Aurora University

Human-Animal Studies (BS)

Why major in Human-Animal Studies?

Human-Animal Studies is an interdisciplinary field that explores the interaction of animals within human culture, history, and society. The Human-Animal Studies major prepares you with the academic foundation and hands-on skills needed to enter a variety of expanding animal-related fields, including animal control, shelter or rescue management, zoo keeping, forensic investigations, or animal-assisted therapy. It will equip you with the skills employers value most: communicating your ideas, analyzing a problem, and working with others to find a solution.

Why major in Human-Animal Studies at AU?

Aurora University is one of the few universities in the nation that offers a Bachelor of Science in Human-Animal Studies degree. Our program begins with coursework that examines animal care, the science behind animal-assisted therapy, and the human role as caretakers to animals and the environment. You will also be introduced to the foundational principles of both statistics and psychology. After completing the core courses for the major, you will choose one of two tracks: Animal Assisted Therapy or Welfare and Bonding.

Animal Assisted Therapy track: You will take courses in areas such as therapeutic recreation and special education, psychology, and animal-assisted therapy. You will also complete an internship at an agency utilizing animal-assisted therapy interventions.

Welfare and Bonding track: You will take courses in animals in public policy, forensic investigations involving animals, and study the behavior, training, and rehabilitation of animals. You will also complete an internship in your specific area of interest.

Thanks to a flexible curriculum, you can also expand your career opportunities with a double major in Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Parks and Recreation Leadership, Social Work, or Therapeutic Recreation, among many others. Even with a second major, you’ll still be able to graduate in four years.

AU has a strong track record of success in preparing students to gain acceptance to veterinary school. If you are interested in a career as a veterinarian, you can follow the pre-vet track at AU. Your professors will work closely with you to make sure you take the courses you need to succeed.

The Human-Animal Studies major not only helped me to get a job that I love as a program director at a therapeutic horse farm, but it turned the struggles I faced in school into an eagerness to achieve my goals. Jamie Stolp ‘20

animal care and service workers in the U.S. in 2020


2020-2030 projected job growth rate

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Clearly, animals know more than we think, and think a great deal more than we know. Animal research scientist Irene M. Pepperberg
Curriculum Highlights
  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Animal disease prevention
  • Animal science
  • Animal welfare
  • Forensic investigations involving animals
  • Training and rehabilitation of animals
Campus Opportunities
  • Aurora Criminal Justice Association
  • Aurora University Students’ Association
  • Social Work Association
  • Unleashed Human-Animal Studies Club
The Human-Animal Studies program helped me solidify that my passion lies in working with animals. Through my internship at Phillips Park Zoo, I was able to make connections that will help me further my future career. Kara McCleary ’20
Experiential learning

Experiential learning

Animals and the deep bonds they have with humans are at the center of the program. You will experience hands-on learning with an internship in your field of study. The internship opportunities will prepare you for graduate study or for a career in animal-assisted therapy, animal control, shelter or rescue management, and more. A team of students participates in the national Animal Welfare Assessment Contest each year.

Career possibilities

  • Animal-assisted therapist
  • Animal behaviorist
  • Animal control warden
  • Animal photographer
  • Animal rehabilitation specialist
  • Animal trainer
  • Animal welfare inspector
  • Humane education
  • K-9 police officer
  • Lab animal technician
  • Naturalist
  • Shelter manager
  • Veterinarian
  • Veterinary assistant
  • Wildlife rehabilitator

Where our graduates work and intern

  • Anderson Animal Shelter
  • Az Acres Riding
  • Brookfield Zoo
  • Chicago Equine Medical Center
  • Cosley Park Zoo
  • DuPage County Animal Services
  • Field of Dreams Horse Rescue and Adoption
  • Fox Chase Farms
  • Fox Valley Wildlife Center
  • Horse Works Wyoming
  • HorsePower Therapeutic Riding
  • It’s a Pittie Rescue
  • Kane County Animal Control
  • Mainstay Therapeutic Farm
  • Naperville Humane Society
  • Phillips Park Zoo
  • Reef Plus
  • Strides in Motion
  • Variety of area vet practices
  • Wag ‘N Paddle
  • Willowbrook Wildlife Center