this degree program. Transferred courses must be reasonably close in scope and content to the required courses offered at UNE in order to count as exact equivalents. Otherwise, they may transfer as general electives. All courses completed must be no older than five years. Other restrictions apply. See Undergraduate Admissions also.


Financial Information

Tuition and Fees

Tuition and fees for subsequent years may vary. Other expenses include books and housing. For more information regarding tuition and fees, please consult the Financial Information section of this catalog.

Notice and Responsibilities Regarding this Catalog

This Catalog documents the academic programs, policies, and activities of the University of New England for the 2022–2023 academic year. The information contained herein is accurate as of date of publication May 2, 2022.

The University of New England reserves the right in its sole judgment to make changes of any nature in its programs, calendar, or academic schedule whenever it is deemed necessary or desirable, including changes in course content, the rescheduling of classes with or without extending the academic term, canceling of scheduled classes or other academic activities, in any such case giving such notice thereof as is reasonably practicable under the circumstances.

While each student may work closely with an academic advisor, he or she must retain individual responsibility for meeting requirements in this catalog and for being aware of any changes in provisions or requirements.