best graduate schools for ornithology

Last Updated on September 5, 2022 by Smile Ese

If you are planning to get an MSc or PhD on Ornithology, you should find out which schools boast the best graduate programs in your field. Before starting your research on this topic, though, you might want to know what Ornithology is. So if you’re looking for the best graduate schools for this field, check out our list with all the answers!

Collegelearners affords a plethora of information on colleges for ornithology, best ornithology schools in the world, careers in ornithology and so much more. Ensure you peruse through our catalogue for relevant information on similar topics.

best graduate schools for ornithology

Scientists who focus on the field of ornithology might monitor endangered birds, study migration patterns, work to understand bird-based illnesses, or consider the effects of climate change on bird mating behaviors. Those who wish to purse this field as a profession may consider earning a master’s degree or a PhD. Typically, the degree pursued will be in the area of biology; however students could also consider graduate degrees in zoology, evolutionary biology, or wildlife biology.

Potential Graduate Programs

Those who wish to study ornithology will undertake graduate-level education in biology, at a program with a specialization in ornithology or where a student can identify faculty members pursuing significant research into this field. Students can pursue graduate study at the master’s or PhD level.

Master’s in Biology

One potential graduate degree to consider is a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) in biology. A master’s degree program typically requires 30-36 credit hours of graduate study. Students typically complete a thesis demonstrating independent research; however some programs may have an option to complete oral examinations showing a breadth of knowledge in the subject area.

Ph.D. in Biology

Students who wish to study ornithology at the highest level to prepare for a career as a teacher or scientific researcher may consider earning the Ph.D. in Biology or Evolutionary Biology. Program requirements will typically include the completion of coursework, comprehensive oral examinations, and a dissertation. Supervised teaching or curatorial work will be an important component of the program. Reading knowledge of a foreign language may be required.

Graduate Courses

At the master’s or Ph.D. level, students will have the opportunity to pursue advanced coursework in ornithology. Some examples of courses may include:

Scientific Integrity in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

This course will cover the ethical requirements for conducting scientific research. Students will learn about the best practices on how to manage their data and publish responsibly. The requirements for financial grants, including those from the federal government, will be reviewed.

Avian Conservation and Management

Students will be introduced to the identification and classification of both upland and migratory birds. Students will also learn about the life history strategies and ecology of the birds. Lastly, they can also have an opportunity to gain knowledge on how to manage various species of birds.

Biodiversity in Managed Forests

Students will learn how forests are managed in order to protect a range of natural species. They may discuss forest stands, diverse landscapes, and regions within the forest. They will learn how habitat conditions affect various wildlife within the forest.

Behavioral Ecology

Students in this course will focus upon animal behavior and how it affects the ecology of that organism. Topics may include mating behaviors, foraging, or territoriality. The way behavior affects species survival will be an important consideration.

Raptor Ecology

Birds of prey will be the focus of this course. Students may study the birds’ reproductive strategies, foraging techniques, and predator/prey interactions. Field study may be a component of this course.

Biometry

Students taking this course will understand the application of statistical methods to biological research. An introduction to computational procedures will be an important component of the course. Some of the specific topics which students may encounter include t-tests, regression theories, and other statistical techniques.

Admission Requirements

Admissions to graduate programs at either the Master’s or Ph.D. level is competitive. Applicants are expected to possess a bachelor’s degree. Undergraduate coursework should reflect a range of experience in the natural sciences and mathematics, including biology, calculus, physics, and ecology. A minimum of a 3.0 GPA is typically expected. GRE results must also be provided. In addition, programs will consider faculty recommendations, undergraduate research experience or publication, clarity of writing, and whether a faculty sponsor will be able to assist with the student’s research interests.

Graduate study at the master’s or PhD level can be an entryway into the field of ornithology. Specific classes may vary per program, but students can expect to take some common courses such as those pertaining to ecology and the management of birds.

Popular Schools


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1Utah State UniversityUtah State University logo
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School locations:
Utah (1 campus)
Program Info

Areas of study you may find at Utah State University include:
Graduate: Doctorate, Master
Non-Degree: Coursework
Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
General Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Zoology
Wildlife Biology
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2Frostburg State University
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School locations:
Maryland (1 campus)
Program Info

Areas of study you may find at Frostburg State University include:
Graduate: Doctorate, Master
Non-Degree: Coursework, Diploma
Undergraduate: Bachelor
Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Botany
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
General Biology
Zoology
Wildlife Biology
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3Stanford UniversityStanford University logo
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School locations:
California (1 campus)
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Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
Undergraduate: Bachelor
Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Cellular Biology and Anatomical Sciences
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
General Biology
Genetics
Microbiology and Immunology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Physiology and Related Sciences
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4Harvard UniversityHarvard University logo
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School locations:
Massachusetts (1 campus)
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Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Bioinformatics
Cellular Biology and Anatomical Sciences
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
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Genetics
Microbiology and Immunology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics
Physiology and Related Sciences
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5University of PennsylvaniaUniversity of Pennsylvania logo
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School locations:
Pennsylvania (1 campus)
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Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master’s Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Bioinformatics
Cellular Biology and Anatomical Sciences
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
General Biology
Microbiology and Immunology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Physiology and Related Sciences
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6Duke UniversityDuke University logo
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School locations:
North Carolina (1 campus)
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Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
Undergraduate: Bachelor
Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Botany
Cellular Biology and Anatomical Sciences
General Biology
Genetics
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics
Zoology
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7University of Notre DameUniversity of Notre Dame logo
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School locations:
Indiana (1 campus)
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Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
Undergraduate: Bachelor
Biological and Biomedical Sciences
General Biology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics
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8Vanderbilt UniversityVanderbilt University logo
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School locations:
Tennessee (1 campus)
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Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
Undergraduate: Bachelor
Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Bioinformatics
Cellular Biology and Anatomical Sciences
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
General Biology
Genetics
Microbiology and Immunology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Physiology and Related Sciences
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9University of FloridaUniversity of Florida logo
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School locations:
Florida (1 campus)
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Areas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
Post Degree Certificate: Post Master’s Certificate
Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Botany
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Microbiology and Immunology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics
Zoology
Entomology
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10Cornell UniversityCornell University logo
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School locations:
New York (1 campus)
Program Info

Areas of study you may find at Cornell University include:
Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
Non-Degree: Coursework
Undergraduate: Bachelor
Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Bioinformatics
Botany
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
General Biology
Genetics
Microbiology and Immunology
Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Biophysics
Pharmacology and Toxicology
Physiology and Related Sciences
Zoology
Animal Physiology
Entomology

careers in ornithology

An ornithologist studies birds, but there is no clear job description for the profession of ornithology. Many ornithologists do not work exclusively with birds. They may be ecologists, geneticists, wildlife biologists, land managers, teachers, researchers, outdoor educators, or tour leaders. They may work for federal or state government agencies, non-profit organizations, for-profit companies, or free-lance. They may work exclusively with birds or only as a small part of their job. Ornithologists may work in the field with populations of wild birds, in the laboratory , or on data on their computer. They may specialize in a particular bird group or be a generalist.

What is Ornithology?

A fledgling ornithologist needs to take basic courses in science and math in college because understanding any group of organisms requires a background knowledge of anatomy, physiology, ecology, evolution, genetics, cell and tissue structure, and population biology. At least one and preferably two years of chemistry should be taken. Mathematics, at least through analytic geometry and preferably a year of calculus, is very helpful, as is statistics. Writing and English courses are very helpful. Appropriate college majors are biology, wildlife biology, zoology, or some equivalent. The goal should be to get a well-rounded education in the sciences.  In high school, take as many science, math, and writing/English courses as possible.

If you are searching for a college with the appropriate degrees and courses or one which offers one or more ornithology courses (most four-year colleges do), check with your high school counselor or use a search engine on the WWW to find colleges in your area; then check their websites. I am not aware of any university or college that offers a degree in Ornithology. ( Sturt University in Australia offers a postgraduate diploma or certificate in the field.) There are a few courses of study in the field, but no online degree courses that I am aware of.

Sometimes a Master’s degree is required. The difference between a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science degree is that, in addition to graduate level course work, the student does a research project and presents the project verbally and in writing to a committee of professors. This experience allows the student to get advanced training in the field of ornithology that cannot be had by coursework .

best ornithology schools in the world

The Centre for World University Rankings (CWUR) on Monday, 3 April 2017, released their inaugural subject rankings which placed the University of Cape Town (UCT) third in Ornithology out of over 26 000 higher education institutions. Overall, UCT was ranked 166th among the participating global institutions.

For Ornithology (the study of birds), UCT was ranked third globally, along with Lund University in Sweden, which received the same ranking score as UCT (90.22). University of Groningen in the Netherlands and Cornell University in the USA were ranked first and second, respectively.

These rankings highlight the world’s elite universities in the sciences and social sciences, based on the number of research articles in top-tier international journals. For more information visit the CWUR website.

Prof. Mamokgethi Phakeng, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Internationalisation, says: “UCT is very proud that our scholarship in this field has been internationally recognised. Having universities that rank globally (including other South African universities) benefits the country as a whole. It sends a message that the country’s higher-education system is globally competitive”.­­­­

“The high ranking in this field demonstrates that African researchers can take the lead in helping to solve African problems, and also that they are bringing a strong African voice to global debates.”

Prof. Peter Ryan, director of the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology (Fitztitute), says: “This is great recognition of the contribution that researchers at UCT make towards ornithological studies. The fact that UCT is so prominent in ornithological research provides further validation of the success of the National Research Foundation (NRF) Centre of Excellence funding model.”

Prof. Phakeng adds: “As a university, we are grateful to the NRF for the funding that we’ve received to enable much of the work that has happened in this area, putting South Africa and the continent on the map. It is investments such as these that will help to make the issue of African biodiversity visible globally. ”

In addition to the Fitztitute, the Animal Demography Unit (ADU) and the Centre for Statistics in Ecology, the Environment and Conservation (SEEC) have strong interests in bird-related research, giving UCT a critical mass of ornithological researchers and research expertise unmatched in the southern hemisphere.

Prof. Ryan says: “Southern Africa has a wealth of bird life, making it an excellent place to study bird biology. Our birds also face numerous threats, so much of our research is aimed at conserving birds and their habitats for future generations. We work closely with BirdLife South Africa, a leading environmental non-governmental organisation.”

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