Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Animal Behavior

  • Please note that the Animal Behavior major and minor are not available for first year and transfer students entering in or after 2016-2017. As we restructure our curriculum, we continue to offer most of the courses that were part of this program in the Psychology and Biology departments.

Majoring & Minoring

Students may major in Animal Behavior with a BA or a BS.  A minor is also offered in consultation with the Program Chair.

Major in Animal Behavior (BA or BS)

Southwestern offers one of the very few opportunities nationally to major in Animal Behavior as an undergraduate.  Animal Behavior is an interdisciplinary major offered by the departments of Biology and Psychology. Because the Animal Behavior program is taught from both perspectives, students learn first-hand how two different disciplines can combine for a greater understanding of behavior.

Coursework for both the BA and the BS includes the following:

  • Intro to AB Course, Introductory Psychology and Statistics
  • 4 Biology mini-courses
  • First year Chemistry
  • Year-long Research Methods Course
  • Evolution
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Capstone in AB Research


The BS requires additional courses in the Natural Sciences (i.e. Organic Chemistry, Physics, Calculus).  Most students desiring to continue their education at professional schools (MD, DVM, etc…) opt for choosing the BS. 

The rest of the course options can be found in our Degree Plan (the University Catalog for each year sets the official requirements).  All course selection should be made with the guidance of an academic advisor.

Minor in Animal Behavior

22 semester hours, including Biology 50-112, 122; Mathematics 52-113; Psychology 33-103; Biology 50-213 or Psychology 33-253; nine additional hours of courses in the Animal Behavior major above the introductory level, chosen with the approval of the program chair.

In addition to the required and selected courses listed above, students participate in research projects under the supervision of faculty members. The research may be conducted in department laboratories or at field sites. Research opportunities are also available at off-campus laboratories and facilities.

Related to the student’s research experience, a final requirement for the Animal Behavior major is completion of the capstone project (usually in the senior year). This project consists of conducting original research in the student’s area of interest and in cooperation with one of the program’s faculty advisers. This requirement is fulfilled through the second three-hour block of research credit (50-973, 33-833 or 33-853), depending on interest and results in a written and oral presentation of research findings.