Animal Studies and Natural Sciences FAQs

Thank you for your interest in the School of Animal Studies & Natural Sciences at Becker College. You may find answers to some of your questions here. FAQs are listed by major.

Animal Care

Is it okay to be unsure about a career in animal care?

While our students know they want to work directly with animals, many are uncertain about their career choice. The program is designed to provide students with exposure to different areas to help them make a decision that is right for them.

What is the difference between the animal care and the veterinary technology programs?

The animal care program focuses more on the care and husbandry of animals rather than on their medical and clinical needs.  Both degrees allow students to work with live animals during their academic career, but because the veterinary technology program is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are more restrictions and structure.

After earning an associate degree in animal care, can I also earn a bachelor’s degree?

Absolutely! The two-year degree can progress into a four-year degree. Some degree paths taken at Becker by graduates from the animal care program are: B.S., laboratory animal management; B.S., psychology, and B.S, criminal justice.

As a graduate of the animal care and/or laboratory animal science program(s), am I eligible for National Laboratory Animal Technician certification?

After graduation, if you are employed in biomedical research and/or the lab animal care profession and achieve six months of full-time employment, you may be eligible to sit for the first of the three levels of AALAS certification. Click here to learn more about the AALAS technician certification program.

What are some career paths for animal care program graduates?

Our animal care program takes a “liberal arts” approach to expose students to different areas in the field.  Some examples of fields in which our students have found employment are:

  • Kennels: Graduates are involved in boarding operations, training, daycare, breeding, and even showing.
  • Small business owner: Graduates have started their own businesses in doggie day care, pet sitting, and selling animal products.  NOTE: Courses in business and management are beneficial for launching a small business.
  • Humane Society/rescue groups
  • Animal “cop”:  Education in criminal justice would benefit those interested in the animal “cop” profession.
  • Grooming

Biology

What can I do with a Biology degree?
The career options for those with a degree in biology are enormous! Some of our students are interested in continuing their education after Becker – in medical school, veterinary school, or master’s or Ph.D. programs in any number of specialty fields. Others go on to careers in biotech, research, forestry, wildlife management, marine biology, or education. Other options include physical therapy, dentistry, pharmaceuticals, genetic counseling, and bioinformatics. Biology is everywhere around us – and so are biology majors!

Are there opportunities for me to get experience in biology outside the classroom?
Absolutely – in fact, it’s required! All biology majors at Becker complete an internship of their choice during their senior year. Faculty members and advisors help guide students in their search for an internship that matches their personal interests. Previous students have completed internships in research laboratories, wildlife rehabilitation centers, the Ecotarium, pharmacies, and animal shelters, to name just a few!

As a biology major, do I have to take the same classes as all the other biology majors?
Not at all! Our curriculum is designed to be flexible and to allow each student to personalize their own education. All biology majors take approximately 40 credits of “core” biology classes – things like general biology, chemistry, cell biology, genetics, and biochemistry, to name a few. They will also take courses that will fulfill their general education requirements, as do all Becker students. However, the remaining classes are all considered “elective” courses and students can choose their biology electives from a list of approved courses. Academic advisors are available to help students choose those electives that best meet their career goals and interests.


Laboratory Animal Science

What does the Laboratory Animal Concentration program consist of?
This program educates students about the importance of handling laboratory animals with care, minimizing variables that could skew research data, and understanding federal research animal regulations. Students learn not only through textbooks, but also at the College’s Lenfest Animal Health Center, through field trips to shelters, and in externships/practicums at approved research facilities. Students also receive training in non-human primate and exotic animal research methodologies, nutrition, ethics, and laboratory management. Additional science electives are available for students to refine their career focus, including but not limited to genomics, immunology, biotechniques, pathophysiology, cell biology, and research methods in science.

What types of careers would I be able to pursue upon graduation?
Typical employment opportunities are listed below:
USDA, NIH, Government Agencies
◦ Farm Service
◦ Agriculture Research Service
◦ Animal Health Inspection Service
Academic Research Labs/Centers
◦ Animal Caretaker/Technician
◦ Lab Manager
◦ Research Assistant/Associate
Industrial Animal Research Facilities, Biotech/Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Agriculture Companies
◦ Animal caretaker/Technician,
◦ Veterinary Technician
◦ Research Assistant/Associate
◦ Animal Research Facility Manager
◦ Contractor
◦ Lab Technician/Manager
Medical or Non-Profit Animal Research/Protection Organizations
◦ Animal Caretaker
◦ Veterinary Technician
◦ Animal Educator
◦ Research Assistant/Associate
Agricultural Biotech Companies (Cattle Embryo/Sperm Production)
◦ Genetic Breeding Specialist
◦ Reproduction Service Specialist
◦ Data Analyst
◦ Farm Managment Consultant
◦ Artificial Insemination Technician
Food/Food Animal Production and Biotechnology Regulation- Legal Services

What is the career industry outlook?
Driven by the rapidly growing biomedical industry, the field of laboratory animal science offers a wealth of employment opportunities for talented and trained individuals in hospitals, colleges and universities, research institutes, and biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms. Nationally the field is expected to grow faster than the average. Career advancement is enhanced with the pursuit of a post-graduate degree.

Does Laboratory Animal Science constitute working solely with rodents?
This is the most common misconception with regards to the field of Laboratory Animal Science. Research institutions, agricultural facilities, and governmental agencies utilize a wide variety of animal models, and a Laboratory Animal technologist can find themselves working with animals of all species, great and small. Rodent, rabbit, ferret, non-human primate, porcine, equine, and avian are just some of the animal models that require the skilled, humane, and educated care of a trained technologist.

Equine Studies


What can I do with a degree in Equine Studies?

Occupations that rely on employees having knowledge of horses are barn manager, industry worker (pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, tack shops, feed companies), researcher, and educator.

Can I specialize in one area of equine studies?

The B.S. in Veterinary Science, Equine Studies concentration is broad enough to give students a general working knowledge of all aspects of equine work while offering elective courses where a student can investigate an area of special interest.


Pre-Veterinary Studies

Do I need to be a prevet major if I want to go to veterinary school?
No, you don’t! You can and should pursue a major that fascinates you! To qualify to apply to veterinary school you need to complete certain prerequisite coursework and obtain veterinary experience. To have a competitive application, you will need a strong GPA (overall, in the pre-requisite courses, and in upper level science courses) and a diverse portfolio of in-depth veterinary and research experiences. Becker’s preveterinary curriculum is designed to meet the prerequisites for most veterinary schools and incorporates upper level science courses and externship experience to help you develop a competitive application and to succeed in vet school and in the veterinary profession. You can start gaining veterinary experience from day one at the Becker Veterinary Clinic and receive mentorship from our seven full time veterinarians on campus throughout your time at Becker and beyond.
I am undecided between becoming a veterinary technician or preparing to apply to veterinary school. Can I do both during my four years at Becker?
Yes, you can pursue a degree in veterinary technology and add the minimum pre-requisite course work to qualify to apply to veterinary school. Adding the “Minor in Preveterinary Studies” to the Veterinary Technology major creates a very challenging course load, but is a good option for a strong student who would like to become a veterinary technician and to keep open the option for applying to veterinary school in the future.* Alternatively, it is an option to pursue the veterinary technology degree and then complete additional required pre-requisite coursework for veterinary school after graduation.
*It is important to note that most veterinary schools have an “expiration date” for prerequisite coursework, and that after a certain number of years a prerequisite course would need to be repeated qualify.
If I am not part of the veterinary technology program, will I have any opportunities to gain experience at the Becker Veterinary Clinic?
Yes, all students interested in applying to veterinary school are encouraged to spend time with the veterinarians and veterinary technicians at our clinic. Prevets can observe exam room appointments and surgeries, work in the kennel or learn about in-house diagnostics such as laboratory testing, radiography, and ultrasound. Work-study or volunteer positions are available in surgery prep, the front office, or caring for our program animals. Starting in 2019, prevet students will be required to spend time in the clinic before starting an off-campus summer externship.
What if I decide part way through my prevet degree that I don’t want to go to veterinary school?
That’s okay! You may continue with the preveterinary curriculum if you wish. It provides a broad-based science curriculum that prepares you for most of the pre-health professional program requirements or post-graduate studies or entry-level work in the biomedical field. You may alternatively change majors after meeting with your advisor. Transfer into the veterinary technology programs is allowed, space-permitting, for academically qualified students, but may necessitate additional semesters to graduate.
What extracurricular activities should I consider if I am interested in the veterinary profession?
We recommend any extracurricular activity that will help you explore your personal and professional interests, become involved with the community, and enjoy your time while here at Becker! Take advantage of any opportunity that will help you build your leadership and social skills. For our animal lovers at Becker, we have many animal-centered clubs such as the Prevet Club, Future Farmers of America, and the Marine Wildlife Conservation Club. Join the Becker Equestrian Team or take riding lessons at the barn in Paxton. Several overseas service trips are planned each year, such as World Vets (Equador) and the Mazunte Turtle Project (Mexico). Look into a spending a semester or summer externship abroad. Volunteer at local animal shelters or with our team that provides no-cost veterinary care to pets in need at the Worcester Housing Authority. Get involved!


Veterinary Technology

As a graduate of the veterinary technology program, am I eligible for certification?

Depending on the direction you’d like your career to take, graduates of an AVMA-accredited veterinary technology program are eligible to apply for certification in clinical practice and/or research. Clinical practice certification in Massachusetts for veterinary technicians is voluntary. If you wish to become certified, you will need to achieve a qualifying score on the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) and apply for certification through the state veterinary technician association. Similarly, the Certification and Registry Board (CRB) of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS) certifies technicians working in the biomedical research sector. After graduation from a veterinary technology program and six months of full-time employment in a research setting, you may be eligible to sit for the first of the three levels of AALAS certification.  Information about the AALAS technician certification program is available at the AALAS website.


 

Veterinary Science Concentrations

What differentiates Becker College’s veterinary science programs from other colleges’ pre-vet programs?

The ability to gain experience at a veterinary clinic located right on campus and the opportunity for mentorship by the school’s seven full-time veterinarians is special part of Becker’s pre-veterinary program.  Additionally, a dedicated team of advisors meet with veterinary science students on a regular basis to help guide them through their curriculum schedule and career exploration, including the veterinary school application process.

Our goal is for all Becker College students to develop the Agile Mindset, which will help set them apart from other graduates.  Empathy, divergent thinking, and social and emotional intelligence are essential characteristics of future veterinarians, and are skills valued by graduate admissions and future employers alike.

Do I need to be a pre-veterinary major to apply to vet schools?

To apply to veterinary school, prerequisite coursework is required, but not any specific major.  For example, a student could be an English major, and as long as they took all the required coursework in addition to their major requirements, he/she would be eligible to apply. Becker’s pre-veterinary program offers students a major that delivers a strong scientific foundation and prepares them for both entering the workforce and/or pursuing graduate studies in the health science field, including veterinary school.  Becker’s pre-veterinary curriculum includes all of the prerequisite courses required by most veterinary schools plus 400 hours of externship experience in the veterinary field built into the curriculum.

What are the requirements for applying to the veterinary science programs?

  • Students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.7 or better.
  • Two years of college preparatory level education, including Biology with a lab and Chemistry with a lab. Both courses must be completed within five years of entrance, with a minimum grade of  a “C+” OR completion of a four-credit college course in Biology with a lab  and a four-credit college Chemistry course with a lab within five years of entrance, with a grade of “C” or better to satisfy the pre-requisite science requirement.
  • Two years of college preparatory level secondary school Mathematics, including Algebra I and II or Algebra I and Geometry. Both courses must be completed within five years, with a minimum grade of “C+.” A three-credit college course in College Algebra within 5 years with a grade of “C” or better will also satisfy the prerequisite math requirement.
  • Complete 3 years of secondary school English with a grade of “C” or better.
  • Physical requirements include the ability to lift 50 pounds, being able to observe normal and abnormal behaviors of animals using different senses (e.g., vision and hearing).

Can I specialize in one species?

Our programs provide exposure to dogs, cats, laboratory animals, horses, and ruminants.  Since many of our majors include a veterinary technology degree that has specifications regarding animal exposure, we do not allow students to specialize in one species. We do have opportunities for students with large animal interests in our farm animal practice course, which is a requirement for the Veterinary Technology programs.  Students work with livestock as well as horses, swine, and poultry at other farm sites.  However, most hands-on work at the College is with cats and dogs. Some externships and preceptorships are species-specific; in addition, there are opportunities to work at zoos, aquariums, and wildlife parks, and to travel to foreign countries such as South Africa. Externship and preceptorship opportunities in the Laboratory Animal Management program provide the opportunity to work in lab animal and research facilities where many different species are used as animal models for basic and applied research programs.

How soon after starting the program do I work with live animals?

Our Veterinary Technician students begin hands on laboratories and courses in their first semester.  While Pre-Veterinary students do not have any classes or labs at the clinic, they are encouraged to begin seeking out opportunities to gain animal and veterinary experience as soon as possible, including work study or volunteer positions at the Becker Veterinary Clinic.  All veterinary science majors require externships in the veterinary field, some of which may be completed on campus.

Where do graduates find employment?

Initially, most of our graduates work in settings involving small animal medicine, shelter medicine, large animal medicine, research, and exotic/wildlife medicine.  Some become certified in a specialty of veterinary medicine such as internal medicine, emergency medicine/critical care, anesthesia, and dentistry.  A significant percentage of graduates gain employment from externship/preceptorship rotations, which occur the summer before the sophomore year of the associate degree program or the senior year for the bachelor degree program. Externship and preceptorship programs are quite detailed in their requirements, and we have an extensive network of practices that seek out our students.

Laboratory Animal Management students also benefit from the internship and preceptorship experiences, which can offer future employment possibilities or serve as sources of references for high-performing students.  Examples of recent research and laboratory animal medicine employers of our graduates include: Harvard University, Boston University, Brown University, Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Pfizer.  Graduates are also are employed in sales of medical devices, and have gone on to teach.

What can a Becker graduate do with a B.S. in Veterinary Science that they cannot do with an A.S. in Veterinary Technology?

Those who have earned either an A.S. or B.S. in Veterinary Technology meet the requirements to become certified, registered, or licensed as a veterinary technician, depending upon the state where they reside. Students who have completed the A.S. degree also have the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in veterinary science or another academic program. The B.S. in Veterinary Science (pre-veterinary medicine, Veterinary Technology, or Laboratory Animal Medicine) concentrations provides students with additional options and flexibility.  For example, a bachelor’s degree is required for graduate study, and many supervisory positions require a bachelor degree.

Our B.S. graduates have applied for post-graduate work in animal science, biological sciences, criminal justice, physician’s assistants, and veterinary medicine.  In clinical medicine practice, it is more likely that salaries will be higher for students with a bachelor’s degree than with an associate’s degree.  In addition, employers look more favorably upon a student with a bachelor’s degree due to the additional general knowledge, exposure to more in-depth courses, lab and clinical experience, and maturity associated with a four-year degree.  Students obtaining either the A.S. in Veterinary Technology or B.S. in Veterinary Science have the option of sitting for a national exam to become certified, registered, or licensed in veterinary technology or laboratory animal science.

What colleges of veterinary medicine have accepted Becker graduates?

There are currently 30 AVMA accredited veterinary schools in the country and several more worldwide.  Our graduates have been accepted to over 20 of these schools, such as Tufts and UPenn,University of Florida, and Lincoln Memorial University. Additionally, many pre-vet students have take advantage of Becker’s articulation agreement with Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Can students minor in other programs?

A student can minor in any of the designated minor degrees listed in the Becker catalog, but should work with their advisor to ensure the minor degree requirements will fit into their regular curriculum.

How easy is it for me to switch programs?

Students are able to switch to a different major if they wish to.  Depending on the timing of the switch, some classes already completed in one program may not count towards completion of the other degree program. This could extend the students time to graduation.  Our advising team can help you with the details of each option.  Switching into the AVMA accredited programs in veterinary technology is allowed but on a space available basis.

As a graduate of the laboratory animal management program, am I eligible for National Laboratory Animal Technician certification?

After graduation, if you are employed in biomedical research and/or the lab animal care profession and achieve six months of full-time employment, you may be eligible to sit for the first of the three levels of AALAS certification.