Best Marine Biology Colleges

A fantasy career for many younger children as well as the fictional vocation of George Costanza, marine biology can be an engaging and rewarding major for those who elect to follow their dreams into college. Marine biologist colleges will teach you geology, oceanography, chemistry, biology, and a host of scientific methods and techniques employed by those in the field. Career paths include oil spill response specialist, reef restoration, and fishery management; others work for zoos, federal/state/local governments, or museums. This major can also be a launching pad for students who wish to go on to earn graduate degrees that lead to careers in academia, research labs, or as marine veterinarians. Unsurprisingly, the schools on our list of Best Marine Biology Colleges are located on either the East or West Coasts since many courses will involve direct fieldwork. We will also reveal marine biology salary info.

Click the links below for more information about each school on our list of best marine biology colleges. Click here to read our methodology.

1) University of California, San Diego

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: 76
  • Program includes regular laboratory work and field trips to intertidal zones, salt marshes, and other marine ecosystems.
  • Elective options include the following courses: The Coral Reef Environment, Marine Mammal Biology, Biology of the Cryosphere, Marine Invertebrates, and Biology of Fishes.

2) University of Miami

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: 55
  • The Marine Biology & Ecology program leads to a Bachelor of Science degree in the field. There are also many dual major options.
  • Courses include Chemical Oceanography, Evolution & Biodiversity, Marine Vertebrate Zoology, and Origin and Geology of the Galapagos Islands.

3) University of California, Santa Cruz

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: 61
  • The marine biology program leads to B.S. degree and requires several more courses than the general biology B.A. major.
  • The department is located on the UC Santa Cruz Coastal Science Campus which includes underwater laboratories and live marine life facilities.

4) University of California, Los Angeles

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: 20
  • All Marine Biology students complete the Marine Biology Quarter (MBQ) where they actually live the life of someone in the profession.
  • Course offerings include Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences, Society and Genetics, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Marine Organismic Biology.

5) Boston University

6) Stony Brook University

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: 49
  • In addition to a B.S. in Marine Sciences, students can pursue degrees in Marine Vertebrate Biology, Coastal Environmental Studies, and Atmospheric and Oceanic Studies.
  • 90 faculty members teach within the larger School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS).

7) Northeastern University

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: 12
  • The B.S. in Marine Biology at Northeastern includes the Three Seas Program which allows undergrads to spend a year studying in three spectacular marine settings: the North Atlantic rocky shores, North Pacific kelp habitats, and tropical coral reefs.
  • Required coursework includes Coastal Sustainability, Animal Behavior, Ecosystems Ecology, Genetics and Evolution in Action, and Wetlands.

8) University of Washington

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: 11
  • Over 45 faculty members teach in the Marine Biology department.
  • Research opportunities abound through the larger Undergraduate Research Program as well as through courses like Seminar in Marine Biology and Research in Marine Biology.

9) University of North Carolina at Wilmington

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: 84
  • The Center for Marine Science facilitates research in the fields of oceanography, coastal and wetland studies, marine biomedical and environmental physiology, and marine biotechnology and aquaculture.
  • New lab was constructed a decade ago to complement an already existing wet lab, outdoor tank area, SCUBA facilities, and shellfish research area.

10) University of South Carolina

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: 54
  • The Bachelor of Science in Marine Sciences offers undergraduates a holistic approach to the student of the ocean.
  • The Baruch Marine Field Laboratory plays host to over 100 marine scientists each year and is incorporated into the undergraduate coursework.

11) University of Delaware

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: 21
  • The Marine Sciences major involves the study of “marine biology, oceanography, geology, and other related sciences, as well as policy and environmental management.”
  • Being a coastal state, Delaware students enjoy opportunities to study river, bay, and ocean life/habitats on a regular basis.

12) University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: N/A
  • This program is jointly administered by two academic departments: Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB) and Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology (EEMB).
  • Over 150 Upper-Level Biology courses are available.

13) University of Rhode Island

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: 39
  • This is a growing program as more than ten new faculty members have been hired in just the last few years.
  • Offers a major in Marine Biology as well as a minor and a host of dual major options.

14) University of Connecticut

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: 11
  • Offers a Marine Sciences major, Marine Biology minor, and a 4+1 master’s degree program.
  • While students can begin at the Storrs or Avery Point campus, the latter is located on the shores of Long Island Sound and features a fleet of research vessels, laboratories, and oceanographic support facilities.

15) University of Oregon

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: 10
  • One of the only programs on the Pacific Coast that offers a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology.
  • Students start off at the Eugene campus but also spend a minimum of three terms at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB) in Charleston.

16) College of Charleston

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: 29
  • Prepare students for careers in fields such as fisheries biology, oceanography, wildlife biology, aquaculture, environmental conservation, biomedicine, and teaching.
  • Grice Marine Laboratory features classrooms, research labs, access to vessels, a wet lab, an aquarium, and an invertebrate museum.

17) Eckerd College

  • Number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually: 69
  • Campus is situated right near the Gulf of Mexico—an amazing waterfront location at which to student marine biology.
  • As a liberal arts college, Eckerd faculty focuses 100% of their attention on undergraduate students and you won’t have to compete with graduate students for research opportunities.

Marine Biology Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median marine biology salary is $65,000 per year. This works out to an hourly wage of $31. The field is only expected to grow by a single percentage point through 2031. However, there are still expected to be 15,000 openings per year in the coming decade.

Final Thoughts: Best Marine Biology Colleges

We hope you have found our list of the Best Marine Biology Colleges to be helpful. Students interested in marine biology may also wish to explore related top colleges lists such as:

Colleges Worth Your Money

2024 Edition

A Guide to What America's Top Schools Can Do for You

Buy on Amazon Now
College Transitions Dataverse Book Image