Marine Biology School in Florida with Degree Program Summaries

Florida has about 15 schools that offer marine biology programs. Learn about the degree programs, tuition info and program options for 10 of the largest schools to make an informed education decision.

Essential Information

Students interested in learning about the animals and organisms that live in the ocean and other bodies of water can find programs at about 15 nonprofit postsecondary schools in Florida. This state offers marine biology degree programs at all levels, ranging from undergraduate certificates to doctoral degrees. Most programs provide students with access to marine life, aquarium systems, and research sites. Some provide the opportunity to participate in research projects or fieldwork experiences.

The following paragraphs highlight the programs at 10 of the largest of these schools, and the table provides a quick comparison of each school.

Barry University

Barry University in Miami has a bachelor's degree program in biology with a marine biology concentration. Classes cover environmental science, biology, genetics, oceanography and zoology. While studying, students have access to discipline-specific laboratories, a shared-equipment room, 2 greenhouses and a technologically-advanced aquarium system that has 182 freshwater tanks and 45 saltwater tanks. Additionally, students are able to participate in faculty-led research projects.

Florida Atlantic University (FAU)

Boca Raton's FAU has bachelor's, master's and PhD programs relevant to the marine biology field. The university also partners with the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in order to provide a variety of learning opportunities. At the undergraduate level, students can major in biology and choose electives relevant to marine biology. These electives may include aquatic plants, marine animals, aquatic microbiology and marine ecology.

In the master's program, students can also choose to focus on marine biology. The program consists of 36 credits, and students can choose to complete a thesis or a comprehensive exam. At the doctoral level, students can enroll a PhD in Integrative Biology program in order to study marine biology. Although some coursework is required, the program mainly focuses on marine biology research; each student must complete a dissertation to graduate.

Florida Institute of Technology (FIT)

This Melbourne-based school offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in marine biology that allow students to acquire hands-on training through the Vero Beach Marine Laboratory. In the bachelor's degree program, students complete introductory courses during the first 2 years and more specialized courses during the last 2 years. They learn about various marine animals and plants, oceanography and ecology.

A biology master's degree program with a marine biology concentration is also available; the curriculum requires 34 credits in coursework and a marine biology-focused thesis. Because certain faculty members conduct research in marine biology and molecular marine biology, students can also enroll in a PhD program in the field. PhD students participate in ongoing faculty projects and devise their curricula with the help of an advisor. In addition to coursework and research requirements, students must complete doctoral dissertations.

Florida International University (FIU)

Miami is home to this public university that offers a minor and bachelor's degree program in marine biology. To complete the minor, students must take 2 general biology courses and lecture and lab courses in marine biology and oceanography. In addition, students must choose 2 marine biology electives. Alternatively, students can earn a bachelor's degree in marine biology. The upper-level portion of the program includes marine biology electives that are taught at the school's Biscayne Bay campus. These classes cover fish biology, coral reef biology, aquatic geology, marine plants, marine ecology and oceanography.

Students can also earn a master's and/or PhD degree in biological sciences and focus their curricula in biological oceanography. Graduate-level classes that are relevant to marine biology allow students to study marine ecology, physiology of marine microorganisms, complex fisheries science and biological oceanography. In addition to coursework, graduate students can expect to complete research studies and field investigations.

Florida State University (FSU)

FSU in Tallahassee offers students several opportunities to study marine biology. Undergraduate students can complete a certificate program in marine biology, which only accepts 14 students annually. The program requires students to complete 16 credits, which may be obtained from classes like Florida marine conservation and biodiversity, coastal ecology, coral reefs and ecology. Hands-on training is obtained through a summer internship or seminar. Students in the program may benefit from resources offered by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Estuarine Research Reserves and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Additionally, some classes are held at the FSU Coastal and Marine Laboratory in St. Teresa

Students can earn a bachelor's degree in biological science and choose a concentration in marine biology. All students interested in this track should complete an introductory marine biology course, and the department also encourages students to complete an ecology and conservation biology course. Other electives may include labs, lectures and/or seminars that cover marine conservation, marine biodiversity, technical diving, oceanography, prokaryotic biology and fish biology. Master's degree and PhD programs in biological sciences may also interest students. These programs are divided into 3 areas, including one in ecology and evolutionary biology; this area includes a research specialization in marine biology.

Students may be able to participate in research studies conducted at the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory, the Coleman and Koenig Research Laboratory or the Center for Aquatic Research and Resource Management. Biological science majors may also qualify for various scholarships awarded by the department.

Nova Southeastern University

This private university, located in Fort Lauderdale, also offers multiple marine biology degree programs. In the marine biology bachelor's degree program, students take foundational science classes like biology, chemistry, physics and genetics. Students can choose electives that are based in the classroom and in the field. Fieldwork classes may take students to the Everglades, the Amazon and/or the Galapagos Islands.

The Master of Science in Marine Biology program requires applicants to have bachelor's degrees in a related field like biology or oceanography. Students complete classes like physical oceanography, biostatistics, marine ecology and aquatic geology. Research may be required, as well as a thesis or capstone research project. A doctorate program that focuses on marine biology is also available to qualified students with relevant bachelor's or master's degrees. In their 5 years of full-time (or 9 years of part-time) study, students conduct independent research in a sub-field of marine biology and develop a dissertation.

University of Central Florida (UCF)

UCF, which is the largest of all the universities with marine biology programs, is based in Orlando. Students can earn bachelor's degrees in biology and select electives that emphasize marine biology. Some of these electives may include tropical marine science, zoo/aquarium administration, Florida marine biology and oceanography. Some of the marine biology research facilities that UCF is associated with include the Archie Carr Sea Turtle House, the UCF Experimental Ponds and the Fellers House Field Station.

University of Miami

The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami in Coral Gables has a master's and PhD program for students who want to study marine biology. Applicants to either program need at least bachelor's degrees. Both programs require students to conduct research; however, doctoral students can expect to complete research on a more extensive scale. Wide flexibility is given to graduate students when selecting their coursework and research topics, but classes may cover tropical marine environments, aquatic organism diseases, oceanography and ecological conservation. While completing the program, students may be able to work in research facilities like the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, the Marine and Freshwater Biomedical Science Center or the experimental hatchery.

University of Tampa (UT)

Students in Tampa can enroll in a minor or bachelor's degree program in marine biology at this university. The bachelor's program is grounded in practical training through laboratory courses, field work and travel abroad opportunities. Courses cover topics in marine chemistry, aquatic plants, coral reefs, marine conservation and marine environments. A significant portion of the faculty conducts research in the field, and students may be able to participate in these studies.

University of West Florida (UWF)

Pensacola-based students can attend this university and earn bachelor's degrees in marine biology. The curriculum includes foundational biology, chemistry, physics and calculus classes. The marine biology core courses include biochemistry, microbiology, ecology and genetics. Students can choose electives in areas of fish biology, oceanography, estuarine ecology, marine ecology and marine animals. Because the campus is in close proximity to various wetlands and the Gulf of Mexico, students can expect to receive hands-on training.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Marine Biology Degree Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)
Barry University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Biology - Marine Biology $28,800*
Florida Atlantic University 4-year, public; small city Bachelor of Science in Biology,
Master of Science in Biology,
Doctor of Philosophy in Integrative Biology
$4,831 in-state, $17,276 out-of-state*
Florida Institute of Technology 4-year, private not-for-profit; small city Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences - Marine Biology,
Master of Science in Biological Sciences - Marine Biology,
Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences
$39,290*
Florida International University 4-year, public; large suburb Minor in marine biology,
Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology,
Master of Science in Biological Sciences,
Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences
$6,556 in-state, $18,954 out-of-state*
Florida State University 4-year, public; midsized city Certificate in Marine Biology,
Bachelor of Science in Biological Science,
Master of Science in Biological Science,
Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Science
$6,507 in-state, $21,673 out-of-state*
Nova Southeastern University 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology,
Master of Science in Marine Biology,
Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Biology/Oceanography
$27,660*
University of Central Florida 4-year, public; large suburb Bachelor of Science in Biology $6,368 in-state, $22,467 out-of-state*
University of Miami 4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb Master of Science in Marine Biology and Ecology,
Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Biology and Ecology
$34,248 (graduate tuition and fees)*
The University of Tampa 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Minor in marine biology,
Bachelor of Science in Marine Science Biology
$27,044*
The University of West Florida 4-year, public; small city Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology $6,360 in-state, $19,241 out-of-state*

Source: *NCES, College Navigator.


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