10 Best Colleges for Marine Biology

Who among us ~didn’t~ want to be a marine biologist at one point during their youthful years? The whales, the dolphins, the majesty of it all. If you’re one of the select few people actually following through with the childhood dream of so many, keep reading.  

Duke University:

Like many other schools on this list, Duke’s biology undergraduate program offers a concentration in marine biology. The schools impressive marine lab is known for small class sizes, plenty of interactions with professors, and research opportunities.

Boston University:

If you’re looking for an immersive program, BUMP (Boston University Marine Program) might be the place for you. Professors and students at Boston University are passionate about marine conversation, global climate change, and marine species extinction. BU also has partnerships with the Sea Education Association and the New England Aquarium, so professional opportunities are at your fingertips.

University of Maine:

At the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences, you can major in marine science with a concentration in marine biology, and they also offer an oceanography concentration. Minors include fisheries and aquaculture, and you won’t find that at many other schools. If you’re looking to specialize your education from the beginning, check out this program. There are a number of classes and extracurricular activities related to environmental changes and human impacts on the ocean, so there’s a bit of an activist vibe on campus.

University of Hawaii at Hilo:

Assuming you’re really into the outdoors and the ocean, you really can’t beat Hawaii. Hilo is one of ten locations of the University of Hawaii public school system, and they offer extensive courses about marine organisms, the coral reef ecosystem, and oceanography. Classes are often held outside.

University of New England:

The School of Marine Programs at the University of New England prides itself on giving students field work opportunities. Students conduct field research in one of the following disciplines: biology of marine organisms, human impacts on the ocean, food from the ocean, and applied marine technology. Academically, they offer both a marine biology and oceanography track.

University of New Hampshire:

The program at UNH is interdisciplinary and part of the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering. The undergraduate major is called Marine, Estuarine, and Freshwater Biology and the school has aquaculture facilities and coastal research laboratories. In conjunction with Cornell, the school hosts a summer program at the Shoals Marine Laboratory off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine.

Oregon State University:

In addition to the biology focused course load, the marine biology program at Oregon State requires field and lab work related to oceanography, conservation, and ecology. Research is of the utmost importance, and students often work at the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon.   

University of Tampa:

The University of Tampa offers a marine science and biology major. Almost all of the professors conduct research projects and are often looking for research assistants. The school offers study abroad courses in Honduras and owns both a wet-lab and a dry-lab close to the Tampa Bay. Marine biology students also take weekend trips to the Florida Keys.

Eckerd College:

The marine science program at Eckerd offers specializations in marine biology, marine chemistry, marine geology, and marine geophysics. Students love to get outside and a high percentage of Eckerd students apply (and are accepted to) a six-week research cruise with the Sea Education Association.

Cornell University:

At Cornell, marine biology is technically a minor. But, there are a number of pre-professional resources available that make Cornell a good choice. The Shoals Marine Laboratory in Maine is also under Cornell’s umbrella, and there are unique summer research opportunities open only to Cornell students.


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