Colleges with Marine Conservation Programs: How to Choose

Marine conservation is typically taught at the graduate level, with programs offering courses in both natural and social sciences. These programs teach a multidisciplinary science in which marine biology, ecology and oceanography are used to influence marine conservation law, policy and economic practices.

Individuals working toward a career in marine conservation can find programs at 4-year colleges and universities. These programs may be interdisciplinary and can offer courses in marine biology and zoology, in addition to courses in marine management, economics and policy.

Schools with Marine Conservation Programs

The following public and private institutions offer programs in the field:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees*
University of California San Diego La Jolla, CA 4-year, Public Master's Graduate, 2016-2017: $38,000 (includes health insurance)
University of Miami Coral Gables, FL 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's Graduate, 2016-2017: $60,529 (includes health insurance)
University of North Carolina, Wilmington Wilmington, NC 4-year, Public Bachelor's Undergrad, 2015-2016: $6,691 (In-state), $20,557 (Out-of-state)
University of Hawaii at Hilo Hilo, HI 4-year, Public Master's Graduate, 2015-2016: $11,148 (In-state), $24,996 (Out-of-state)

Sources: *School websites, National Center for Education Statistics

College Selection Criteria

The following are considerations when choosing a marine conservation program:

  • Students should choose a program offering the courses that will be most beneficial to their desired career.
  • A school that has marine conservation labs and is in close proximity to marine habitats is beneficial for would-be biologists.
  • Students may also want to choose a program that has a focus on professional and career development, such as opportunities for internships and courses that teach practical skills including data analysis, diving, or small boat operation.
  • Students may wish to look into study-abroad programs if there are particular geographic locations they would like to work in.

Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology

Undergraduate programs in marine biology may or may not allow students to concentrate in marine conservation. Electives may also be tailored toward marine conservation in some programs. Depending on the institution, students may also have to opportunity to participate in on-site marine research projects and study-abroad programs.

Master's Degree in Marine Conservation

A master's degree program takes about one year of full-time study to complete. The curriculum is usually customizable, allowing students to focus on their professional goals and areas of interest. However, many require the student to complete both an internship and a capstone project or independent study course prior to graduation.

Most degree programs in marine conservation are available at the master's level, but some schools offer bachelor's degree programs in marine biology with a concentration or emphasis on conservation. Students may want to consider things like internship opportunities and potential career paths when selecting a school.


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