Wildlife and Fisheries Science Major

Take your career into the wild.

Hard science and hands on, this is in-the-field study of fish, wildlife, and their ecosystems. Grads work for state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, or continue on to advanced degrees.

Biology, bug spray, and backpacks.

Your Wildlife and Fisheries Science education starts with the classic classroom science challenges—biology, chemistry, and physics. But don’t get too comfortable at your desk. We roll up our sleeves, get our feet wet, break a sweat, and take our curiosity to forests, fields, rivers, and lakes that fish and wild animals call home. A good pair of boots are essential scientific instruments in this major. The Pennsylvania wilds are our laboratory.

Wildlife and Fisheries Science is the right major if you’re:  

  • fascinated by wildlife
  • passionate about the conservation of our precious natural resources
  • a solid science student
  • best at learning hands on
  • outdoorsy and love doing something different everyday

One major. Two Options. Infinite destinations.

Wildlife option

This path focuses on the science relevant to understanding and managing wild mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

Example courses

  • Field Dendrology
  • Mammalogy
  • Ornithology
  • Wildlife Management

Fisheries option

This path focuses on the science relevant to understanding and managing fish and their natural habitats.

Example courses

  • Ecology of Fishes
  • Ichthyology
  • Vertebrate Laboratory
  • Wildlife and Fisheries Population Dynamics

Ag Journeys

“College is the time to try new things.”

– Hunter Kauffman

Choose your own adventure.

The syllabus is just the beginning of your Wildlife and Fisheries Science experience. There are faculty-guided clubs, internships, externships, or hands-on research opportunities for every kind of academic interest, and every kind of fun.

¿Cómo se dice trout? Study abroad opportunities abound for those who want to push borders of every kind.

Craft your experience.

Related clubs and teams

  • Fly Fishing Club
  • Penn State Woodsmen Team
  • Penn State Spur Collectors
  • Society of American Foresters
  • The Wildlife Society
  • See all clubs and teams

Recent internships  

  • Animal care intern
  • Bat technician
  • Biologist aide
  • Field research assistant
  • Field traineeship
  • GIS intern  
  • Seasonal fisheries biologist aide
  • Tour guide

Popular study abroad

  • Christchurch: Lincoln University
  • Costa Rica Tropical Field Ecology
  • School for Field Studies, Tanzania
  • South Africa: Parks and People

A college experience you’ll love—in a field where you can make a difference.

Penn State Wildlife and Fisheries Science grads are all over the world protecting wild animals and the ecosystems where they live.

Our alumni out in the world

  • Aquariums
  • Environmental education centers
  • Conservation districts
  • Wildlife management agencies
  • Fish hatcheries
  • State and national parks
  • Graduate and professional schools
  • Universities
  • Zoos

Wildlife and Fisheries Science Career Options

What can I do with a Wildlife and Fisheries Science degree? Here are just a few career examples:

Wildlife/fisheries biologist

A wildlife/fisheries biologist studies aquatic and land animals, their environments, and human impacts on their ecosystems.

What will I do?

  • Conduct census projects, research studies, and complex data analyses of wild animals
  • Study diseases that affect animals and their transmission
  • Trap, tag, or relocate animals and fish for conservation purposes
  • Publish findings in academic and scientific journals
  • Collaborate with game wardens and law enforcement personnel

Game warden/conservation officer

A game warden/conservation officer enforces hunting and fishing laws and regulations.

What will I do?

  • Serve as a law enforcement officer—investigate criminal behavior, gather evidence, make arrests, and testify in court
  • Teach fishing and hunter education and firearms safety
  • Observe wildlife and their environment, and collaborate with agency biologists

Fishery manager

A fishery manager directs and oversees fish farm and fish hatchery activities, where aquatic life is cultivated, cared for, studied, and then released into their natural habitat or harvested for food.

What will I do?

  • Train and supervise fishery staff
  • Prepare and distribute food and medications
  • Monitor fish health and growth
  • Maintain equipment and monitor water quality
  • Coordinate with research/conservation organizations

Environmental education specialist

An environmental education specialist teaches wildlife/fisheries biology and conservation.

What will I do?

  • Lead field trips and classroom programs
  • Facilitate teacher workshops
  • Create educational materials for use in presentations, including posters, banners, and workbooks