Herpetology Colleges and Degree Programs
Herpetology is the study of reptiles and amphibians. This field is typically studied as a specialization within a biology, zoology or ecology program. Continue reading for information on degree programs, suggestions on selecting a school and career prospects.
What You Need to Know
For those who have warmed-up to the cold-blooded creatures of the earth, many options exist to learn more about our scaly friends, even though a pure herpetological degree might be hard to uncover.
|Programs||Few exclusively focused on herpetology; bachelor's or master's in a related field|
|Courses||Biology, herpetology, zoology, wildlife conservation or ecology, animal behavior|
|Future Career Options||Research assistant, private conservation group or governmental agency technician, author, documentary filmmaker, animal breeder, teacher or professor, museum curator|
Are Undergraduate Degree Programs in Herpetology Available?
There are few degree programs in herpetology, so you'll likely need to choose a program in biology, zoology, wildlife conservation or wildlife ecology. If you choose an undergraduate major in biology or zoology, you'll have the option of a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) program. You might consider a B.A. program if you're interested in working with conservation groups or government agencies, such as the National Wildlife Health Center or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If you'd like to become a veterinarian, professional scientist, researcher, medical technologist, biology professor or secondary school teacher, you might consider a B.S. program.
Schools offering these undergraduate programs include:
- Michigan State University
- University of New Hampshire
- University of Alaska Fairbanks
- University of Wisconsin
- University of Nevada, Reno
- University of North Carolina Wilmington
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
Can I Pursue an Advanced Degree?
For advanced training, you can choose a Master of Arts or Master of Science program in biology, ecology or zoology. These programs may offer you the flexibility to pursue your own research, which can focus on herpetology. If you choose a Doctor of Philosophy program in wildlife conservation or ecology, your research is likely to focus on the interactions between humans, herps and the environment. At the graduate level, your studies will be shaped by your research interests and by the facilities, field experiences and faculty mentors available to you.
You can explore graduate level options in these areas at the following schools, among others:
- University of South Florida
- East Carolina University
- Boston University
- Oklahoma State University
- Colorado State University
- Emporia State University
How Can I Choose a School?
Since so few schools offer degrees specifically in herpetology, you might want to look for those that offer herpetology courses within biology, zoology or environmental studies/ecology/conservation programs. If you pick a biology program, you might choose one with a strong emphasis on organismic biology. You also can look for schools with herpetologists on the faculty, schools associated with local herpetology societies (on- or off-campus) or schools where herpetology research is being conducted. To find graduate schools conducting herpetology research, you might read about current research in any of the major scholarly herpetological journals.
What Careers Will This Prepare Me For?
With a bachelor's degree, you could work as a research assistant or as a technician for a governmental agency or private conservation group. You could earn a living writing books and articles about herps, making nature documentaries about them or photographing them in the wild. Some zookeepers who work with herps hold a bachelor's degree, though others are required to have a master's degree. A few herpetologists also work as animal breeders or collect and sell snake venom.
You might earn a professional degree such as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and work as a vet specializing in herps. With a master's degree, you could teach high school biology, work at a museum as a collection specialist or work at a university as a laboratory assistant. With a doctoral degree in biology or zoology you could become a college professor. Alternatively, you might work at a university as a researcher or at a museum as a curator.