Wildlife and Fisheries Science – Wildlife Health Concentration Major Guide for 2011-2012

What is Wildlife and Fisheries Science – Wildlife Health Concentration

Wildlife health and wildlife disease management are more important today than ever before.  Numerous diseases including white nose syndrome, chytridiomycosis, rabies, toxoplasmosis, and chronic wasting disease can have major impacts on the health of wildlife populations.  Additionally the zoonotic potential of many disease agents harbored by wildlife, including rabies, and Lyme disease, further highlights the necessity of disease awareness from a public health standpoint. The curriculum provides training for biologists interested in ensuring the health of wildlife and fisheries populations to help conserve wild species, and to protect domestic animals and humans from diseases associated with 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 all 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 wildlife disease technicians or fieldworkers within state or federal agencies.  However, they are encouraged to apply for Graduate School or Veterinary School.  The need for wildlife health specialists is on the rise and wildlife and fisheries agencies increasingly tend to hire either post-graduates with a sound understanding of wildlife health, or veterinarians who have an understanding of natural resource management.   

Students who complete a veterinary degree have the option of being a wildlife veterinarian or going into zoo, exotic, or domestic-animal practice.  Students who continue on to graduate school in Wildlife Science or a related field in biology have many exciting research options in biology, ecology, wildlife management, infectious diseases, 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 and these students 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 a variety of positions with conservation organizations and agencies.

Successful applicants for most prestigious jobs in the area of wildlife health – for example within Federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – typically have the dual qualification of a PhD together with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM).

Wildlife Health Concentration

This curriculum is designed for progression to Veterinary School or a graduate program in wildlife science. Therefore, the salary will be determined by the terminal degree attained.

High School Preparation

Students interested in wildlife health as a major should develop a high school program emphasizing the sciences. All freshman applicants are considered within a competitive admissions process. The primary criteria for admission are the completion of the applicant’s high school preparation program, performance in that program as indicated by class rank and/or grade point average, and performance on the ACT.

How to Major in Wildlife and Fisheries Science – Wildlife Health Concentration

A wildlife and fisheries science faculty member is assigned to assist students in program planning and is available for academic advising.

Requirements for Wildlife and Fisheries Science – Wildlife Health Concentration

The wildlife health curriculum requires students to take the general science coursework required for application to veterinary school, together with wildlife-specific courses to broaden their understanding of population biology and natural resource management.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

The WFS internship program is designed to give students practical, hands-on wildlife and/or fisheries health experience working with a state, federal, or private organization. Internships help students identify career goals, provide them with valuable job experience, and facilitate the development of professional contacts for veterinary school or graduate school following graduation.

The Wildlife and Fisheries Science internship program allows students who have completed their junior year to receive up to six hours of credit for approved internship experiences.  Students must submit an approved work plan, weekly, mid-term, and final reports, and make a presentation to classmates on their project. Students identify internships with the assistance of faculty or through personal contacts and job searches.

Highlights of Wildlife and Fisheries Science – Wildlife Health Concentration

Core wildlife health courses are typically team-taught by faculty from several disciplines, and have small class sizes that facilitate interaction with fellow students and faculty.  The Student Chapter of the Wildlife and Fisheries Society is a very active student group that promotes leadership and experience in natural resource management.  The student chapter of The Wildlife Disease Association, which is a recent addition to the program, promotes leadership and experience in wildlife health through the interaction of wildlife health undergraduate students, wildlife health graduate students and veterinary students. The Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries is home to a multidisciplinary Center for Wildlife Health, and is located immediately adjacent to the College of Veterinary Medicine.  Both the Center and the College offer frequent seminars on wildlife health topics presented by faculty or visiting speakers, and students in the wildlife health concentration are encouraged to attend.  Both the Center and the College have active research programs on wildlife health topics, which provide opportunities for undergraduate volunteers and in some cases for undergraduate honors scholarships and summer internships.

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Sample Curriculum

Freshman Year Credit Hours
Conservation 3
Current Topics in Wildlife Health 1
English Composition Sequence 6
Chemistry Sequence 8
Biology Sequence 8
Calculus 3
Statistics 3
Critical Courses: English 101-102, Biology 130-140  
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Genetics 4
Organic Chemistry Sequence 8
Physics Sequence 8
Anatomy & Physiology of Farm Animals 3
Microbiology 5
General Ecology 4
Critical Courses: ANSC 240, Biology 240, 250, 310  
Junior Year Credit Hours
Ecology/Mgmt of Wildlife Health 3
Economics 4
Biochemistry 4
Speech Communications 3
General Physiology 3
Principles Wildlife/Fisheries Mgmt 3
Animal Health Management 3
Cultures and Civilizations Elective 3
Arts and Humanities Elective 3
Critical Courses: FWF 317,  Math 125  
Senior Year Credit Hours
Ecology/Mgmt of Wild Mammals 3
Advanced Cellular Biology 3
Wildlife Management Elective 3
Wildife Physiology and Nutrition 3
Geographic Information Systems 3
Cultures and Civilizations Elective 3
Arts and Humanities Elective 3
Natural Resource Social Science Elective 3
Science Elective 3

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.