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Best Marine Science and Marine Biology Programs: List of Top Schools

Find out which top schools offer degree programs in marine science or marine biology in this lesson. Learn about the academic options at three leading institutions, and check out a brief summary of what other schools in the U.S. have programs for marine biologists and scientists.

Marine Biology & Science Programs

Marine biology and marine science are fields of study that examine marine plants and animals in their native habitats and/or the physical attributes of marine environments. In a marine biology or science program, students can earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A. or A.B.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Some universities may offer a combined study program of the two fields. In this video, we'll take a look at three specific schools that offer marine biology and/or marine science degrees: a national university, a private college, and a public sea-grant college. Each of the three schools offers specialized undergraduate programs in marine biology or marine science, with students at Duke University being able to pursue a doctoral degree. In addition, a brief discussion of a few other schools and their programs will also be included.

Three Top Schools

The top three schools we'll cover in this video are Duke University, Boston University, and the University of Maine.

1. Duke University in Durham, NC

In 2014, U.S. News & World Report ranked Duke University 8th among national universities. This university's Biology Department, which has more than 45 research laboratories, offers a B.S. and an A.B. in biology with a specialization in marine biology. Students in both degree programs take courses in math, chemistry, and ecology, as well as electives in microbiology or other related subjects.

The Duke Department of Marine Science and Conservation offers a Ph.D. with a concentration in marine biology or marine conservation biology and policy. Students in the marine conservation biology and policy track receive training in natural and social sciences. Both of these doctoral tracks place a program emphasis on research.

2. Boston University in Boston, MA

Boston University (BU) is a private college that made the Princeton Review's 'The Best 380 Colleges' in 2016, as well as the Best Regional Colleges List in the same year. BU's College of Arts and Sciences offers a B.A. in marine science. Once enrolled, students take courses in marine geology and biology and complete a chemistry, physics, and statistics core. They also participate in a mandatory, 4-course marine semester, through which they can study the sensory biology and tropical oceanography of the Caribbean Sea. Students who pursue the minor in marine science take a total of five courses in marine biology, offered through the Department of Biology, Department of Environment and Earth Sciences, and Department of Geography. In addition, the college's Marine Science Association offers lectures and social opportunities for marine science students.

3. The University of Maine in Orono, ME

The University of Maine (UM) is a designated sea-grant college that houses one of the oldest Honors Colleges in the United States. UM's School of Marine Sciences offers a B.S. in marine science with a specialization in marine biology, aquaculture, or physical ocean sciences. During their junior or senior year, students can participate in a semester-by-the sea residential program at the Darling Marine Center. Students explore the habitats of the Gulf of Maine while learning about marine ecology and the biology of marine invertebrates.

Other Top Schools

There are a variety of different schools throughout the U.S. that offer degrees in marine biology and marine science:

School Name Distinction Location
Eckerd College St. Petersburg, FL Marine science program includes hands-on courses
Oregon State University Corvallis, OR Majors and minors in marine biology available
University of Hawaii at Hilo Hilo, HI College of Arts and Sciences offers a specialized marine biology laboratory course
University of New England Biddeford, ME Marine sciences program prepares students for positions in education and governmental laboratories
University of New Hampshire Durham, NH Marine program provides unique undergraduate internship opportunities
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC Marine sciences graduate program offers six areas of specialization
University of Tampa Tampa, FL Has a 45-foot research vessel for the study of marine ecosystems


Interested students may earn a B.A., A.B., B.S., or a Ph.D. in marine biology and marine science from a number of different universities across the U.S., including: Duke University where there are more than 45 research laboratories, Boston University which features a dedicated Marine Science Association, or the University of Maine which allows students to specialize in marine biology, aquaculture, or physical ocean studies.

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