Best Marine Biology Colleges
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5 Best Marine Biology Colleges in the US 2023 (Ultimate Guide)

The ocean is the largest natural habitat on Earth and it’s estimated to contain 97% of all life on the planet. It also contains over 95% of the world’s water, but alas for land dwellers, 98% of that water is saltwater. That means that when you go scuba diving or snorkeling in a coral reef, you’re seeing just 2%.

That small window into the ocean is part of what makes studying marine biology so exciting: every day offers another chance to explore something new about this fascinating underwater world! Yet despite how little we know about our oceans – even less than 1% has been explored – there are still many careers available in marine biology ranging from research and conservation to education and tourism.

After a thorough exploration of the career paths in marine biology, we have compiled an overview of the best colleges and universities to study marine biology in the United States. From New England’s coastlines to California’s sandy beaches, there are many incredible places for anyone interested in studying these mysterious waters!

Studying marine biology is a challenging, yet rewarding, career. But where should you go to study? There are many colleges in the United States that have programs in marine biology. Picking the right one can feel daunting.

In this article, we will summarize what these schools offer and help you find the one that meets your needs best!

How to Pick the Best Marine Biology College

What are the most important factors when picking a marine biology college? There are many factors that go into this choice. Some are more personal than others. For example, not everyone can afford a college with high tuition fees.

Others may not live close enough to their school. And for some, it’s a matter of wanting the best marine biology education possible.

Let’s see the determining factors in picking a marine biology college.

Research Opportunities

What the school offers in terms of research opportunities and faculty expertise. Research is a very important part of any marine biology degree, so this should be your first consideration when picking out schools.

You want to find a university with good professors that publish often and have strong connections in the field. This ensures you’ll be studying with people who practice what they preach.

We know so little about the ocean that new knowledge is bound to change the view we see it completely. You don’t want teachers stuck in old ways of thinking.

Quality Facilities

This is paramount for marine biology colleges. Many disciplines don’t need state-of-the-art equipment. But it is a crucial aspect of marine biology. For example, marine biology classrooms need tanks with live coral and fish.

You want to make sure that the facilities are up-to-date and well maintained. This ensures you’ll be studying in an environment conducive to learning.

The Ocean is a challenging place for humans – so it makes sense that those who study its creatures must have some of the best facilities.

You’ll need a laboratory with access to the ocean for performing research and plenty of aquatic life like fish.

Marine biology colleges should offer an on-site aquarium or lab where students can learn about specific organisms up close.

Does the school have quality facilities? You will spend a lot of time in the laboratory and on the water, so you want to make sure that your school has state-of-the-art equipment.

Teaching Methods

Different people learn in different ways, so this is a factor to consider when picking out colleges for marine biology. Some may prefer hands-on experiences, while others might like classroom lectures with occasional field trips.

You want to find the school that matches your learning style and needs! You can ask current or future marine biology students about their experiences with a school.

Career Opportunities

This is an important consideration for anyone considering going to college and taking on heavy debt. You want to make sure that you’ll be able to find employment after graduation. Some careers might require certification, which is not easily got if the occupation becomes obsolete in ten years.

That’s why you want to look for schools with career opportunities that match your interests. You might be more interested in marine conservation than education, so it makes sense to choose a college that specializes in these areas!


What is it like living there? Different universities offer different campus life; some are more urban, while others are near large bodies of water.

You want to pick a school that is in proximity to the sea. This allows you to actually do the research you will do at your daily job. Avoid marine biology colleges not located close to a body of water. You want your environment to be as conductive to learning as possible.

The School’s Graduation Rates

What is the school’s graduation rate? You want to find a university that will get you through your degree! Marine biology is no simple area of study, so it helps if there are professors and classmates who can help support you along the way.

The higher the graduation rates, the better the school. It means people get enough support to get through the program.

Editor’s note: To see this phenomenon in effect, look at open online colleges. They all have very low graduation rates. Allowing everyone in means some people will be neglected, because there aren’t enough resources for them.

Costs and Financial Aid

The most obvious factor. What are your financial needs? Are you able to afford a large tuition fee or does it matter if there’s an opportunity for scholarship money?

Your career as a marine biologist will be heavily contingent on your qualifications, so you want to make sure that you will afford your tuition.

However, remember that the best marine biology schools are often more expensive than others but provide a better education with top-notch facilities and research opportunities.

The 5 Best Marine Biology Colleges

Finding the right marine biology college is a hard task. Unlike other fields, marine biology has specific requirements for students to thrive in it. Top-notch equipment is more important than raw knowledge.

To make this list, we focused on the quality of each college’s research facilities. We also looked for a school with a high graduation rate.

1. University of Connecticut

The first-place college on this list is the University of Connecticut. The university has one of the best oceanographic research facilities in North America, and has produced many notable marine biologists. UConn’s oceanography program ranks among the top ten programs in the country, if not number one.

The marine biology faculty is on the Avery Point campus, on the shores of Long Island Sound. It’s a small campus, which comes with many advantages. Smaller classes mean more resources devoted to each student. It’s easier to get personal help from a professor when they don’t have to juggle tens of students.

The faculty is also very qualified, having won many awards for their research. They have a high graduate retention rate too, so students get the support they need to finish their degree.

If you’re looking for an excellent school with top-notch facilities and professors who are right on campus, look no further than UConn.

The major downside of studying here? The lack of on-campus housing. If you want to study at UConn you’ll have to find your own accommodation.

2. The University of North Carolina

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington offers a Bachelor degree in Marine Biology and Environmental Science, which has a curriculum that includes field work with local coastal communities.

The school offers a marine sciences minor, which you can then complete with a M.S. in marine sciences. It has a strong graduate program too, with PhD’s available in marine sciences.

Field research is at the heart of North Carolina’s university. If you are looking for an institution that practices what it preaches, look no further. The school conducts research on oceanography, marine biology, geochemistry, and other related fields.

The downside of this school is that it’s hard to make friends with people outside your major. The university has a sparse population, and many students often find themselves without company once they graduate.

There are also few on-campus jobs available for students who don’t want extra responsibilities while in college. It’s something worth considering before choosing UNC-W.

3. Oregon State University

Oregon State University is one of the best schools for marine biology, with a great program and well qualified professors. The programs offered here are among the most competitive in North America: you’ll need to put up your A game if you want to get accepted or pass classes.

The marine biology course at Oregon State University is unique in that it attracts students from all over the world. This means that the university has a diverse student population, with students coming from Mexico, China, and other countries.

There are many opportunities for undergraduate research available at Oregon State University. The professors also offer funding to study abroad and pursue field research as well. It’s hard to find this level of flexibility with other universities!

The university has many notable alumni, including Eva Godfrey -the first female to receive a PhD in Marine biology.

OSU has some of the best facilities for marine biology, with strong equipment and cutting edge technology available throughout the university.

The downside? The tuition is expensive at around $30k per year before financial aid or scholarships are applied. It’s not an option for those who can’t afford it.

4. Harvard University

Harvard is a huge name in the education space. The university has a biology of marine systems faculty through which it conducts marine research.

The institution offers a program called Integrative Biology. It’s extremely flexible, and lets students pick courses in many fields related to biology – including marine biology and biological oceanography.

The downside of Harvard is that it’s not for everyone. Harvard is one of, if not the most exclusive, university in the United States. It’s a brand name and there are only about 400 students admitted to this school each year. This makes it a tough school to get into.

Plus, it has a very high tuition, and the program is difficult to get into. This makes it more suitable for students who are already on their way in life, or those who have had some years at less rigorous schools under their belt.

5. University of California—San Diego

The University of California-San Diego is one of the oldest institutions in north America. The school was founded in 1960 to provide students with a research-based education close to the ocean.

The school offers marine biology courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels, however; it has a relatively small undergraduate population. This means that incoming freshman can expect smaller classes and more personalized attention from their professors.

Since this is a private school, they can also offer scholarships with little difficulty. UIe may also offer tuition discounts for students who have come from military families or those who have shown academic excellence throughout their high school careers. It’s worth applying for these scholarships early on!

The institution has some of the best technology available in North America, with the latest research equipment and groundbreaking technology available throughout campus.


If you’re looking for world-class education in marine biology, you can’t go wrong by picking one of this article’s colleges. You are setting yourself up for a long and successful career in the field.

Before applying though think about it. Are you 100% sure you want to become a marine biologist? It’s important to be sure, because you are investing a lot of time and money into becoming one.

Luckily for you, the courses themselves are centered on biology. So, even if you aren’t convinced, you are always in time to change study path. Biology is the basis of many academic courses, so you’ll be well-prepared for many other fields.

Many science programs start with a core curriculum which exposes students to many fields of study before they select their major area. For most, this means taking classes in math and the sciences and humanities courses like history or literature.

Water covers 71% of the earth’s surface. This is why opportunities exist in marine biology for students to do research that could develop into world changing discoveries.

The earth’s oceans are home to many habitats, from shallow waters like estuaries to deep abyssal plains, where pressures are unmeasured. The ocean has also seen changes over time because of increasing levels of pollution and acidification- allowing only certain bacteria or algae to survive in dissolved form. However, there is still much opportunity for those who want to pursue marine biology.

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