Marine Biology Graduate Schools with Program Information

Marine biology programs instruct students in the complexities of marine ecosystems, marine organisms and these organisms' interactions within the environment. A graduate degree program in marine biology can prepare a student to conduct research or lab work for the government, engage in conservation or natural resource management work or teach undergraduate students.

Graduate programs in marine biology can be found at 4-year colleges and universities. Many marine biology schools are located near a body of water or affiliated with a marine biology institution, which can be provide students with practical learning opportunities.

Top Biology Schools with Marine Science Programs

The schools listed below were included in U.S. News & World Report's 2014 rankings of the top graduate biological sciences programs in the country:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Graduate Tuition Rates (2016-2017)*
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, Private Doctorate $48,140
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, Private Master's, Doctorate $47,331 for 11-18 units, $30,780 for 8-10 units
University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, Public Ph.D. $13,510 (includes fees)
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 4-year, Private Doctorate $45,320
Duke University Durham, NC 4-year, Private Doctorate $37, 250

Sources: *School websites

Graduate School Selection Criteria

The hands-on nature of a marine biology degree means that there are some practical considerations for students when picking the right school and program:

  • Students might first wish to consider a college's proximity to marine environments, since schools located near a body of water can provide them with easy access to the subjects studied in the field.
  • Some institutions own boat fleets that students can use for exploration and aquariums for observation; they might also offer dive programs for interactive study.
  • Some marine biology graduate schools offer financial incentives, stipends and teaching opportunities to graduate students.
  • Some schools have links and associations with marine laboratories and local aquariums, which may improve students' internship opportunities.

Master's Degree Programs

Master's degree programs in marine biology focus on the collection, care and feeding of live marine organisms. These programs tend to focus on research, and students in them are expected to write a thesis exploring a new area of marine biology based on supporting laboratory work and analysis. A master's degree curriculum may also include classes in SNP analysis, marine chemistry, toxicology and pharmacology, metagenomics and microarray technology.

Doctoral Degree Programs

Doctoral degree programs are often geared towards research and policy studies. They prepare graduates for careers in government, academia and research laboratory work. The curriculum may include approximately 80 graduate-level credit hours of study. A significant amount of work in these programs revolves around conceptualizing and producing a dissertation. Students may also need to complete a teaching experience.

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a marine biology graduate program, which can be found at a wide range of private and public schools. Students may want to seek out schools that have strong connections with marine science institutions and are located relatively close to large bodies of water.

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