best marine biology undergraduate programs

Last Updated on September 5, 2022 by Smile Ese

Everybody would like to make the most of their educational investment. Before making the great decision of joining any undergraduate program; students must make sure that they are taking the best program for them. It should be an effective and perfect match for them as well as their goals. The range of choice is wide, and therefore students need to have some basic knowledge about marine biology so that they can do a proper comparison between the majors that are available for consideration.

Collegelearners affords a plethora of information on top marine biology colleges, best marine biology universities in the world, best marine biology universities in europe and so much more. Ensure you peruse through our catalogue for relevant information on similar topics.

best marine biology undergraduate programs

More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, and of this water, more than 96 percent is held by oceans. These statistics certainly shed some light on why the field of marine biology is incredibly important. What happens amongst animals, plants, organisms, and ecosystems under the sea can have a drastic effect on the entire planet, including human beings.

Today, students who graduate from a marine biology program are greatly in-demand. Many go on to enter enriching professional careers after their studies, working as environmental consultants, marine engineers, research scientists, policy advisors, and much more. For those who prefer the classroom, graduate and PhD opportunities abound for marine biology students eager to continue exploring the academic field.

Choosing the right university to study marine biology can give students the scholastic foundation and field experience they need to kick-start a promising career. Here are the 10 best colleges in the U.S. to study marine biology.

  1. University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL)
    University of Miami
    Chad Cooper, Main Gate University of Miami, CC BY 2.0
    Located just a few miles from the shores of southern Florida, the University of Miami’s Department of Marine Biology and Ecology gives passionate students the classroom education and hands-on training they need to become experts in the most important issues facing the world’s oceans today.

Undergraduates in the Marine Biology and Ecology track have a huge choice of degree programs, including Geological Sciences, Marine Affairs, Oceanography, and Marine Science. Students can elect a focus based on research interest or consider what’s most relevant to their intended future career: in the past, graduates of the University of Miami program have gone on to prestigious positions in conservation, environmental policy and law, business, and much more.

For post-grad students, the university offers a Master of Professional Science with degree tracks in Marine Mammal Science, and Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management.

  1. Boston University (Boston, MA)
    Boston University
    Brian Chang-Yun Hsu, Marsh Chapel, CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the top private research universities anywhere in the country, Boston University offers inspiring coursework and exciting opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to pursue cutting-edge research in the field of marine biology.

The program emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach: bringing together faculty and resources from Boston University’s Department of Biology and its Department of Earth & Environment, so that students can get involved in a wide range of marine biology topic areas such as evolution, ecology, and conservation science.

Moreover, hands-on research areas cover a number of critical ocean issues like climate change and overfishing. During their time at Boston University, students can continually benefit from the school’s ties with local organizations in the greater Boston area including the New England Aquarium.

  1. Samford University (Birmingham, AL)
    Samford University
    Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Attracting science students from across the country with its small classes, one-to-one faculty attention, and emphasis on real-world experience, the marine science bachelor’s program at Samford University gives students the foundation they need to excel in the marine biology field.

A key feature of Samford’s marine biology program is the required semester students spend working at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

Located off the coast of Alabama in Mobile Bay, it is the state’s primary center for marine research and education. During their time at the lab, students benefit from the mentorship of lab faculty and the chance to conduct up-close marine field research: an unparalleled experience that can benefit students immensely when it’s time to to apply for grad school or head out into the workforce.

  1. University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
    UCLA
    b r e n t, Janss Steps, Royce Hall in Background, UCLA, CC BY 2.0

Students interested in marine animals and their environment will find a thriving marine biology program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Coming under the college’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the marine biology major introduces students to a robust life sciences core curriculum, along with research projects that get students out of the classroom and amongst the sea life they are studying.

A favorite for students is the Marine Biology Quarter (MBQ) in which undergrads experience what life is really like for a marine biologist. During this hands-on time for experimentation and data collection, students will interact with not only expert science faculty members, but also a cadre of sharks, clownfish, dolphins, pufferfish, and all sorts of other non-matriculating marine visitors to their vibrant classroom-at-sea.

  1. University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA)
    UC Santa Barbara
    Coolcaesar, UCSB University Center and Storke Tower, CC BY-SA 4.0
    One of the only colleges where undergrads can get a major in aquatic biology, the University of California, Santa Barbara, is a top choice for students seeking a broader aquatic education that encompasses not only marine organisms and oceanography, but also the study of freshwater ecosystems.

The uniqueness of the aquatic biology major sets up undergrads to enter a fulfilling career in conservation, fisheries, water quality, and more. On the other hand, many graduating students go on to complete a master’s education or join the PhD track.

Either way, during their time at UC Santa Barbara, students will benefit from challenging science coursework complemented by field experience at outdoor labs that take learners into the Pacific Ocean, the Santa Barbara Channel, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and beyond.

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  1. Auburn University (Auburn, AL)
    Auburn University
    dregsplod, Auburn campus with Samford Hall, CC BY 2.0

Home to an expansive biological sciences department, Auburn University offers marine biology students the freedom to get involved with interdisciplinary research projects across campus and beyond. It’s not unusual for students to interact with local organizations like the Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit or the Auburn Group in Ecology, as well as international groups like the Organization for Tropical Studies.

Combining an academic science curriculum with cross-campus and real-world field research gives marine biology students at Auburn a head start cultivating their future careers. Key areas of focus at the program include marine evolution, genetics, ecological interactions, and much more. Wherever students choose to direct their focus, they will find passionate faculty members across the school who are eager to include undergrads in the exciting scientific work happening every day at Auburn.

  1. Northeastern University (Boston, MA)
    Northeastern University
    Piotrus, Centennial Common, Northeastern University, CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the top 50 universities in the United States according to U.S. News & World Report, Northeastern University is known for its robust research opportunities, many of which emerge from the school’s significant research grants from the National Institute of Science.

Marine biology students at Northeastern will undoubtedly benefit from this substantial science funding. The school offers a marine biology bachelor’s degree, enabling students to graduate with a core foundation in marine sciences as well as specialized experience in their fields of interest – including the option to take a pre-veterinary track.

Northeastern is also known for its Three Seas Program, an elective option that lets marine biology students spend a year doing fieldwork in New England, Panama, and the U.S. Pacific Coast.

  1. Florida International University (Miami, FL)
    Florida International University
    DaveBenRoberts, Florida International University, CC BY-SA 4.0
    The Marine Sciences Program at Florida International University takes spectacular advantage of the college’s location on the coast of Miami – giving students access to exciting field research opportunities amidst South Florida’s rich and varied marine ecosystem.

The interdisciplinary program at FIU offers a marine biology major and minor degree option to undergraduate students, while graduate students with an interest in marine biology can study under faculty in related departments like Biological Sciences or Earth and Environment. In addition, the school runs a selective marine biology/biology cohort program for undergrads in the marine biology or general biology departments.

Studying together at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus, students accepted into the program get close mentorship from world-class faculty, priority research opportunities, and early registration for some labs.

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  1. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (Syracuse, NY)
    SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
    DASonnenfeld, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, CC BY-SA 4.0

Acclaimed as the nation’s premier institution for the study of environmental science and natural resource management, the College of Environmental Science and Forestry, part of the State University of New York (SUNY), attracts many students with an academic passion for aquatic and marine biology.

The school’s aquatic program has achieved global recognition for training students to become aquatic science professionals.

Along with studying a core curriculum of math and science, students delve deep into the world of marine and freshwater ecosystems, learning how these valuable natural systems can be understood and protected. Students are encouraged to broaden this scientific education with subjects like natural history, economics, communications, and social science, ultimately positioning graduates to pursue careers in government agencies, private consultancies, environmental NGOs, and more.

  1. Oregon Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Oregon (Charleston, OR)
    University of Oregon
    Visitor7, Global Scholars Hall, CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the only places on the Pacific Coast where undergrads can get a bachelor’s degree in marine biology, the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Oregon combines rigorous in-classroom biology study with hands-on field experience at the school’s marine laboratory campus in Charleston, Oregon – famous for its spectacular scenery on the rugged Oregon coast.

A number of internship placements and research opportunities are available to students, including international options such as a Tropical Marine Biology Course in Central America.

In addition to supporting undergraduate students to get a world-class education in marine biology, the University of Oregon also offers graduate studies in biology for masters students and PhD candidates, who can choose to focus on marine organisms and ecosystems within the broader biology department.

best marine biology universities in the world

Marine Biology is the study of marine organisms and creatures depending on bodies of water, including their behaviors and interactions with the environment. Marine biology science is a vast discipline with various specializations; hence, university researchers focus on a particular aspect of the study. The reliance and adherence of world societies to our world’s oceans emphasize the importance of marine biology study.

Many universities worldwide have focused on the science of marine biology throughout the years. Some have developed the discipline in their institutions above other schools, seen from their impact on the global marine biology community and received recognitions. Here are some of the best marine biology schools in the world.

Top Marine Biology Schools in the World

1. James Cook University

  • Degrees Offered: Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD

The University College of Townsville, James Cook University’s former name, was proposed in 1957 and officially opened in 1961. The university got its new name through a Queensland Parliament bill in 1969. Since its conception in the 1950s, JCU has continued the pursuit of scientific excellence, particularly in marine biology.

James Cook University’s College of Science and Engineering houses the marine biology program for undergraduate and graduate tracks. CSE focuses on the education and application of areas, including marine biology, as part of the Division for Tropical Environments and Societies. The college utilizes a hands-on learning and research approach to ensure quality outputs.Since the CSE and JCU focused on advancing the disciplines within and around marine biology, it is no surprise that its prestige went above par. It has received multiple awards and honors for the excellence of its research and graduates. It’s no surprise that JCU is among the best marine biology schools and is currently at the top spot among international institutions offering marine biology.

2. Ocean University of China

  • Degrees Offered: Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD

The Ocean University of China established itself as the Private Qingdao University in 1924. Qingdao was later nationalized in 1930 and renamed the National Shandong University. A merger and several names change later, the Ministry of Education changed its name to the Ocean University of China in 2002. The institution prides itself in attaining excellence in the fisheries and marine sciences field.

The Ocean University of China’s College of Marine Sciences started with the foundation of the OUC itself. The CMS embodies the OUC’s focus on studying and researching the ocean sciences. The Ocean University of China is one of the top institutes for marine biology, with full support from the Chinese government.

3. University of Queensland

  • Degrees Offered: Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD

A 1909 State Parliament Act established the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. The university was founded officially in 1910, and teaching started the following year. UQ rapidly expanded after World War I, developing its fields and disciplines decades forward.

The University of Queensland’s Centre for Marine Science is the leading research and training institution for the marine science discipline. The center is one of the largest and most diverse collaborations of marine experts in Australia.

Through the efforts of its faculty, researchers, and students, the Centre for Marine Science’s record in developing and promoting knowledge, approaches, and technologies is unparalleled. The University of Queensland consistently ranks as one of the best among marine science universities worldwide.

4. University of Tasmania

  • Degrees Offered: Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD

The University of Tasmania started in 1890 and is Australia’s fourth oldest university. The university promotes a philosophy of symbiosis between the environment and the academic and research community. The relationship revolves around environmental study and preservation for the benefit of both sides.

The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies is the University of Tasmania’s premier institution for promoting the discipline. The institute prides itself as a world-class center of excellence for research and education. Various global ranking organizations have already cited the University of Tasmania for its high quality of trained scientists and researchers, placing it in the upper bracket of marine science universities globally.

5. Aarhus University

  • Degrees Offered: Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD

Aarhus University in Denmark started in 1928 upon the inauguration of the University Studies in Jutland. The university eventually gained recognition as Aarhus University in 1933 through the help and support of the government and the Aarhus community.

Aarhus University’s Department of Ecoscience started in 1989 as the National Environmental Research Institute. NERI became part of Aarhus University then became the Department of Ecoscience. The series of name changes characterize the ever-changing strategies of the department to adapt to the challenges and demands of marine science.

The Department of Ecoscience in this esteemed marine biology institution is recognized in Denmark and around the world as today’s leading institution for the study and research of marine science. Its produced experts and researchers are well-recognized in the field. Aarhus University occupies the top ranks of international marine science institutions worldwide.

6. Sorbonne University

  • Degrees Offered: Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD

Sorbonne University is yet another one of the best marine biology schools in the world. It started in 2018 as a public university created by the merger of Paris-Sorbonne University and Pierre and Marie Curie University. The Sorbonne University’s structure focuses on the three faculties of arts and humanities, science and engineering, and medicine.

The Sorbonne University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering houses the institution’s marine science program. On its own, Pierre and Marie Curie University already rank among the best marine science universities in the world. The merger made significant leaps forward in marine science for the resulting institution.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering relies on its research teams and experts to formulate its policies. This approach ensures consistent innovation and relevant excellence within the community. The faculty’s success is visible through the number of well-trained marine scientists from Sorbonne University, excelling in the discipline internationally.

7. University of Porto

  • Degrees Offered: Undergraduate, Master’s, and PhD

The newly implanted Portuguese republican system created the University of Porto in 1911. Despite the challenge brought about by political unrest in Portugal, the university continues to thrive up to this day. Various disciplines gained ground and developed their research and teaching techniques in their respective departments.

The Faculty of Sciences or the Faculdade de Ciencias Universidade do Porto, traces its history to 1762 when the Nautical Class began. The university’s administration introduced developments and changes to the faculty. The improvements molded the Faculty of Sciences into the world-class department it is today.

The Faculty of Sciences provides various research and training facilities to improve the study of marine sciences. The quality of research and experts produced by the FCUP is comparable to larger schools worldwide. The University of Porto is among the upper brackets of international marine science universities.

best marine biology universities in europe

Marine biology focuses on studying life in the sea and other water environments. The health of animals in a marine environment and the state of the water itself can have a lasting impact on life on land, which is why studying marine biology is so important.

MSc in Biology, Aquatic Ecology
Lund University
Lund University
Lund, Sweden
This Master’s programme provides knowledge on current theories and models of aquatic ecosystems, the relation between watershed, atmosphere, lakes and streams, interactions between humankind and aquatic ecosystems, and water management. Practical training in laboratory and field methodology is also emphasised. Some of the courses contain week-long excursions where practical field studies are conducted; from hypotheses and preparations, via sampling, analysing samples and data, and finally writing a report and performing an oral presentation. –
MSc
Full-time
2 years
English
Campus

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Master in Marine Biology
University of Padova
University of Padova
Padua, Italy
The Master’s degree aims to train marine biologists with the skills needed for understanding key processes and patterns in marine and coastal ecosystems, for the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, and for the development of methods and technologies for the breeding of economically relevant commercial species. –
Master
Full-time
2 years
English
01 Oct 2022
Campus

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Master of Science in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management (Oceans and Lakes)
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Brussels, Belgium
This joint programme combines the expertise of three Belgian universities on aquatic systems. It not only offers you an insight into the complexity of life and processes in marine environments and lakes. But it also comprises management, policy, commercial aspects of aquatic ecosystems and law. This combination of disciplines makes it a unique programme in Europe. –
MSc
Full-time
2 years
English
19 Sep 2022
Campus

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Master in Coastal and Marine Management
University Centre of the Westfjords
University Centre of the Westfjords
Ísafjörður, Iceland
Master in Coastal and Marine Management is a cross-disciplinary resource management program that focuses on coastal and marine issues and mainly draws…

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Master
Full-time
Part-time
18 – 24 months
English
Campus

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Master of Science in Marine Sciences
Utrecht University
Utrecht University
Utrecht, Netherlands
As part of your two-year Master’s program in Marine Sciences, you will learn how marine systems and processes operate naturally – and how they change through human intervention. The program offers multidisciplinary cutting-edge information in this rapidly developing field. –
MSc
Full-time
2 years
English
Sep 2022
Campus

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Master in Marine Biotechnology
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Tromsø, Norway
The Marine Biotechnology program at UiT’s the Norwegian College of Fishery Science aims to educate candidates in the broad field of biotechnology with emphasis on application to marine systems or “Blue Biotechnology”. Students become well prepared for careers in industry and/or research because of our joint focus on innovation and fundamental scientific principles placed between biology and engineering. Students receive one-on-one mentorship and supervision from a professional UiT researcher and typically join an established research group to complete their final project. –
MSc
Full-time
2 years
English
Campus

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