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. Schools offering Animal Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Are 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.
For advanced training, you can choose a Master of Arts or Master of Science 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.
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.
To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below: