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Marine Biology PhD Programs in California

Doctoral programs in the field of marine biology are available at different universities around the country, including a few in the state of California. This article highlights three of these programs by covering admission standards and any unique attributes about the programs.

Students who are interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in marine biology have a few options to choose from if they wish to enroll in a university in California. Below, this article will focus on three Ph.D. programs in marine biology and will highlight what makes each program unique, as well as what types of requirements students will have to fulfill in order to qualify for admission.

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PhD Programs for Marine Biologists in California

University of California San Diego - Scripps Institution of Oceanography

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography, part of the University of San Diego, offers a Ph.D. program in Ocean Biosciences, in which students can select to pursue the Marine Biology curriculum. This curriculum area is then further split into two tracks - marine biology and marine chemical biology. Within both of these tracks, students are required to take three core courses in physical oceanography, marine chemistry, and biological oceanography. Students then fulfill the remaining required units by taking elective courses. After completing coursework, students then begin work on their doctoral thesis under the advisement of a faculty member and dissertation committee. Some research areas that may be undertaken by doctoral candidates include parasitology, photobiology, deep-sea biology, and conservation of marine ecosystems to name a few options.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California offers a Ph.D. in Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography. In this program, students are required to complete five core courses that cover topics in oceanography, evolution, marine organisms, scientific writing, and oceanographic instrumentation. Students must also complete several seminar courses, two of which focus on general topics in marine biology while the third and fourth focuses on a more advanced topic in the field. In addition, students must also complete two semesters as teaching assistants in the biological sciences department and write and defend an original doctoral dissertation.

University of California Santa Barbara

The University of California Santa Barbara offers a Ph.D. degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology which may be of interest to students in California. This program requires that students complete two courses that focus on the levels of biological organization to provide them with foundational knowledge to prepare them for further graduate study. Students must also complete at least two quarters of teaching assistantship in order to gain experience teaching and a new student seminar course. Beyond that, the curriculum of this program is flexible and allows students to take graduate level courses across different disciplines. Within three years of enrolling in the program, students are expected to complete an oral exam, after which they can advance to doctoral candidacy.

Admission Standards for PhD Programs in Marine Biology

When applying for a Ph.D. program in marine biology, it is typically expected that students have either a bachelor's or master's degree in a field of earth, physical, or biological sciences. Some programs may also consider students who have backgrounds in fields like engineering or mathematics as long as they have taken enough prerequisite courses. When applying to these programs, students will need to submit any past academic transcripts, a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and results from the GRE examination. Some programs may set a minimum GPA or GRE requirement that students will need to meet in order to be considered for admission.

To summarize, there are a few options for students seeking doctoral programs in marine biology in the state of California. These programs combine coursework, teaching assistantships, and original research leading to a doctoral dissertation.


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