Skip to content

Wildlife and Fisheries Science – Wildlife Health Concentration Major Guide for 2016-2017

What is Wildlife and Fisheries Science – Wildlife Health Concentration

The curriculum provides training for biologists interested in ensuring the health of wildlife and fish populations to help conserve wild species, and to protect domestic animals and humans from diseases spread by wildlife.   Emphasis is placed on population-level management (rather than rehabilitation of individual animals).  Wildlife Health is a challenging aspect of wildlife management, and students within this concentration are encouraged to continue to either a graduate degree (such as a Master of Science or a Master of Public Health) or a Veterinary degree.  To that end, the concentration meets most entry requirements for Graduate Schools, Veterinary Schools, and most Medical Schools.

Career Opportunities in Wildlife and Fisheries Science – Wildlife Health Concentration

Students with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in the Wildlife Health concentration may have opportunities as junior technicians or fieldworkers, within state agencies for example.  However, for the higher-level wildlife health positions, state wildlife and fisheries agencies increasingly tend to hire either wildlife science post-graduates with a sound understanding of wildlife health, or veterinarians who have an understanding of natural resource management.  This concentration also prepares students to apply for Graduate School or Veterinary School.

Students who complete a veterinary degree may seek employment with state or federal agencies (e.g., diagnostic laboratories, state wildlife veterinarians) and NGOs (conservation organizations), or pursue specialty training (e.g., parasitology, virology, pathology, zoo-wildlife medicine, conservation medicine) or private practice.  Students who continue to graduate school in Wildlife Science or a related field in biology have many exciting research options in biology, ecology, wildlife management and wildlife health. The Master of Science (MS) in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Natural Resources degrees are offered through the graduate program in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries at the University of Tennessee. Graduate students in these programs have the option to focus their courses and graduate research on wildlife health applications.  Students receiving a Ph.D. in Natural Resources are generally interested in teaching and/or research at universities or other institutions, or in serving in positions with conservation organizations and state and federal agencies.

Successful applicants for the most prestigious jobs in the area of wildlife health typically have the dual qualification of a PhD together with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). These jobs include state wildlife veterinarians, researchers and policy specialists at federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and research veterinarians with zoos or conservation organizations. A dual PhD/DVM is a challenging goal because of the many years of study required and the associated high financial commitment.

Salary Trends in Wildlife and Fisheries Science – Wildlife Health Concentration

Recent graduates of the Wildlife Health Concentration have continued their studies in veterinary school.  Therefore, salary trends vary depending on advanced degrees, location, candidate’s abilities, and previous work experience.

High School Preparation

Students interested in majoring in wildlife health should focus on high school courses emphasizing science and math. Courses in biology, chemistry, and agriculture are particularly useful. Criteria for admission include successful completion of the full high school program, grade point average, and acceptable performance on the ACT or SAT tests. Students completing advanced placement high school courses may be able to test out of certain university courses following their enrollment at the University of Tennessee.

How to Major in Wildlife Health

Students interested in majoring in wildlife health should contact the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries. Each student is assigned to a wildlife health faculty member who advises the student with program planning and career counseling.

Requirements for Wildlife Health

All students at UT are required to complete 14 courses as part of the general education requirement. These courses have been integrated into the wildlife health curriculum and are completed as part of the four-year curriculum. To meet the requirements, courses must be completed in: English composition, mathematical sciences, humanities and the arts, cultures and civilizations, social sciences, and natural sciences.

All students in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries must apply for permission to progress to junior- and senior-level classes in the department. Students must obtain an overall 2.2 GPA in 13 core courses including English, mathematics, chemistry, biology, economics, public speaking, statistics, and ecology. In addition, each student must provide a statement of career goals, names of three references, a summary of work experience, and a transcript.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

A formal internship program is available for wildlife health students through the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries.  Most students acquire work experience during the summers preceding their junior and senior years, either through a formal internship or informally with private companies or state or federal agencies.  Wildlife health faculty members assist students in identifying work experience opportunities, and interviews for these positions are coordinated through the department.

Highlights of Wildlife Health

Students take all of the prerequisites to apply for professional programs.  In addition, many wildlife ecology and health courses are taken during the junior and senior year including:

  • Ecology and Management of Wildlife Health
  • Fisheries Science
  • Ecology and Management of Mammals
  • Ecology and Management of Wild Birds
  • Amphibians Conservation and Ecology
  • Wildlife Physiology and Nutrition

Ready for the World

Students are encouraged to participate in faculty-led study abroad programs sponsored by CASNR. Other UT faculty-led and semester abroad programs are offered through the Center for International Education, and some students choose to spend a semester or year abroad as part of their degree program. CASNR does offer some scholarships for CASNR students participating in study abroad programs. Students, faculty and staff participate in the annual Unity through Diversity Dinner held each fall. Some students select a minor in Modern Foreign Languages and Literature.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Experience Learning

Experience Learning LogoExperience Learning is a bold new initiative with the goal of transforming the educational student experience at the University of Tennessee. Over a five-year period, UT will transform our culture to give students more opportunities to be involved in civic engagement, solve complex real-world problems, and contribute to the welfare of their communities as part of their regular course work.

The purpose of Experience Learning is to help students apply the knowledge, skills, and values learned in the classroom to real-world challenges. Experience Learning also seeks to engage student learning through direct experience and intense reflection to increase knowledge, acquire lifelong learning and problem-solving skills, and elucidate values.

Learn more about Experience Learning.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. Beginning with first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students entering in the Fall 2013 semester, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, go to

For More Information

Dr. Keith Belli
 Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, 
427 Plant Biotech Building 
Knoxville, TN 37996-4563
(865) 974-7126


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.