The animals and society certificate builds on a rapidly growing interdisciplinary field devoted to the critical examination and evaluation of the relationships between humans and nonhuman animals, whether historical or contemporary, factual, fictional or symbolic, beneficial or detrimental. The program requirements emphasize scholarship from the social sciences and humanities, but include elective options in the natural sciences. The interdisciplinary approach helps students explore the complexities of animals' lives, human-animal relationships, ethical and moral concerns about animals, representations of animals and humans, and the significance of animals in human evolution, history and civilization.

This certificate has an especially practical use for students in the social sciences and humanities who would like to pursue careers or interests related to wild or domesticated animals, but do not wish to become biologists, zoologists or veterinarians. Examples of career options include:

  • development, management, policy work, research, outreach, marketing, lobbying or other work in animal protection or environmental organizations;
  • administrative, fundraising, marketing or outreach jobs at animal shelters;
  • humane or environmental education;
  • jobs with government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Fisheries and Wildlife Service or others;
  • animal-assisted therapy (with a master's degree in social work);
  • wildlife rehabilitation;
  • humane law enforcement.

Students might also consider pursuing graduate degrees in human–animal studies, anthrozoology or related fields.

For more information or to apply to the certificate in animals and society, contact Professor Leslie Irvine.


The animals and society certificate requires 18 credits through three main areas. Students must complete 9 of the 18 credit hours at the upper-division level; a minimum of 12 credit hours must be taken on campus. If applicable, a maximum of 6 transfer credit hours from other institutions will be accepted. No more than 3 courses (or 9 credits), not including the internship, may be taken in one department.

  • Core Courses: Students must take Animals and Society (SOCY 4017) and two of the classes listed, all of which examine the research in relevant areas of human–animal studies. Courses not taken to fulfill the core requirement may be taken as electives.
  • Electives: Students must take either two or three classes (depending on whether they will complete an internship) from the list of those offered in the College of Arts and Sciences that provide essential perspectives on human–animal interactions and relationships.
  • Internship (or third elective course): In either the second semester of the junior year or the senior year, students may opt to take a semester-long, 3-credit internship. Alternatively, students may enroll in an additional 3-credit course. The internships allow students to apply knowledge gained in courses to practical experience. The internship is not applicable to the sociology major or minor.

Required Courses and Credits

Core Courses
SOCY 4017Animals and Society3
Select two of the following: 16
The Human Animal
Philosophy and Animals
Encountering Animals: Contemporary Discourse and the Dialog of Species
Special Topics in Environmental Studies (Dogs, Wolves and Human Evolution) 2
Dogs, Wolves, and Humans
Animal Ethics and Policy
Electives 36
Select at least 6 credits of elective course work; labs may result in 7 credits.
Primate Behavior
Human Evolutionary Biology
Principles of Ecology
Conservation Biology
Animal Behavior
Colorado History
Epidemic Disease in US History
Environmental History of North America
Introduction to Molecular Biology
Fundamentals of Human Genetics
Food and Society
Total Credit Hours18


Students can choose from the several animal welfare-related Boulder County internship sites. Students can also locate their own internship sites, with the director's approval. Students taking internships must work a minimum of 40 hours for each hour of academic credit. For 3 credits, this means 90 hours on site (i.e., 6 hours per week), 10 hours of classroom time and 20 hours of reading and writing assignments.

In collaboration with the program director and site supervisors, students will outline tasks and responsibilities that support their learning goals. Consequently, students who achieve their learning goals acquire experience and a set of transferable skills that prepare them for professional positions or further academic study.