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-
- Marine Ecology
- Marine Physiology
- Conservation and Management
- Marine Biology
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-
- MS in Marine Science and Climate Change
- MS in Marine Biology
- MS in Climate-Ocean-Atmosphere
- MS in Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
- MS in Marine Science
- MS in Marine Science and Oceanography
- MS in Research or Applied Marine Studies
Common Courses for MS in Marine Biology
A few of the core courses that are generally provided in the program are-
- Chemical Oceanography
- Biological Oceanography
- Physical Oceanography
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-
- Current Topics in Marine Conservation
- Marine Ecology
- Political Ecology
- Marine Plant Biology
- Marine Physiology
- Marine Invertebrates
- Deep Sea Biology
- Biology of Fishes
- Marine Tetrapod
Top 3 Universities Offering Marine Biology
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- Harvard University: The Biology of Marine Systems Curriculum is under the direction of the Department of Organism and Evolutionary Biology.
Course Offered: They offer a Bachelor's Degree in Life Sciences with eight areas of concentration. The undergraduate degree is a pre-requisite for the school's graduate program that offers a Master's Degree in Integrated Life Sciences.
- Cornell University:
Courses Offered: It offers a Bachelor's degree in Biology with a concentration in Marine Biology from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The course study includes Oceanography, Evolution and Marine Diversity, and Anatomy and Function of Marine Vertebrates.
Costs: $ 40,382 resident), $60,286 (non-resident)
- University of Miami (Fla):
Courses Offered: It offers a Bachelor's of Science degree in Marine Science. Students require a double major to complete the course and the course study includes Biology, Marine Science, Oceanography, and Chemistry.
- University of California, Santa Barbara:
Courses Offered: A Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with an emphasis in Aquatic Biology. The primary course study is a three-course program and also offers a Master's (Thesis and Comprehensive exam) and a Doctorate Program.
Bachelor’s Costs: $9,126 (residents), $24,003 (non-residents) per semester.
- University of California, Berkeley:
Courses offered: They offer a Bachelor's degree in Earth and Planetary Science with a concentration in Marine Science. The topics covered are coastal pollution and its effects on the ocean, Marine organisms, wildlife, and climate change.
Bachelor’s Costs: $9,126 (residents), $24,003 (non-residents) per semester.
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-
- Aquarium Employee- Candidates who have a Bachelor’s degree are considered eligible for working as an aquarist. Their duties include creating a conducive environment for the marine life to thrive which are maintaining and monitoring water quality in the tanks, analyzing animal behavior, providing the marine life present with activities that keep them healthy, etc. They are also required to maintain the hygiene of the tank and repair basic equipment along with planning the diets of the organisms in the aquarium.
Median Salary: $26,370
- Environmental Consultant- They have to analyze different environmental factors and their changes over time in order to provide measures that public and private industries can adapt for sustainability. This includes factors like health, construction, and other infrastructure-related safety precautions the environment might need.
Median Salary: $73,230
- Fisheries Biologist- This job is research-oriented and requires the candidates to collect statistical data on fish based on how many fishes are available at a particular point at sea during a particular time. It is to ascertain the environmental factors that are impacting marine life in order to further their study and know what are the factors causing the decline or increase.
Median Salary: $66,350
- Aquatic Scientist- This job requires the candidates to collect data about water bodies and compare long term data to create theories on it based on factors like the chemical composition of the water, the organisms that thrive, and die in it, water movement, etc. This helps them understand the influence of humans on water bodies and how it affects the water bodies adversely.
Median Salary: $73,230
- Biologist- Their job description includes studying marine plant life and to observe the way they interact with other life forms in their environment. This deals with research-oriented work including collecting samples and a lot of laboratory work.
Median Salary: $63,420
- Microbiologist- They deal with microorganisms and their growth and other factors. This job requires them to study microorganisms and observe the way they interact with other marine life. They should also keep a track of the impact they have on the water body and the organisms in it.
Median Salary- $84,400
- Horticulturist- This job tends to be more on the capitalistic side of marine biology and requires the candidate to produce better yields with respect to marine life for human entertainment and consumption. They should have extensive knowledge about the field they work in and also know how to produce better yields without seriously disturbing the ecosystem.
Median Salary: $69,073