Top Colleges for Students Studying Marine Biology

Marine Biology is an exciting science that delves into the depths of the ocean to learn more about this mysterious watery world. While parts of the program will most certainly cover individual organisms that inhabit the oceans, a large part will also teach you about the habitats and ecological environments in which these creatures live and thrive. Learning about the relationships between marine organisms and their habitat is an integral part of a Marine Biology program.

Marine Biology graduates pursue careers in a variety of fields, from aquaculture, fisheries, and marine technology to environmental conservation and regulation.

If you are planning on majoring in marine biology, you may want to start by checking out these colleges. The exact programs differ from one university to the next, with some offering a degree in Marine Biology at the undergraduate level, and others offering a Bachelor’s in Marine Sciences with a focus on Marine Biology.

Marine Biology Majors Colleges

1. University Of West Florida

Wikimedia Commons user Uwfman09

The University of West Florida offers a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology.

As far as locations go, you’d be hard put to find a better university to study marine sciences. The  300 acres of marshes and wetlands located both on the university campus and the neighboring Santa Rosa Island campus (Gulf Islands Research and Education Center, or GIREC) on the Gulf Coast serve as natural laboratories for students of the program with diverse ecosystems and an abundance of live specimens of marine flora and fauna.

Students have access to a fleet of boats for sampling, state-of-the-art research facilities, an extensive array of collection gear, and advanced laboratory, field instruments, and computing equipment. Being located in Florida, students also have plenty of opportunities to gain hands-on experience and participate in field studies throughout the state.

2. Stony Brook University

Flickr user spyffe

Stony Brook University has a BS in Marine Sciences. They offer several areas of concentration, including Biological Oceanography, Experimental Marine Biology, Marine Pollution, and Diseases of Aquatic Organisms. The program is structured to give students a solid background in the basic biology, chemistry, and physics of the ocean, after which they progress to courses such as Oceanography, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Molecular and Cell Biology. After completion of these required courses, students can select their area of study.

Students of the Marine Biology program at Stony Brook University get plenty of opportunities for experiential learning, research, and internships. They also have an exciting choice of undergrad majors including marine vertebrate biology, oceanic sciences, and environmental studies.

3. University Of Maine At Machias

Flickr user Gale

The University of Maine At Machias is another school that offers students a chance to earn a Bachelor’s in Marine Biology.

Its location at the headwaters of the Machias River estuary on the Down East coast of Maine makes the UMM ideal for courses related to marine biology, mariculture, and ecology. The campus is located just minutes away from salt marshes, mudflats, sand beaches, and rocky shores. The location is prime real estate giving students easy access to aquaculture sites, marine habitats and organisms, and hatcheries.

Students get plenty of hands-on learning opportunities, whether they are studying microscopic marine flora or large marine animals. Those interested in research have access to a Geographic Information Systems lab where they can master mapping skills and gain expertise in tracking biological phenomena. Students can also research finfish and shellfish. Plus they have access to the advanced research facilities at the Downeast Institute for Applied Marine Research and Education.

Concentrations in marine biology at the University of Maine at Machias include Aquaculture, Coastal Conservation, and Marine Ecology.

4. California State University—Monterey Bay

Flickr user CSU Monterey Bay

California State University—Monterey Bay offers students the chance to earn a BS in Marine Science.

Students enrolled in this program have an exciting array of courses and electives to choose from, including core courses in The Oceans and Atmosphere, Marine Sciences in the Community, and Seafloor Mapping. Electives include Aquatic Ecology, Marine Fish Ecology, and Environmental Modeling.

The course is structured to equip students with the expertise and skills necessary to monitor and analyze marine problems. This is done through extensive lab and field experiences in acquiring, analyzing, and presenting marine data. Students also get to visit other Monterey Bay institutions where they learn about marine and coastal ecology from local experts.

5. Florida International University

Flickr user Eduardo Merille

Florida International University is another school that has a Bachelors in Marine Biology. If you like the idea of planning your own course selections, this is the program for you.

The curriculum consists of a combination of general science and marine biology classes taught by several different departments including the departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, and Earth and Environment, among others. Students attend biology, chemistry, and physics classes. They also attend Physical Oceanography, Cell Biology, Marine Ecology, and other classes related to marine biology. Marine biology electives include subjects such as Marine Geology, Fisheries Science, and Coastal Marine Conservation.

Students are highly encouraged to plan their own schedules and courses.

6. University Of North Alabama

Flickr user Phillip Hendon

The University of North Alabama has a Bachelor’s in Marine Biology where students study specific courses such as Microbiology, Marine Behavioral Ecology, Marine Botany, and Evolution. The standard courses for the major take place on the university campus. Specialty courses are taught through the nearby Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL) found in Mobile, Alabama. For this particular program, though, students should note that a chemistry minor is required, as is coursework in physics, math, and computer science.

These are just some of the many colleges and universities throughout the United States that offer excellent marine biology programs to their students! If you want to learn more about marine biology and the top schools that offer this major, we invite you to take advantage of our College Major search tool to get started on your education and future career!