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 United States 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.The certificate is open only to degree-seeking undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Colorado. 

For more information, or to apply to the certificate in Animals and Society, contact Professor Leslie Irvine at leslie.irvine@colorado.edu


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 semester 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.

1. 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.

2. Electives: Students must take two classes from the list of those offered in the College of Arts and Sciences that provide essential perspectives on human-animal interactions and relationships.

3. Internship: In either the second semester of the junior year or the senior year, students must take a semester-long, three-credit internship. The internships allow students to apply knowledge gained in courses to practical experience. The required internship is not applicable to the Sociology major or minor.

Required for certificate:

  • SOCY 4017 (3) Animals and Society

Plus two of the following (courses not taken to fulfill Core requirements may be taken as electives):

  • ANTH 3010 (3) The Human Animal
  • PHIL 4120 (3) Philosophy and Animals
  • FREN 4700 (3) Encountering Animals: Contemporary Discourse and the Dialog of Species
  • ENVS 4100 (3) Special Topics in Environmental Studies (Dogs, Wolves and Human Evolution) 2
    • or ENVS 4135
  • ENVS 3007 (3) Animal Ethics and Policy

Electives (6 credits required; labs may result in 7 credits) Note: no more than 3 courses (or 9 credits), not including the internship, may be taken in one department.

  • ANTH 3000 (3) Primate Behavior
  • ANTH 4110 (3) Human Evolutionary Biology
  • EBIO 2040 (4) Principles of Ecology
  • EBIO 3040 (4) Conservation Biology
  • EBIO 3240 (4) Animal Behavior
  • HIST 4117 (3) Colorado History
  • HIST 4326 (3) Health and Disease in United States History
  • MCDB-1030 (3) Introduction to Molecular Biology
  • MCDB-1041 (3) Fundamentals of Human Genetics
  • SOCY 4117 (3) Food and Society

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 three credits, this means 90 hours on site (i.e., 6 hrs/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.