ic S/general/checkmark circled Thanks for subscribing! Be on the lookout for our next newsletter.
ic S/general/checkmark circled
Saved to My Favorites. View My Favorites
Articles / Majors & Careers / 10 Best Colleges for Marine Biology

10 Best Colleges for Marine Biology

Written by Sam Jaquez | Aug. 3, 2021
Photo of tropical fish swimming in the ocean by David Clode on Unsplash

Marine Biology Colleges in the U.S.

What is Marine Biology?

Marine biology is the study of marine organism and life in underwater environments. Marine biology major may be a good choice for students interested in studying the biology of aquatic organisms.

There are many different job possibilities for college grads with a marine biology degree. A marine biology degree prepares students for careers as a marine biologist, aquatic scientist, research scientist, marine environmental technician, marine veterinarian, and more. 

If you are planning on studying marine biology in college but not sure what your school options are, no need to worry. There are many great

Top Marine Biology Colleges

  1. University of Oregon
  2. Florida International University
  3. University of Hawaii at Hilo 
  4. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  5. California State University Monterey Bay
  6. University of New Hampshire
  7. University of California Los Angeles
  8. Oregon State University
  9. Eckerd College
  10. University of Maine

Learn More about 10 Best Colleges to Study Marine Biology

University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is a public university located between the Pacific Ocean and the cascade mountains in Eugene, Oregon. The University of Oregon offers the only official marine biology degree in the Pacific Northwest. 

The university is home to the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB) where undergraduate and graduate students can study marine biology. For undergraduate students, the university of Oregon offers a BA and a BS in marine biology. 

Lower-level courses are taken at UO’s Eugene campus. Higher-level courses are taken at the OIMB campus where all of the renowned labs and research takes place. Undergraduate students participate in plenty of hands-on research. There are also opportunities to study abroad through the university’s Tropical Marine Biology course in Panama and more.

Florida International University

Florida International University is a public research university is a highly ranked university focused on producing meaningful research and creative activities. The university is a great choice for marine biology because it is located close to the Atlantic Ocean. 

Undergraduate marine biology students at FIU are provides a strong foundation in structural and evolutionary developmental biology, physiology, organismal diversity, physical oceanography and ecology. 

Florida International University’s marine biology program takes advantage of its coastal location. Students have access to the university’s many marine biology facilities and labs including the Aquarium Room, the Mesocosms, the Aquarius Reef Base, and many more. 

University of Hawaii at Hilo 

What better place to study marine biology than in Hawaii? Located in the small beach town of Hilo on the Island of Hawaii, the University of Hawaii at Hilo is brimming with opportunities. 

UH Hilo offers both a BA and a BS in marine science. The mission of the marine science program is to inspire and enlighten students through interactive hands-on learning, research involvement, and community outreach. The program focuses on the natural and cultural environment of Hawaii Island. 

There are many opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience outside of class. Students can part in research using the marine vessels, receive CUBA diving training for scuba-specific research, and use the scanning electron microscopy lab.

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry is an acclaimed school for environmental sciences in Syracuse, New York.  

SUNY ESF offers a BS in Aquatic and Fisheries Science within their department of environmental and forest biology. As part of the program students study the aquatic ecosystems of wetlands, streams, lakes, estuaries, and oceans. 

AFS students also participate in at least six credit-hours of field-based biology instruction as part of the degree requirements. Students also have the opportunity to work in a variety of research facilities on and off campus. 

California State University Monterey Bay

California State University, Monterey Bay is a 4- year public school located just one mile from the shores of the Monterey Bay. The campus is small, with just over 7,500 students, which allows students to receive personal attention in all classes. 

Cal State Monterey Bay offers a BS in Marine Science. Their Research Diving Program offers research-focused diving instruction and certification for students. 

Students interested in research can find opportunities through Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center which provides information about research programs, internships, and even expeditions. Specific marine science research opportunities are also available through the Marine Science Research program. 

University of New Hampshire

The University of New Hampshire is a top-tier research university with a 92% success rate. The university is located on a bay just off the coast of New Hampshire. UNH offers a BS in Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Biology. 

The program is great for students interested in freshwater biology. Since UNH is located near many freshwater reserves as well as close to the Atlantic Ocean, students have opportunities to study and research near freshwater and saltwater environments.

There are many research and internship opportunities through the university. Additionally, there are many study abroad trips for students within the MEF Biology major. Students can choose to study abroad in New Zealand or study-away at the Shoals Marine Laboratory, which is operated by UNH and Cornell.

Students who major in Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Biology are encouraged to minor in a related subject, such as zoology, sustainability, marine policy, plant biology, foreign language, and more.

University of California Los Angeles

The University of California Los Angeles is a top-ranked university with a mission to integrate education, research, and service through emphasis on discovery, creativity, and innovation. 

UCLA offers a BS in Marine Biology through the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology department. The program is a rigorous and satisfying for students who want research to be an integral part of their degree. 

The extensive Marine Biology Quarter (MBQ) is what sets UCLA apart from other marine biology schools. Through the required MBQ program, UCLA students have traveled all over the world to study marine biology and participate in research. The MBQ program enables students to gain real-world experience as a marine biologist before graduation. 

Oregon State University

Oregon State University is a nationally ranked public university. While there is not a dedicated marine biology degree, OSU does offer a BS in Biology with a concentration in marine biology

Students will participate in their marine biology research at the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center on the coast in Newport, Oregon.  

Marine Biology courses include: 

  • Marine Biology and Ecology
  • Intro to Marine Life in the Sea
  • Pacific Northwest Costal Ecosystems
  • Marine and Estuarine Invertebrate Biology.

Eckerd College

Eckerd College is a private liberal arts college that is located right on the ocean in St. Petersburg, Florida. The university is one of the best marine biology colleges in Florida because of its location and hands-on educational approach.

While the BS degree is in marine science, students interested in marine biology have the option to study through the marine biology track. This track provides a specialized education with emphasis on ocean-based biological and geological studies.

The university’s marine science program is a truly unique experience. The hands-on curriculum is designed to offer students as many in-field experiences as possible. Students can find research and internship experiences in the marine science lab, on the university’s teaching vessels, through summers at the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences, field research with the Eckerd College Dolphin Project, and more. 

University of Maine

The University of Maine is a small public university with a large and strong marine science program. With over 30 marine science faculty members, the University of Maine contains the largest concentration of marine experts in Maine

Through the School of Marine Sciences students can earn a B.S. in Marine Science with a specialization in marine biology. Student receive the education and training of a regular biology program but with each class focused on marine organisms. 

The university offers a Semester by the Sea program where students are immersed in marine science for a 16-week semester. During the program, students study at the university’s Marine Center in field-oriented classes. 

Keep Reading

Written by


Sam Jaquez

Sam is a freelance writer. She studied at the University of Massachusetts Boston where she earned a degree in English.

More on Majors & Careers

See all
Article Headers

Admitted: College Majors, Choosing a School, and Wise Words for Decision Season

In Episode 1 our host, Case Western student Gabby Alphonse talks to fellow CC Student Ambassador Riley Chong about choosing a maj…


Career Profile: Criminal Defense Attorney

Jeff VanNorman serves as a criminal defense attorney as a part of the VanNorman Law firm in Phoenix, Arizona. With a wife and thr…

Two girls riding bikes down a boardwalk by the ocean

11 Ways to Use Your Summer Break Wisely

All over, people seem to be gearing up for a summer filled with the barbecues, beach trips, and family reunions that were so sore…

Opening Up About My Mental Health Helped Others

Opening Up About My Mental Health Helped Others

Watch the video and read the full transcript below

"Well, I was born at five months, and my mom, she's...a druggie, you …

Summer Camp

9 Summer Jobs That Pay Above Average

Summer is only a few weeks away, and you may already be thinking about how to spend it. Summer is a great time to make money, gai…

Get a student loan that goes beyond tuition.

Ascent offers cosigned and non-cosigned student loans with exclusive benefits that set students up for success.

Explore Now!
Find Your Scholarship

Want to find money for school that doesn’t need to be paid back? Access insights and advice on how to search and apply for scholarships!

Search for Scholarship