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Zoo, Aquarium, and Animal Shelter Management P.S.M.

Online education provides flexibility for working professionals
Gain practical, hands-on learning with people and animals
Applied coursework directly relates to the workplace
Get professional development and networking opportunities
Degree Overview Open Accordion

How will this program prepare you?

Developed in cooperation with leaders of professional animal organizations that represent the leading edge of animal welfare and conservation, CSU’s online Professional Science Master's (P.S.M.) program with a specialization in Zoo, Aquarium, and Animal Shelter Management prepares students to:

  • Lead nonprofit organizations focused on the welfare of animals in human-managed care
  • Communicate strategically with a variety of stakeholders
  • Market and fundraise effectively
  • Successfully manage people, processes, and operations
  • Work independently and collaboratively to pursue answers, challenge assumptions, and exercise ethical responsibility within the field

Gain the skills to become a well-rounded, strategic leader

Start building the advanced knowledge to guide the long-term success of zoos, aquariums, animal shelters, and similar organizations by studying the science of animal behavior; physiology, reproduction, and nutrition; fundamentals of leadership, management, and nonprofit business operations; and more.

After successful completion of this program, you will have the knowledge to:

  • Strategically lead a nonprofit organization with multiple revenue streams
  • Manage productive teams of full-time, part-time, and volunteer staff
  • Understand and apply modern best practices in animal welfare
  • Communicate organizational goals and mission/values to the media and general public
  • Leverage networking and collaboration to achieve positive long-term outcomes

A track record of success

  • CSU's on-campus P.S.M. program has a nearly 100% graduation rate.
  • Approximately 90% of CSU’s recent P.S.M. grads received job offers at or before graduation.


CSU's P.S.M. program is accredited by the National Professional Science Master’s Association (NPSMA).

What is a Professional Science Master’s?

Professional Science Master’s (P.S.M.) degrees are developed in partnership between a college or university and industry partners, often to meet growing industry demand for advanced training in an emerging or evolving field. In addition to a multi-disciplinary curriculum, these programs typically include applied, real-world learning components, such as a professional internship or capstone project.

Explore Careers Open Accordion

Graduates of this program will typically seek career advancement opportunities in zoo, aquarium, and shelter operations, nonprofit executive leadership positions, behavioral management positions, and more. Example job titles include:

  • Animal Shelter Manager or Director
  • Behavior and Enrichment Manager
  • Manger of Educational Outreach
  • Manager of Programs and/or Volunteers
  • Research Associate
  • Animal Care Supervisor
  • Bonobo Caretaker
  • Elephant Keeper
  • Seal Lion Keeper
  • Zoo Curator
  • Conservation Engagement Programs Manager
  • Manager of Humane Education
  • Guest Services Manager
Curriculum Open Accordion

Fall, Year One (8 cr.)

Spring, Year One (6 cr.)

Summer, Year One (1 cr.)

  • NSCI 688C – Capstone Master’s Project (1 cr.)**

**400 hours of project to be completed on site with your organization over the following 1.5 years

Fall, Year Two (6 cr.)

  • NSCI 611 – Leadership for Animal Professionals (3 cr.)
  • NSCI 631 – Marketing for Animal Professionals (3 cr.)
  • NSCI 693A – Seminar (1 cr.)
  • NSCI 688D – Project Continuation (1 cr.)

Spring, Year Two (7 - 8 cr.)

  • ANEQ 522 – Animal Metabolism*/ANEQ 322 or 323 (2 - 3 cr.)
  • NSCI 693A – Seminar (1 cr.)
  • NSCI 688D – Project Continuation (1 cr.)
  • Electives (3 cr.)

Summer, Year Two (1 cr.)

  • Electives

Fall, Year Three (7 cr.)

  • NRRT 463 – Non-Profit Administration (3 cr.)
  • NSCI 688D – Project Wrap Up (1 cr.)
  • Electives (3 cr.)

Spring, Year Three (5 - 6 cr.)

  • NSCI 688E – Project: Write up and Presentation (2 cr.)
  • Electives (3 - 4 cr.)

Program Total Credits: 41 - 43

How to Apply Open Accordion

Application Deadlines

Students may be admitted for the fall semester only.

Fall semester July 15

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time.

Apply Now

1 Review Admission Requirements

  • An undergraduate degree from an accredited, four-year institution
  • A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher from your most recent degree completed
  • GRE scores not required.*

*Although not required, the GRE can help distinguish a student likely to succeed in a graduate program.

Note that meeting the minimum department standards does not ensure admission to the program. Admission to Colorado State University graduate programs is based on a number of factors, including prior academic and professional experience and the personal statement.

2 Prepare Application Materials

Applicants will be required to submit the following information.

  • Resume or CV showing demonstrated interest in the field: Please detail prior employment, internships, and/or volunteering in the animal field to help show your commitment to this career path. Be thorough and complete when describing past experiences.
  • Statement of purpose: A well-written and creative statement of purpose can help the department identify students who are passionate and committed.
  • Three letters of recommendation: Strong letters of recommendation that help us get to know you as a student, future leader, and person will help us evaluate your likelihood to succeed in this program and the field of management. A strong letter will comment on:
    • Your character and professionalism
    • Your ability to succeed in rigorous coursework
    • Your ability to think critically
    • Your attitude and demeanor

Note: If you are selected as a candidate, the department may ask for an interview (either by phone or in person). The department is interested in students who can communicate their ideas with distinction and demonstrate a deep commitment to excellence.

3 Complete Online Application

Complete the online graduate application form and pay the nonrefundable application processing fee (payable online). As soon as you have completed the required information, please submit your application. Your application will not be reviewed until it is complete and all required materials have been received.

  • Select "Professional Science Master’s (P.S.M.) Zoo, Aquarium, and Animal Shelter Management – Distance" when choosing the program of study.

4 Request Transcripts

Request one official transcript of all collegiate work completed from all institutions attended. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official.

Please Note: Students may be unconditionally admitted and registered in their first semester of courses with an unofficial transcript. Official transcripts must be submitted, prior to or during your first semester, before you can register for your second semester of graduate work. Failure to meet this condition will result in your dismissal from the Graduate School.

Electronic (preferred):
Digital Transcripts must be submitted by the originating institution using a secure service such as parchment, eScrip-Safe, the National Student Clearinghouse, or e-Quals. Transcripts received via emails are considered unofficial.

Use institution code 4075 for Colorado State University or if the secure service requires an email address.

Mail (if necessary)
Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

Check Your Application Status

View your application status at any time to ensure your application checklist is complete or to check on updates.

Once your complete application, including supporting materials, is received, the department admission committee will review your application and notify you of their decision.

For International Applicants

Proof of English language proficiency is required for applicants from countries or United States territories where there are official languages other than (or in addition to) English. This includes the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about English language proficiency requirements.


We love learning about your goals and answering any questions you have.

Alex Broz
Prospective Student Support Coach
Schedule Time to Talk

Program Details

41 - 43
Same in-state tuition for all.
Learn more about financial aid and scholarships Tuition/fees are just part of the cost to attend CSU. Learn more about the full Cost of Attendance
Degree Awarded
Professional Science Master’s (P.S.M.); Specialization reflects Zoo, Aquarium, and Animal Shelter Management
Time Frame
Can be completed in 3 years

Application Dates

Fall semester
July 15

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