Scholarships for Marine Biology Majors

From the innovative Jacques-Yves Cousteau, inventor of the Aqua Lung, to George Constanza in a classic Seinfeld episode, many of our most beloved members of society have dabbled in marine biology over the years. The inky depths of the world’s oceans are one of the last remaining untouched frontiers. Thus, it often attracts young scientists with a sense of adventure.

Oceans cover nearly 72% of the Earth’s surface. Marine biologists passionate about their field devote themselves to uncovering our oldest ecological mysteries. Budding marine biologists may feel that they are a step behind their competition, however; in a field dependent on experience and fieldwork, it is sometimes difficult to get started. Fear not, deep divers: here are a few marine biology scholarships available to get in on the ground (ocean) floor:

A overhead shot of the sea with a small white ship floating in it.

California Sea Grants

Deadline: February 12, 2020

Amount: Varying

The state of California has a long-standing relationship with oceanography and marine biology. Home to some of the world’s premier aquariums in Monterrey and Los Angeles, the Golden State is proud of its 840 miles of Pacific coastline and thus often ties the ocean into their culture. Located in the state’s naval hub, the University of California San Diego often makes a concerted effort to attract students of all stripes to their school to pursue majors in marine science.

The California Sea Grant program, which combines academic efforts to study marine biology with funding stipulations, is one of the more popular graduate grant programs in the country for students in the field. Including marine biology scholarships, fellowships, and internships, the California Sea Grant program is a fantastic opportunity for students to gain field experience, assisting with ongoing research, before beginning their own. The programs offered roll, meaning that scholarships or fellowship opportunities come and go irregularly. Keep an eye on their webpage for further information.

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National Ocean Scholar Program

Deadline: Varying

Amount: Varying

Founded in 1997 to increase interest in marine sciences among the youth, the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) is an academic competition centered around the ocean, its ecosystems, and its effects on human life. According to the NOSB webpage, nearly 28,000 students have participated in the program over the past two decades, averaging out to 1,400 a year. As a way to give back to the student community at large, the NOSB sponsors the annual National Ocean Scholar Program to their alumni who aim to work in either oceanography or marine biology. The NOSB holds both academic excellence and integrity in high demand, necessitating both for inclusion in the field.

Usually, the application consists of academic transcripts as well as a choice between two essay questions, varying by the year. In 2016, for example, students either wrote a persuasive essay about a challenge facing marine biologists or explained the environmental effects of an ocean feature. In total, the competition awards four or five scholarships to high school seniors, to further their education in a field of marine science.

Don Reynolds Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: TBD for 2021

Amount: $1,000

According to recent statistics, the United States has over 3.5 million registered SCUBA divers, making it one of the country’s more popular recreational activities. To buoy (no pun intended) support for SCUBA, many organizations have sprung up worldwide since the activity first took off among the general public in the 1990s. Many of these organizations recognize the importance of studying marine ecosystems often visited by divers. One such organization, Beneath The Sea, bills itself on its website as “America’s Largest Consumer SCUBA and Dive Travel Show.

Beneath The Sea supports the ongoing expansion of SCUBA as an activity, as well as increasing knowledge of our oceans. Beneath The Sea rewards young marine scientists with the Don Reynolds Memorial Scholarship, open to students pursuing a career in a marine field that necessitates SCUBA knowledge. Marine biologists often dive to reefs and other underwater locations to explore the life beneath the sea (again, no pun intended), so experience as a SCUBA diver is, without a doubt, a plus for anyone interested. To apply, students must be US citizens between the ages of 17-21 who hope to work a job where SCUBA training would supplement their resume.

Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship

Amount: $9,500

Deadline: TBD for 2021

Named for Ernest Frederick Hollings, a Democratic Senator from South Carolina who served in congress from 1966 to 2005, this scholarship offers a ten-week internship working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Perhaps the most prestigious of the field scholarships for undergraduate marine biology majors, the Hollings Scholarship offers an academic stipend of up to $9,500 a year as well as a $700 weekly salary for the paid internship.

In total, some Hollings scholars are awarded nearly $17,000 a year, as well as the invaluable experience provided by working in an NOAA facility. Hollings scholars are expected to assist researchers with their studies as lab interns and, at the same time, gain hands-on experience in their chosen field through practical work. Another perk offered by the Hollings Scholarship: scholars are invited to NOAA’s annual conference to present their research, an opportunity that all marine biologists would love to have.

Interested in becoming a marine biologist? Use College Raptor’s free match tool to discover the best school for you that has a great program!

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