Zoologists study animals—their origin, behavior, diseases, and life processes. Some experiment with live animals in controlled or natural surroundings while others study the structure and function of animal cells, tissues, and organ systems. Some zoologists go on to study veterinary medicine. Zoologists participate in research that has practical outcomes in farming, medicine, pharmacy, wildlife conservation, and pest control. Zoology encompasses many specialties. At CSU, students may focus on general training in animal biology or choose a concentration in the following areas: animal behavior, development, aquatic biology, ecology (how animals adapt to their environments), genetics and evolution, invertebrate organisms, cellular/molecular biology and physiology, systematics, and morphology of vertebrate organisms.

The curriculum is designed to provide a basic understanding of zoology through a variety of laboratory experiences in combination with the study of basic theories and defining concepts. The program encourages flexibility, strength, and depth. The course work includes a two-semester introductory biology sequence, one course each in invertebrates and vertebrates, and courses in evolution and ecology. Required courses in the physical sciences include a minimum of one year of introductory chemistry and at least one course in organic chemistry, two courses in physics (all with labs) and one in biochemistry. A course each in calculus and statistics is also required. In addition, students select a minimum of 15 credits of Zoology courses in their chosen areas of concentration.

Learning Outcomes

In addition to mastery of biological knowledge and skills, students will:

  • Interpret scientific data.
  • Demonstrate strong organizational and laboratory skills.
  • Define scientific hypotheses and design experiments to test them.
  • Work effectively in groups.
  • Demonstrate strong writing and oral communication skills.

Potential Occupations

This major prepares students to work in various areas of zoology, such as research or private industry, or to begin graduate school or professional studies. Career opportunities include medical biotechnology, research technician, protective agencies such as shelters and refuges, trainers and handlers, animal-related business, aquatic/marine biologists, exotic animal specialists, and wildlife conservation. It is an appropriate major for students planning to attend medical or veterinary school. Graduates often pursue advanced degrees to carry out basic research or advance into leadership positions in industry. Participation in internships, laboratory, or research opportunities is highly recommended and encouraged by the department to enhance practical training and development.

Additional careers for Zoology majors include, but are not limited to: aquarium and museum curator/director; zoo keeper, animal trainer and instructor, science librarian, environmental technician, fish and wildlife technician, veterinary technician/assistant, marine bacteriologist or biologist or ecologist, humane society positions, cytotechnologist, ecologist, fisheries biologist or conservationist, laboratory technician, marketing researcher, medical technologist, park ranger, pharmaceutical sales representative, production supervisor, quality analysis technician in food or pharmaceutical industry, radiation protection technician, research technician, industrial hygienist, wildlife photographer.

Change of Major Process 

  • For future or incoming CSU students: Please contact Admissions to declare Zoology.
  • For current on-campus CSU students: To learn more about Zoology and decide if you are interested in declaring, you must first review the Zoology Major Requirements. Then sign up for and attend a Major Information Session:
    • These are 50-minute group sessions led by advisors with individualized course recommendations and built-in time to answer your questions.
    • If you are exploring the Zoology major, or if you are registering before your session, we recommend you review the Zoology Major Requirements link above and register for any open courses that you are eligible to add. 

Effective Fall 2023

To be qualified for graduation, students in the Zoology major must have a minimum grade of C- in each of their biological, physical science, and mathematical courses used to meet requirements for the major. This applies to courses taken as substitutions for meeting these requirements. The minimum scholastic average acceptable for graduation is 2.000 computed only for courses attempted at CSU.

CHEM 111General Chemistry I (GT-SC2)3A4
CHEM 112General Chemistry Lab I (GT-SC1)3A1
CO 150College Composition (GT-CO2)1A3
LIFE 102Attributes of Living Systems (GT-SC1)3A4
LIFE 103Biology of Organisms-Animals and Plants (GT-SC1)3A4
Select one from the following: 4
Calculus for Biological Scientists I (GT-MA1)1B 
Calculus for Physical Scientists I (GT-MA1)1B 
Arts and Humanities3B6
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion1C3
 Total Credits 29
BZ 212Animal Biology-Invertebrates 4
BZ 214Animal Biology-Vertebrates 4
BZ 220Introduction to Evolution 3
CHEM 113General Chemistry II 3
CHEM 114General Chemistry Lab II 1
CHEM 2452Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry 4
CHEM 246Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry Laboratory 1
STAT 301 or 307Introduction to Applied Statistical Methods
Introduction to Biostatistics
Historical Perspectives3D3
Social and Behavioral Sciences3C3
Electives1 2
 Total Credits 31
BZ 310Cell Biology 4
Select one group from the following: 4-6
Group A:  
Principles of Biochemistry  
Group B:  
Comprehensive Biochemistry I  
Comprehensive Biochemistry II  
Select one group from the following: 10
Group A:
General Physics I (GT-SC1)3A 
General Physics II (GT-SC1)3A 
Group B:
Physics for Scientists and Engineers I (GT-SC1)3A 
Physics for Scientists and Engineers II (GT-SC1)3A 
Upper-Division Zoology List 6
Electives1 4-6
 Total Credits 30
BZ 350Molecular and General Genetics4A,4B4
LIFE 320Ecology4C3
Upper-Division Zoology List 9
Advanced Writing23
Electives1 11
 Total Credits 30
 Program Total Credits: 120

Upper-Division Zoology List

ANEQ 320Principles of Animal Nutrition3
ANEQ 322Pet Nutrition2
ANEQ 323Zoo Nutrition2
ANTH 470Paleontology Field School4
BSPM 302Applied and General Entomology2
BSPM 303AEntomology Laboratory: General2
BZ 300Animal Behavior3
BZ 311Developmental Biology4
BZ 329A
BZ 329B
Herpetology: Lecture
and Herpetology: Laboratory
BZ 330A
BZ 330B
Mammalogy: Lecture
and Mammalogy: Laboratory
BZ 335Ornithology3
BZ 340Field Mammalogy4
BZ 342Exploring Range Shifts in a Changing World3
BZ 348/MATH 348Theory of Population and Evolutionary Ecology4
BZ 349Tropical Ecology and Evolution3
BZ 360Bioinformatics and Genomics4
BZ 401Comparative Animal Physiology3
BZ 415Marine Biology4
BZ 418Ecology of Infectious Diseases4
BZ 420Evolutionary Medicine3
BZ 424/BSPM 424Principles of Systematic Science3
BZ 425Conservation and Population Genomics3
BZ 430Animal Behavior and Conservation3
BZ 433Behavioral Genetics3
BZ 435AStudy Abroad--Honduras: Field Course--Dolphin Behavior and Physiology2
BZ 435BStudy Abroad--Mexico: Practices in Marine Biology and Ecology3
BZ 449AStudy Abroad: Ecology/Conservation–Ecuadorian Biodiversity4
BZ 455Human Heredity and Birth Defects3
BZ 460Genome Evolution4
BZ 462/MIP 462/BSPM 462Parasitology and Vector Biology5
BZ 471Stream Biology and Ecology3
BZ 472Stream Biology and Ecology Laboratory1
BZ 475Marine Mammalogy3
BZ 476/BZ 576Genetics of Model Organisms3
BZ 477Genome Editing Laboratory2
BZ 478/VS 478Biology and Behavior of Cats3
BZ 479/VS 479Biology and Behavior of Dogs3
BZ 492ASeminar: Behavior1-3
BZ 492BSeminar: Ecology1-3
BZ 492CSeminar: Genetics1-3
BZ 492DSeminar: Ornithology1-3
BZ 492ESeminar: Herpetology1-3
BZ 492FSeminar: Evolution1-3
BZ 496Group Study—Biology1-3
BZ 505Cognitive Ecology3
BZ 510Zoophysiological Ecology3
BZ 515Physiological Ecology of Marine Vertebrates3
BZ 525Advanced Conservation & Evolutionary Genomics4
BZ 535Behavioral and Cognitive Ecology3
BZ 560Teaching and Communicating Science3
BZ 565/MIP 565Next Generation Sequencing Platform/Libraries1
FW 300Biology and Diversity of Fishes2
FW 301Ichthyology Laboratory1
FW 400Conservation of Fish in Aquatic Ecosystems3
FW 405Fish Physiology3
GEOL 342Paleontology3
NR 312Applied Insect Ecology3
A maximum of 6 credits may be selected from the following courses:
Principles of Human Physiology
Domestic Animal Gross Anatomy
General Microbiology
General Microbiology Laboratory
Pathology of Human and Animal Disease
Immunology Laboratory
A maximum of 3 credits may be selected from the following courses:
Supervised College Teaching
Independent Study
Laboratory or Field Research

Select enough elective credits to bring the program total to a minimum of 120 credits, of which at least 42 must be upper-division (300- to 400-level).


CHEM 341, CHEM 343, and CHEM 344 may be taken as an alternative to CHEM 245 and CHEM 246.

Distinctive Requirements for Degree Program:
TO PREPARE FOR FIRST SEMESTER: The curriculum for the Zoology major assumes students enter college prepared to take calculus. Entering students who are not prepared to take calculus will need to fulfill pre‐calculus requirements in the first semester. LIFE 102 requires high school chemistry as a prerequisite; CHEM 111 requires Algebra II as a prerequisite (this prerequisite is met by having Algebra II by test credit, transfer credit, or placement out of MATH 117 and MATH 118 on Math Placement Exam). Earned grade of C or better is required in each of their biological, physical science, and mathematical courses used to meet requirements for the major.  Term 5 may have to be adjusted if the student chooses 2 semesters of Organic Chemistry. It is recommended that you do not take BZ 350 and BZ 310 together. 

Semester 1CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
CO 150College Composition (GT-CO2)X 1A3
LIFE 102Attributes of Living Systems (GT-SC1)X 3A4
Arts and Humanities X3B3
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion X1C3
MATH 117, MATH 118 may be necessary for some students to fulfill pre-calculus requirements.X   
 Total Credits   13
Semester 2CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
CHEM 111General Chemistry I (GT-SC2)X 3A4
CHEM 112General Chemistry Lab I (GT-SC1)X 3A1
LIFE 103Biology of Organisms-Animals and Plants (GT-SC1)X 3A4
Select one course from the following:X  4
Calculus for Biological Scientists I (GT-MA1)  1B 
Calculus for Physical Scientists I (GT-MA1)  1B 
Arts and Humanities X3B3
CO 150 must be completed by the end of Semester 2.X   
MATH 124, MATH 125 may be necessary for some students to fulfill pre-calculus requirements.X   
 Total Credits   16
Semester 3CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
BZ 212Animal Biology-InvertebratesX  4
BZ 220Introduction to EvolutionX  3
CHEM 113General Chemistry IIX  3
CHEM 114General Chemistry Lab IIX  1
Historical Perspectives X3D3
Elective X 2
MATH 155 or MATH 160 must be completed by the end of Semester 3.X   
 Total Credits   16
Semester 4CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
BZ 214Animal Biology-VertebratesX  4
CHEM 245Fundamentals of Organic ChemistryX  4
CHEM 246Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry LaboratoryX  1
Select one course from the following:X  3
Introduction to Applied Statistical Methods    
Introduction to Biostatistics    
Social and Behavioral Sciences X3C3
 Total Credits   15
Semester 5CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
Select one course from the following:X  3-4
Principles of Biochemistry    
Comprehensive Biochemistry I    
Select one course from the following:X  5
General Physics I (GT-SC1)  3A 
Physics for Scientists and Engineers I (GT-SC1)  3A 
Upper-Division Zoology Course (See List on Requirements Tab)X  3
Elective X 2-3
STAT 301 or STAT 307 must be completed by the end of Semester 5.X   
 Total Credits   14
Semester 6CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
BZ 310Cell BiologyX  4
To complete BC 401 series option:X  0-3
Comprehensive Biochemistry II    
Select one course from the following:X  5
General Physics II (GT-SC1)  3A 
Physics for Scientists and Engineers II (GT-SC1)  3A 
Upper-Division Zoology Course (See List on Requirements Tab)X  3
Elective X 2-3
 Total Credits   16
Semester 7CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
BZ 350Molecular and General GeneticsX 4A,4B4
Upper-Division Zoology Course (See List on Requirements Tab)X  3
Advanced Writing X23
Electives X 5
PH 121 must be completed by the end of Semester 7.X   
 Total Credits   15
Semester 8CriticalRecommendedAUCCCredits
LIFE 320EcologyX 4C3
Upper-Division Zoology Courses (See List on Requirements Tab)X  6
Electives X 6
The benchmark courses for the 8th semester are the remaining courses in the entire program of study.X   
 Total Credits   15
 Program Total Credits:   120