Why Animal Welfare & Behavior?
One of the most remarkable aspects of Homo sapiens as a species is how extensively we have coaxed, co-opted or coerced other animal species on the planet to serve our needs. Since man first domesticated animals over 10,000 years ago, we have benefited from animals providing us protection, transport, power, food, clothing, entertainment and companionship.
However, animal use raises questions about what we owe these animals in return for our benefits. Societal views about how man interacts with animals continue to evolve, continue to be debated and will reflect temporal, socio-economic or cultural perspectives. Animal welfare is the academic discipline that addresses both philosophical and scientific aspects of societal concerns about animal. Animal behavior is complex and intriguing, but also useful tool for understanding and improving animal welfare.
Why Penn Vet?
While the overarching subject of animal welfare embraces both the humanities and the sciences, training programs that focus on the science of animal welfare are relatively less common.
Coming from a veterinary school perhaps then it is not surprising that our program is both animal-centric and focuses animal welfare science. The program has been developed around faculty having expertise in both the physical and psychological health of animals as well as the naturalness of their lives and promise a unique educational experience. We believe that a profound understanding of the animal in animal welfare will benefit anyone interested in improving the quality of lives of animals.
Our target audience is working professionals and others seeking positions that impact the care and welfare of animals.
A growing number of national and international stakeholders, including companies, NGO’s and academia are all seeking individual with expertise and a top quality education in animal welfare and behavior.
Our online research Master's degree program brings together renowned experts in animal welfare, animal behavior and veterinary medicine with students, animal enthusiasts and working professionals employed by veterinary practice, animal shelters, research labs, pharmaceutical companies, NGOs, agriculture, and food production.
About the MSc Program
The Master of Science in Animal Welfare and Behavior is designed as an online program with an option for on-site research. It can be completed as a full-time program in a two-year period or as a part-time program over a longer period. Please see below for details of the curriculum.
All students enrolled in the MSc in Animal Welfare & Behavior complete core requirements. In addition, all MSc students are required to complete a capstone project, which must involve the generation of independent and original intellectual content.
We offer two curricular options, which are related to the type of capstone research project you choose.
- Option I: Requires original research and data collection in the field or laboratory.
- Option II: Requires original analysis of current literature.
In each case, students choose or are able to customize a track:
- One Welfare - Generalist track
- American College of Animal Welfare track - For veterinarians preparing to meet requirements for American College of Animal Welfare
Available Elective Courses and Electives in Development:
- Regulations and Animal Welfare
- Evolution of Animal Welfare
- Contemporary Issues in Animal Welfare
- Applied Small Animal Behavior: Dog and Cat
- Role of the Veterinarian and Veterinary Profession in Animal Welfare
- Emergency Preparedness and Response: A One Welfare Perspective
- Animal Welfare in the Shelter and Community
Tracks in Development:
- Species Specific tracks
- Farm Animal Welfare
- Shelter Animal Welfare
- Companion Animal Welfare
- Our ideal applicants are working professionals in vocations focused on animal health and welfare who will benefit from a graduate program they can pursue while working full time.
- This group includes but is not limited to veterinarians interested in sitting for the Boards in the American College in Animal Welfare.
- We also welcome college graduates interested in pursuing a career in animal health or policy, as well as veterinary students who would like to deepen their knowledge of animal welfare and behavior.
- A bachelor’s degree that includes one college level biology course is required. An advanced background in biology or animal science will be preferred.
- Completed application form the following:
- Academic transcript detailing performance in courses leading to the last academic degree the student received
- Current résumé
- Two letters of recommendation that address your qualifications for this program, your potential for research or similar novel scholarly activities, and your commitment to/interest in animal welfare or behavior.
- Personal statement that describes your motivation for participating in our research Master’s program as well as how you envision this program advancing your professional goals and aspirations.
- Essay: Please choose ONE of the following:
Twinky was a purebred Lavender Point Siamese spayed female house cat and lived her life in a single cat household with her owner. She was declawed, fed twice a day by her owner, and spent her days playing with toys and watching birds through the windows of the 10th story apartment in which she lived. At age 10, Twinky was diagnosed with severe dental disease and had most of her teeth removed and could only eat soft canned cat food after that. At age 12, she developed renal disease and lived the rest of her life having her owner manage her chronic illness until she passed at 15 years of age.
Billy was a crossbred domestic short hair intact male barn cat and lived with a group of six other cats at a dairy farm. He spent his days hunting for mice and birds as well as playing and, at times, fighting with the other cats on the farm. Billy survived on what he hunted and some of the discarded milk from the dairy. He walked with a limp, the result an untreated bite wound, was affected by parasitism most of his life, and was killed at 4 years of age when he was hit by a car as he crossed the road in front of the farm headed to hunt small rodents in the neighboring field.
Please consider both cats’ life scenarios. In up to 500 words, formulate and articulate an argument as to which cat led a better life.
Below are the daily time budgets from steers raised either on pasture or in pens that describes how they allocate their time each day to different behaviors. Please compare and contrast the data presented and formulate and articulate an argument in 500 words or less as to which steers lead a better life.
- Interview: Candidates may be invited to interview with the the Admissions Committee.
- Non-refundable application fee of $50.
Our commitment to diversity: We are committed to identifying, recruiting and training a diverse population of students, including both students from underrepresented populations as well as students who will serve in under-resourced rural and urban areas. The success of our program, in fact, depends on our ability to attract such a diverse group.