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Last Updated: May 07, 2021

Studying Marine Biology in the US

Marine Biology deals with the study of aquatic animals and their ecosystems along with the way in which the organisms interact with their immediate atmospheres. This field comes under the subject of oceanography and is important in today’s world due to the rising dependence on the oceans for a form of living.

Students who are interesting in marine life can take up a BS or MS in Marine Biology which gives them the opportunity to study the ocean and also about topics like marine chemistry and ecosystems. As part of their learning, they will have to study the impact of humans on marine life and find ways to minimize the damage done to the ocean often working on solutions that can make the oceans habitable again. Marine Biologists research in their specific fields of choosing but at the same time focus on the protection and preservation of the different marine species.

People who have completed their education in Marine Biology can work as zoologists, marine ecologists, environmental consultants, fisheries biologists, aqua-culturists, etc. While some people choose to work on marine organisms and their physical and biological features, others can also choose to work on the ocean in itself by being oceanographers or hydrologists thereby bettering the ocean from all the harm that has been done to it by humans.

Benefits of Studying Marine Biology

The importance of studying a program in Marine Biology is based on the fact that despite being covered by 71 percent of the Earth’s surface, most of it is still unexplored. The livelihood that depends on the ocean and the living organisms in the ocean account for a vast population of species that have to be studied about and protected by the knowledge that has been gathered about them.

In Marine Biology and Science Programs, students can earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Some universities also offer a combined study program comprising of the two fields. There are over just 60 major colleges or universities, which offer courses in Marine Biology and many are accredited by the Regional Association of Colleges and secondary schools.

They will have to learn about coral reefs, trenches, sea beds, open ocean, kelp forest, etc. along with environmental factors like coastal storms, coastal flooding, etc. These topics will impact both humans who live in the coastal areas and the marine life including in the calamity which calls for proper mitigation measure implementation.

Studying Marine Biology helps uncover facts related to the better part of the world and also to create awareness about topics like climate change, human tampering, waste disposal cultures, etc. which all contribute to the decline of the planet through the ill-effects each of these factors contributes.

Undergraduate Program in Marine Biology

In order to become a Marine Biologist, it is not extremely important to start with a Bachelor’s in the subject. Since higher studies are mostly required for job requirements in the course, students often start out with subjects that are more familiar to them like Biochemistry, Biology, Botany, Zoology, Microbiology, etc. in order to lay a foundation in the field.

But if the student is sure about their career goals and field of study they can always opt for a BS in Marine Biology since this is an interdisciplinary course that can provide the student with information from the different fields necessary. The degree course takes 3-4 years to be complete and requires the student to take up Marine Biology as their major while they are also required to take electives in the subject at the same time. The average cost for taking BS has been estimated to be $29,706 per semester but the cost can change from university to university and is also different for commuting students and resident students.

Common Courses for BS in Marine Biology

The common subjects that are taught for BS in Marine Biology are-

Master’s Program in Marine Biology

Students who have completed their Bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology often opt for a Master’s program due to the vastness of the field and the inability of covering most of the topics in depth before taking up a career in the field. The prerequisites for the course include prior knowledge in calculus, physics, general and organic chemistry, biochemistry, and biology. Students also find that knowing biotechnology and microbiology also helps them in the field.

Most colleges and universities have a 2-year Master’s program where students will have to complete their coursework in the first year and work in the Marine Lab during the second year. It is also often required that they complete a project within the stipulated time in order to receive their degree. The average cost for studying MS has been estimated to be $41,500 for just tuition.

Colleges offer a Thesis and Non-Thesis option for MS students where the former is for students who want to continue on to their Doctoral Program and the latter is for students who want to move on to a career after their course completion. While the former deals with a research-based method of approaching the subject, the latter includes core courses and other electives that students have to complete.

Programs for MS in Marine Biology

Different universities have different approaches for their MS programs in Marine Biology. While some colleges offer degrees under different specializations, some others offer a degree for Marine Biology but split it for those who want to pursue higher studies and those who do not. The programs that are offered are-

Common Courses for MS in Marine Biology

A few of the core courses that are generally provided in the program are-

Doctoral Programs in Marine Biology

People who are interested in researching further into the topics they chose as their concentration take up the Doctoral program since it lets them train themselves in their particular discipline. While students will be encouraged to study theory and research less until their Master’s, a Doctoral Program will let them both synthesize the information they have collected from their study and use it for policy-making.

Students applying for the Doctoral program will need to have research experience, completed degrees, and necessary coursework, and will have to submit transcripts and recommendation letters to aid them in their endeavor. Students will have to also submit their dissertation and an examination based on the coursework to receive their Ph.D.

Course Requirements for Doctoral Program

A few of the core courses that are often included in the program are-

Top 3 Universities Offering Marine Biology

  1. Duke University in Durham North Carolina
    Courses Offered: The University's Biology Department offers a B.S and A.B in Biology with specialization in Marine Biology with Math, Chemistry, and Ecology and electives in Microbiology. The Department of Marine Science and Conservation offers a Ph.D. program with a specialization in Marine Biology. Costs: $27,940 per semester
  2. Boston University in Boston, MA
    Courses Offered: BU's College of Arts and Science offers a B.A. in Marine Science. Students can opt for courses in Marine Geology and Biology by completing core courses like Chemistry, Physics, and Statistics. There is a mandatory 4 -course marine semester, which the students can take for studying sensory Biology and tropical oceanography of the Caribbean Sea. A minor in Marine Science can take a total of five courses in Marine Biology. Costs: $58,560
  3. The University of Maine in Orono, ME
    Courses Offered: An affiliated sea grant college ranked as one of the top public schools in the US. It offers a B.S in Marine Science with a specialization in Marine Biology, Aquaculture, and Physical Ocean Sciences. Students get to participate in a semester by the residential sea program at the Darling Marine Center. Costs: $11,438 (in-state), $31,748(out-of-state)

Other Universities Offering Marine Biology

Career Opportunities for Marine Biology Graduates

Marine Biologists generally work as research scientists but there is other research-oriented work they can do according to which can provide them with above-average pay and also keep them active in the loop of environmental matters. Since their jobs provide them with ample opportunity to better the world both by dealing with problems of hunger and other pressing problems like the decline in aquatic life, it is imperative that the jobs be taken extremely seriously and done with so much commitment. A few of the jobs that can be taken up by Marine Biologists are-