Melissa Kaplan's
Herp Care Collection
Last updated January 1, 2014


What it is, how to find universities, and a little more...

Compiled by Melissa Kaplan


Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it.
                   - Albert Einstein

Several times a year I receive email from students who tell me that they want to be a herpetologist like me and would like to know where to go to school to get this education. After I let them know I am not a herpetologist (I do not have a graduate degree in biology/zoology), I refer them to this page to find out about some of the universities that at one time, at least, had herpetologists on staff.

Since I compiled the information here in 1997 and moved my website to its new location, I have not done much in the way of updating the information on the schools or faculty, nor do I plan to actively research this information Since researching information is one of the skills a biologist/zoologist needs, I figure this is a good time to start for those interested in pursuing studies in this area. A section of this page does provide some suggestions on how to get started on this research. If someone does come up with more current information or additional schools and would like to see it added to this page, please do send it to me.


her·pe·tol·o·gy (hur´pi-tal e-jee)
The branch of zoology that deals with the study of reptiles and amphibians.

Many junior and high school students are interested in studying herpetology when they go to college. What most do not realize is that there are no degrees in herpetology. There are, however, biologists and zoologists who come to specialize in the study of reptiles and/or amphibians.


What Is a Herpetologist?
The Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles has an online article, "Herpetology As A Career." The SSAR is also developing a database of university herp programs. They also have an Interview with a Herpetologist that helps answer a lot of questions about what it's like to be a herpetologist and how to get there.

A Note From Scott Moody, Herpetologist, Ohio University in Athens, Athens OH
Remember that herpetologists are first anatomists, geneticists, ecologists, physiologists, biochemists, behaviorists, endocrinologists, etc. Traditionally, unfortunately, these fields have primarily used only a few animal models, for example, the house mouse or Norway rat.

The study of biology is increasingly moving into a diversity of animal models, taking a comparative/evolutionary, or integrative, point of view, hence a greater interest in herpetology. Also, the federal regulations for maintaining and caring for herps is not as costly and complex as for hairy mammals so many people change models. Animal holding facilities are now hiring people with a background in raising and breeding herps.

Traditionally, fish and wildlife (conservation or hunt/reel) departments, as well as national forest wildlife biologists, EPA aquatic biologists, etc., at the federal and state level have primarily involved themselves with game animals (birds, mammals, fish), but are increasingly hiring people with expertise in the so-called non-game areas such as herpetology. This corresponds with environmentalists and conservation-oriented biologists finding that amphibians and reptiles make much better ecological-indicator species, thus more survey and experimental studies are being conducted using herps.

These are the two areas of growth as I see it. But remember, the questions of science are much more important than the organisms by which the questions are answered. Get a thorough (breadth and depth) education in science.

Scott Moody describes himself as being a herpetologist, anatomist, paleontologist, biogeographer, systematist, philosopher and science education specialist.


Finding Herpetology Courses/Programs
Not all colleges or universities offer courses in herpetology. One of the prerequisites to such offering appears to be the presence on the faculty of biology or zoology professors who themselves have an abiding interest in the study of reptiles and/or amphibians and so develop some of their classes along those lines. Sometimes, the old ways still work best. Check out college and university guides, such as Peterson's Guide to Colleges and Universities. The other way is to find out where herpetologists are themselves teaching.


Finding Herpetologists
One way to find out which herpetologist is doing what kind of work and where they are is to head to your local university library and hit the stacks and look for the journals that typically publish articles related to herps. You may be able to access the library from home by going to the school's website and from there into their library, or use the resources available through your local public library's system to link into available library resources. Some resources are limited to access from the university's own library; you can check out what's available to the public by going and talking to the librarians there.

Once you are into the library systems, you can do subject and name searches, or more general search, such as "herpetology".

Herp-specific journals include Herpetologica, Herpetology Review, and Coepia. You will find more information on these journals at my Herp Literature: Journals page.

Herp-related articles also appear in journals like Physiological Zoology, Brain and Behavior, Journal of Nutrition, and other journals covering a wide range of subjects You can photocopy articles you find interesting. The most important bit of information for your purposes, however, is to note which biologists' work most interest you, then check the author information given in each article to find out where they are.

Another way to find people is to do searches on their names in a metasearch engine such as Google or Teoma.


School Listing
The following lists for the United States and Canada comes from a information originally compiled in 1994. Some of the people may have moved on, new professors hired, courses added or dropped, etc. Always confirm before sending off your applications! Since all colleges and universities now have websites, it has become easier to do a lot of the research online. For a complete listing of university and college sites, check directories such as Yahoo's Colleges & Universities.


United States

Bowling Green State University
Eileen M. Underwood, Biological Sciences, BGSU, Bowling Green, Ohio 43403, 419-372-2531
9/2006: Currently at BGSU there are multiple courses relating to herpetology. Undergraduate courses include: herpetoculture, reptile husbandry, amphibian husbandry, and readings (independent study) in herpetoculture. Beyond course work there is a sizeable herpetology lab run by Dr. Underwood that includes multiple genetics projects in snakes, geckos and lizards. The lab, which is staffed entirely by undergraduate and graduate volunteers, does hands-on research along with public demonstrations for schools and other organizations. (J. Shipman)

Colorado State University
Gary C. Packard, Dept of Biology, CSU, Ft Collins CO 80523, 303-491-5376
Courses: 1 undergrad, 0 grad, offered spring semester, alternate years
Master's degree and PhD available.
Undergrads can pursue research in herpetology as I.S. with the approval of a faculty sponsor/adviser. Students concentrating in herps generally have interests in the ecological physiology of amphib and/or reps. Herp Faculty: Gary C. Packard, C. Richard Tracy

Cornell University
Dr. Kraig Adler, Dept of Biology, 410 Thurston Ave, Cornell University, Ithaca NY 14850
1 grad, 1 undergrad (same course), alternate years.
PhD available.
Undergrads can pursue herp research with special arrangements with individual professors. Herp Faculty: Kraig Adler, Antonie Blackler, Howard Evans, George Kollias

Earlham College
Richmond IN
MA, PhD. Herp faculty includes: John Iverson

Eastern Kentucky University
Dr. Paul Cupp, Jr., Dept of Biology, EKU, Richmond KY 40475-3124
1 grad, 1 undergrad, alternate springs
MS in Biology; no concentration in herpetology as committee determines coursework
Undergrads can pursue herp research as a special problems course. Herp Faculty: Paul Cupp Jr.

Emporia State University
R. Brent Thomas, Interim Chair, Dept. of Biol. Sci, ESU, Emporia, KS
MS in Biology with a herp concentration.

Georgia State University
Atlanta, GA
Master's degree and PhD available.
Undergrads can pursue herp research with special arrangements with individual professors. Although the Univ offers no specific herp courses, herps are covered in the Animal Biology (BIOL3840), Animal Biology Lab (BIOL3850), and Zoo Biology (BIOL4104) courses offered through the Department of Biology. Herps may also be part of zoo internships (BIOL4911/4912) by special arrangement.
Herp Faculty include: Walt Wilczynski (Psychology)

Harvard University
Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Dept of Biol, Cambridge MA 02138
1 undergrad; 1 grad (annually)
PhD with concentration in herps
Undergrads can pursue herp research with permission of faculty. Herp faculty: John E. Cadle.

Indiana State University
Dept of Ecology & Organismal Biology
Terre Haute, IN 47809
1 undergrad/grad course in herpetology; Masters and PhD programs available. Undergrads and grads can pursue research in herps with a faculty mentor. Herp Faculty: Drs. MJ Angilletta, GS Bakken, and DK Hews

John Carroll University
Dept of Biology, University Heights OH 44118
M.S. Biology, no concentration in Herpetology but undergraduates and graduates students often pursue research in herpetology. Herpetology (BL421/521) offered at the senior undergrad and graduate level. Herpetology faculty: Carl Anthony, behavioral ecology of herps; Chris Sheil, Developmental biology, ecology and systematics of turtles and frogs.

Loma Linda University
Loma Linda CA
MS and PhD. Herp faculty includes: William Hayes

Louisiana State University
Museum of Natural Science, Baton Rouge, LA 70803
1 undergrad (every other year), 1 grad (every year).
Undergrads can pursue herp research with permission of faculty; no specific area of concentration.

Middle Tennessee State University
Department of Biology, Murfreesboro, TN 37132. 615-898-2847
M.S. in Biology. Both undergraduate and graduate research. Herp Faculty: Vince Cobb (snake ecology, natural history of herps, thermoregulation); Brian Miller; Matt Klukowski.

Michigan State University
Zoology Dept, 203 Natural Sciences Bldg MSU, East Lansing MI 48824
1 grad offered odd-numbered years. Masters & PhD available.
Undergrads can pursue herp research via independent study with faculty. Herp Faculty: J. Alan Holman

Missouri State University (formerly Southwestern Missouri State)
Department of Biology, 901 South National, Springfield, MO 65897
MS program. This is perfect for someone that wishes to pursue a masters because there is no competition with PhD students. Everything is geared toward masters-level research, from courses and field training to final testing and manuscript preparation.
Faculty include: Don Moll (soon Emeriti)- a well known turlte ecologist; Alicia Mathis- a well known behavioral and amphibian biologist; Brian Greene- teaches herpetology course to grads and undergrads and an expert on snakes ecology and biology; Day Ligon- physiologist studies reptiles, specializing in turtles; - Robert Wilkinson (Emeritus but still around)- an amphibian expert and one of the founders of hellbender conservation; Lynn Robbins- wildlife studies.

Ohio University/Athens
Graduate Committee Secretary, Dept. of Biol. Sci., Ohio University, Athens OH 45701-2939, 614-593-2334 (FAX 0300)
M.S. and Ph.D - functional morphology, vertebrate paleontology, molecular systematics, population and community ecology, conservation biology, taxonomy and biogeography, etc. Herp Faculty: Scott Moody, classical systematics and comparative morphology of all herps, as well as lizard paleontology and biogeography; Steve Reilly, functional morphology and systematics of salamanders, lizards, etc.; Don Miles, ecology, statistics, behavioral ecology, conservation biology, comparative evolutionary studies, primarily of lizards; Willem Roosenburg, population biology, ecology, evolution, conservation biology, primarily of turtles; Matt White, molecular systematics (electrophoresis) of all herps, conservation biol.; Brent Palmer, reproductive endocrinology, physiology and anatomy of all reptiles and amphibians, studies of pesticide disruption of reproduction; Larry Witmer, paleontology and functional morphology of archosaurs; Jim Barron, population biology and ecology of reptiles.

Pennsylvania State University
William Dunson, S. Blair Hedges, Dept of Biol, 201 Shields Bldg, Box 3000, University Park PA 16802
1 undergrad, 0 grad, offered irregularly
Undergrads can pursue herp research; there is no herp concentration. Herp Faculty: William Dunson, S. Blair Hedges

Shippensburg University
Dr. David R. Long, Dept of Biol, Shippensburg PA 17257
1 dual level grad/undergrad offered alternate summers; Master's available
Undergrads can pursue herp research if they are junior level and at least 2.5 GPA. Herp Faculty: David long, Ruthann Pitkin, Fred Howard

Southern Illinois University
Dr. Ronald A. Brandon, Dept of Zoology, Carbondale IL 62901-6501
1 dual level undergrad/grad, 1 grad seminar, offered fall alternate years
Undergrads with GPA 2.5+ can pursue research in herps. MS an PhD in Zoology with research emphasis in herpetology. Herp Faculty: Ronald Brandon

University of California, Davis
Janet Fawl
Section of Evolution & Ecology, UCD, Davis CA 95161-8755
Courses: 1 undergrad, 0 grad, offered alternate years
Undergrads can pursue research in herpetology, but the Univ of Calif does not offer any graduate degrees with a concentration in herpetology. Herp Faculty: H. Bradley Shaffer

University of California/Los Angeles
Los Angeles CA
MS and PhD. Herp faculty includes: Kenneth Nagy

James Hanken, Dept of Biology, Campus Box 30, UCB, Boulder CO 80309-0030
Courses: 2 undergrad, 1 grad, offered annually
Master's and PhD available.
Undergrads interested in herp research have a variety of options: I.R. Honors project or undergrad opportunities program. Herp faculty: James Hanken, David Chiszar, David Norris, Cynthia Carey, Hobart Smith, Richard Jones, Gregory Snyder, Jeffry Mitton

University of Florida
Gainesville FL Herpetology Program

University of Georgia
Joshua Laerm, Museum of Natural History, Athens GA 30602
1 undergrad/grad (ECL 404/604)
Ph.D available in Ecology.
At this time, only grads can pursue research in herps. Associated with Savannah River Ecology Lab near Aiken, South Carolina. All herp courses through the Dept of Ecology. Herp Faculty: John Avise, Brian Chapman, Justin Congdon, Nat Frazer, J. Whitfield Gibbons, Chester Karwoski, Joshua Laerm, Jim Richardson, Robert J. Warren.

University of Kansas
Dr. William Duellman, Museum of Natural History, Lawrence KS 66045-2454
2 undergrad, 3 grad MS and PhD in Systematics and Ecology; PhD in Natural History Collection Mangement/Museum Studies.
Undergrad can pursue herp research with permission of faculty. Qualified upper level undergrads may take two grad level courses (Amphib Biol, Reptile Biol) with permission from instructor; third course is grad seminar. Occasional special topics offered relating to herps. Herp Faculty: William Duellman, Linda Trueb, Sally Frost-Mason, Henry Fitch (emeritus but still active in special projects), Joseph Collins (staff member at museum).

University of Massachusetts
Penny Jaques, Manager, Oranismic & Evolutionary Biol, Morrill Science Center, Amherst MA 01003-0027
3 undergrad, 3 grad; herpetology offered alternate years
Masters & PhD in O & E Biology.
Undergrads can pursue herp research with permission of faculty. Herp Faculty: William Bemis, Elizabeth Brainerd, Douglas Smith

University of Miami
Profs. Lee & Savage, Dept of Biology, POB 248025, Coral Gables FL 33124
1 undergrad, 2 grad, alternate years
Master's and Ph.D available.
Undergrads can pursue research in herpetology with the permission of a professor. Herp Faculty:Julian Lee, Jay Savage, Marueen Donnelly

University of Michigan
Drs. Kluge, Nussbaum & Gans ,1220 Student Activities Bldg, Ann Arbor MI 48109
1 grad, 1 undergrad, offered annually
Masters & PhD available.
Undergrads can pursue herp research if supervised by fac advisor. Herp faculty: Arnold Kluge, Ronald Nussbaum, Carl Gans

University of Missouri/Columbia
Graduate Coordinator, 218 Tucker Hall, Div of Biology Sciences, Columbia MO 65211
1 undergrad, 0 grad, offered annually.
Does not provide a herp degree per se, but provides research opportunities in behavior, ecology, genetics and evolution using amphibs as model systems. Herp Faculty: Carl Gerhardt, Richard Sage, Raymond Semlitsch

Univeristy of Nebraska
James D. Fawcett, Dept of Biology, Omaha NE 68182
1 undergrad, 1 grad, alternate years; Masters available.
Undergrads can pursue herp research under Supervised Research and Directed Readings. Herp Faculty: James Fawcett

University of Tennessee
Dr. A.C. Echternacht, Dept of Zool, Knoxville TN 37996-0810
1 dual level grad/undergrad offered alternate fall semesters; Master's & PhD available
Undergrads can pursue herp research if they are junior level and have had basic core biol courses. Herp Faculty: AC Echternach, GM Burghardt, N Greeberg

University of Texas/Arlington
Dr. J.A. Campbell, Dept of Biol, POB 19088, Arlington TX 76019-0088
0 undergrad, 2 grad, annually; Masters & PhD available.
Undergrads can pursue herp research if supervised by faculty advisor and also graduate thesis for MS degree. Herp Faculty: Jonathan A. Campbell, Eric N. Smith. More info: UTA Herpetology.

University of Washington
R.B. Huey, Dept of Zool, Seattle WA 98185
0 undergrad, 0 grad; PhD available
Although the Univ offers no specific herp courses, herps are covered in two vertebrate biol courses. Undergrads can pursue independent research in herps. PhD possible if student does research in herps.

University of Wisconsin/Madison
Pam Henderson, Grad Sec'y, 145 Noland Hall, 250 N. Mills St, Madison WI 53706
0 grad/under grad; Masters & PhD available
Although the Univ offers no specific herp courses, students can pursue reseach in herps as part of the Masters and Ph.D program. Herp Faculty: Warren Porter

Utah State University
Logan UT 84322, 435-797-1000
Joe Mendelson; Dan Mulcahy.

Washington State University
Drs. Kenneth Kardong & Paul Verrell, Dept of Zool, Pullman WA 99164-4236
1 undergrad, 1 grad, alternate years; Masters & PhD available
Undergrads can pursue herp research under a Special Programs course. Herp Faculty: Kenneth Kardon, Paul Verrell.


Canadian Universities

University of Calgary
Drs. Russell and Rosenberg, Dept of Biol, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4
0 grad/under grad; Masters & PhD available
Undergrads can pursue research in herps if supervised by an appropriate fac memb. The above grad degress would not be specifically in h erps but may be based on herp subjects. Herp Faculty: Anthony Russell, Herbert Rosenberg.

University of Guelph
Drs. JP Bogart and P Herbert, Dept of Zool, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1
1 undergrad, grad courses vary, offered annually. Masters & PhD available
Undergrads can pursue research in herps with the acceptance of a fac member. Herp Faculty: JP Bogart, RJ Brooks, ED Stevens

This is by no means a comprehensive list of schools with herpetology courses or herpetologists on staff. The Information here was developed from original listing published in the the 1994-1995 Guide to North American Herpetology, published by the now defunct Reptile & Amphibian Magazine. Check out the annual publication of the Peterson Guide to Colleges and Universities, available in the education section of college and regular bookstores as well as university and college catalogs and some public libraries reference books section.

If you find that some information in this document has changed, please let me know what the updated information is. If you have found another school with a herp program, please email me.


Some related articles and sites of interest...

What is a zoologist (University of Toronto Dept. of Zoology)

Working With Animals

Veterinary Medical and Veterinary Technician/Animal Health Technician Schools

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