Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Marine Biology 2020

Marine biology and sciences prepares students for careers as aquarium technicians, environmental consultants, research assistants, marine engineers, naval architects, zoologists, and wildlife biologists. In fact, with a bachelor's-level education, students can earn a median salary of $63,420 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' information about 2018 wages. They can also become marine engineers, who had a median pay of $92,560 in 2018. On top of that, the field is expected to grow by 12% by 2026, which is faster than average.

When considering marine biology as a major, it is important to first consider the university's location. Field placements and other types of experiential learning are great for students to grow their knowledge of and ability to work with aquatic organisms, and if a university is on a coast, students have better access to marine-life field experiences. Additionally, students should also consider what types of study abroad options are available. Studying abroad in a marine biology program can expose students to different types of environments and creatures. Lastly, for those interested in graduate school, they should check to see if the university as an accelerated master's program. Now, check out the 15 Best Bachelor's Degrees in Marine Biology. 

Methodology

Best College Reviews provides degree rankings, such as the 15 Best Bachelor's Degrees in Marine Biology 2020, from carefully researched data sets published from government and non-profit organizations across the United States. Five primary factors affect how we rank degrees: 

– 25% Student Satisfaction 

– 30% Earning Potential 

– 15% Retention Data 

– 20% Affordability 

– 10% Acceptance Rates

For an in-depth breakdown of how we calculate each ranking, check out our Methodology page.  

#15 CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, MONTEREY BAY

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MARINE BIOLOGY

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Score: 82.0

California State University, Monterey Bay starts off the 15 Best Bachelor's Degrees in Marine Biology with its Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology. CSU focuses on applied learning and research while also capitalizing on its location in the Monterey Bay area to bring excellent education in marine biology. Students gain lab and field experience while in the program, and they benefit from the Moss Landing Marine Labs and other facilities on campus that promote research. At minimum, students must complete 76 units within marine biology, and they can choose from courses like Robotics for Ecological Research, Ocean Instrumentation Projects, and Science Policy and Management in the Marine Environment. 

Net Price: $11,233

 

#14 UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT HILO

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MARINE SCIENCE

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Score: 82.3

The University of Hawaii at Hilo offers a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science program that requires 120 credits of coursework for completion. This includes courses like Marine Debris in the Pacific, Marine Conservation, and Biological Oceanography. UH at Hilo has also seen great success, as students regularly travel to present research at national conferences. Additionally, many earn scholarships, and there is an 80% employment and graduate school placement rate. Examples of employers include the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Marine Fisheries Service, Kona Blue, Queen's Medical Center, the Hawaii Department of Education, and the Department of Land and Natural Resources. 

Net Price: $13,825

 

#13 ECKERD COLLEGE

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MARINE SCIENCE

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Score: 84.7

Eckerd College has a Bachelor of Science in Marine Science that capitalizes on the institution's location in Tampa Bay, as many classes are held on the water or aboard a university-owned vessel. Within this program, students can focus on Marine Biology, Marine Chemistry, Marine Geology, or Marine Geophysics. Students can also get involved with the Eckerd College Dolphin Project and the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences. Many also serve as research assistants in the Bahamas, the United States Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, and Panama. Graduates of this program have gone on to work for the Peace Corps, the World Wildlife Fund, and the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. 

Net Price: $33,918

 

#12 UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MARINE BIOLOGY

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Score: 84.9

The University of Washington emphasizes biodiversity, organismal process, and ecology and ecosystems in its Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology. All students also take part in an integrative field experience. In this program, students must earn at least 180 quarter credits in order to graduate. Students also benefit from labs and field trips that expose students to real-world, hands-on experience. UW also has a number of field laboratories, including Friday Harbor in the San Juan islands. Additionally, students can take courses that advance their interests within marine biology, including: Comparative Anatomy and Physiology of Marine Organisms; Marine Botany: Diversity and Ecology; and Hydrothermal Systems: An Interdisciplinary View. 

Net Price: $9,443

 

#11 NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MARINE BIOLOGY

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Score: 85.5

Northeastern University offers a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology. In this program, students receive a foundation in biological and marine sciences as well as within chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Upper-level marine biology courses include Ecological and Conservation Genomics, Coastal Ecology and Sustainability, Biology and Ecology of Fishes, and Sociology Biology. Then, students can complete upper-level coursework on campus or through the Three Seas Program. This program gives students access to unique fieldwork opportunities, and many students who take part in it also do internships with the Marine Science Center. In total, 136 credit hours of coursework are required for graduation. 

Net Price: $30,784

 

#10 CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY-LONG BEACH

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MARINE BIOLOGY

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Score: 86.5

California State University takes advantage of the many marine habitats in its location through its Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology. It ensures that students get distinct fieldwork experiences on bays, estuaries, beaches, rocky intertidal, and open water. These experiences are paired with training in data analysis and other hard skills necessary for a career in the sciences. CSU at Long Beach also offers its students a field station on Santa Catalina Island where they may spend a semester of study. This degree requires 120 credit hours of coursework, including courses like Research in Tropical Marine Ecology, Fish Physiology and Endocrinology, and Marine Microbiology. 

Net Price: $9,654

 

#9 UNIVERSITY OF NEW ENGLAND 

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MARINE SCIENCES

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Score: 86.8

The Bachelor of Science in Marine Sciences program at the University of New England and allows students to look broadly at the field of marine biology. However, students can also choose between two tracks to explore their interests further. These two tracks are Marine Biology and Oceanography. The BS requires 120 credit hours of coursework, including courses like Biology of Sharks, Skates, and Rays; Marine Conservation; and Experimental Animal Physiology. Students can also take part in a Global Education program, studying around the world. Additionally, students take part in an accelerated 4+1 BS/Master of Science in Marine Biology program in which they can earn both degrees in five years. 

Net Price: $33,204

 

#8 UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MARINE, ESTUARINE AND FRESHWATER BIOLOGY

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Score: 87.1

The University of New Hampshire allows students to explore the research behind aquatic life through its Bachelor of Science in Marine, Estuarine, and Freshwater Biology. At minimum, students must complete 96 credits within the department of biological sciences in addition to the liberal arts core curriculum. These courses include Aquatic Plants in Restoration/Management, Field Animal Behavior, and Ecology and Marine Environment. UNH also ensures that students have access to undergraduate student research in cutting edge facilities. Additionally, students are able to utilize the university's location in New England for fieldwork experience. An example of such practica is the Shoals Marine Laboratory on Appledore Island, a joint program offered with Cornell University. 

Net Price: $22,888

 

#7 UNIVERSITY OF MAINE

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MARINE SCIENCES

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Score: 87.7

The University of Maine offers a Bachelor of Science in Marine Sciences that gives students access to a variety of aquatic habitats, as well as the many sides to the marine industry. It requires 120 credit hours of coursework, which includes a senior thesis. Students can also choose from concentrations in Marine Biology, Marine Physical Sciences, and Aquaculture. Other courses include Oceanography, Marine Physics, and Critical Issues in Aquaculture. Additionally, UM is home to the Semester by the Sea program, which is a semester-long program at Darling Marine Center where students benefit from habitats in the Gulf of Maine. It is an experiential and field-based program that is designed to give students real-world experience. 

Net Price: $30,970

 

#6 OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN BIOLOGY WITHIN A MARINE BIOLOGY OPTION

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Score: 88.9

Oregon State University has a Bachelor of Science in Biology program that offers an option for Marine Biology. Students take 31 to 34 credits within the biology major, 15 of which are dedicated to the marine biology option. Students are required to do a one term residency at Hatfield Marine Science Center. During this time, they take the Marine Biology and Ecology course and conduct a research project. Other courses in the option include Pacific Northwest Coastal Ecosystems, Aquatic Biological Invasions, and Biological Oceanography. Additionally, U.S. News and World Report  has ranked OSU at No. 37 on the Most Innovative Schools list. 

Net Price: $30,141

 

#5 STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MARINE SCIENCES

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Score: 89.2

Stony Brook University offers a Bachelor of Sciences in Marine Sciences that begins with foundational coursework in biology, chemistry, and physics, specializing in how these courses interact with the ocean. Stony Brook also gives students opportunities for experiential learning through field placements, internships, and research in labs on campus and in a university field station. Some of the facilities from which students can benefit include the Marine Sciences Research Center and the Institute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres. With centers like these on campus, Overall, this major requires between 69 and 72 credits in addition to the liberal arts core curriculum for students to graduate. 

Net Price: $14,330

 

#4 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-LOS ANGELES

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MARINE BIOLOGY

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Score: 89.7

Students can earn their Master of Science in Marine Biology from the University of California at Los Angeles. In this program, students must take over 134 units of coursework to earn their degrees. This includes a Marine Biology Quarter, which is a field program to help students better understand marine life and systems. During this time, students are able to snorkel and scuba dive. Students can also do internships while in this program. UCLA is home to several research programs as well, including the Student Research Program, Howard Hughes Undergraduate Research Program, Minority Access to Research Careers, and several others. 

Net Price: $14,760

 

#3 UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHARLOTTE

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN BIOLOGY WITH A MINOR IN MARINE SCIENCES

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Score: 90.6

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte offers a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Marine Sciences that requires 123 credit hours. Twelve of these are in the minor, which includes courses like Geology of Beaches and Coats, Marine Ecology, Human Impacts on Estuarine Ecosystems, and Barrier Island Ecology and Geology. The minor is housed within the Department of Marine Sciences. UNC Charlotte also has the Institute of Marine Sciences and the Aquarium Research Center – or, the ARC. The ARC is geared toward ocean acidification/warming research, which has a plumbing system that copies coastal culturing facilities. 

Net Price: $11,100

 

#2 BOSTON UNIVERSITY

BACHELOR OF ARTS IN MARINE SCIENCE

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Score: 91.8

Boston University brings together biology, chemistry, physics, and oceanography through its Bachelor of Arts in Marine Science program to prepare students to work for a variety of commercial, educational, and nonprofit organizations. Included in this program is a Marine Semester, which is a four month-long, research-intensive program. During this time, students work on research at the New England Aquarium and even the Belizean Barrier Reef. Seventeen courses within the Marine Sciences major are required. Some examples are Marine Urban Ecology, Tropical Marine Invertebrates, and Bio-Optic Oceanography. Students can also conduct research as an undergraduate to gain extensive real-world experience. Additionally, students can earn honors within their major. 

Net Price: $33,728

 

#1 DUKE UNIVERSITY

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN BIOLOGY WITH A CONCENTRATION IN MARINE BIOLOGY

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Score: 100.00

At the top of this list is the Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Marine Biology program at Duke University. Within this degree, students learn more about the unique aspects of the sea and the intersections between the environment and marine life there. To graduate, students must take at least 10 courses in biology, in addition to the liberal arts core curriculum. Examples of these classes include Marine Ecology, Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles, and Biological Oceanography. Students can also take a Sojourn in Singapore: Urban Tropical Ecology course. Duke also encourages its students to complete independent study projects. 

Net Price: $22,011