Best Colleges for Marine Biology

Best Colleges for Marine Biology

Everyday We Learn New Things About Life in the Great Blue Sea. Which is why studying marine biology can be so exciting!  

marine bioloy
Image Courtesy of Sea Trek.

Are you interested in Sea Life, studying where different sea creatures come from and how the oceanic environment differs from the everyday land we live on? Then studying Marine Biology is an excellent major for you. Along with having the opportunity to explore the various marine life creatures, you are also provided the chance to study out on boats along with marine labs.

If this sounds interesting, you have come to the right place to learn more information. As you continue reading, you will learn more about what marine biology is, why you should study it, as well as about what some of the best colleges are, and what careers you have to look forward to looking into.

What is Marine Biology?

Now, as you should be aware, biology studies all living organisms. A few areas that they study involve organisms' anatomy, physiology, behavior, and origin. Now take what you know about biology and consider the effects that these areas have on all living things from underwater. 

Marine Biology is “the study of marine organisms, their behaviors, and interactions with the environment.” Like biologists for land organisms, marine biologists study the oceanography surrounding where the organism comes from to better understand the organisms' particular environments and the individual marine organisms themselves.

marine science
Under the sea, there is a whole other world to explore, and only a fraction of it has been seen. 

Reasons Why You Should Study Marine Biology

Why should I study marine biology? It sounds like you're studying living things in the ocean as a marine biologist. Aside from exploring the general life of living marine animals, the major can be broken down into the following subcategories:

   Microbiology - Studying microorganisms such as bacteria and algae, to name a few. What are they, and what role do they play in the oceanic environment?

  Fisheries and Aquaculture - This field breaks down even further. But its main focus is to study how we can protect biodiversity and create sustainable seafood.

   Environmental Marine Biology - The general study of the ocean and its health.

   Deep Sea Ecology - Due to how deep the ocean is, scientists have to use technological gadgets to explore the deep unknown.

deep sea creatures
With the help of technological inventions, scientists can gather images of deep sea creatures such as this that appear to take on an alien appearance to us. Image courtesy of The Wild Focus Project.

  Ichthyology - This studies fish that are both salt and freshwater species.

  Marine Mammalogy - the study of most interest to new marine biologists. This studies all sea mammals such as whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, walruses, etc.

  Marine Ethnology - How scientists can better understand how marine animals inhabit the planet alongside us.

After learning about the subcategories, you can specialize in, let's dive deeper into why you should study marine biology. As you may know, as humans, we have always found the ocean to be a particular interest of study. Still, with the planet being as big as it is, it is estimated that only five percent of our oceans have been explored up until now, despite seventy-one percent of the earth being covered by water.

Some of the other factors that play a role in marine biologists' interest in studying the ocean and how it impacts life on this planet include the following:

  • The health of the ocean and planet. 

When we talk about this, we are talking about issues such as climate change and pollution from dumping and runoff impacting the sea. We also need to consider how we as humans have unintentionally destroyed many coral reefs that used to be so much bigger ten, fifteen, or even twenty years ago compared to how they are now.

  • Human health.

            This gets us talking about air quality and how various toxins have begun entering the oceans, impacting the sea life, the fish we eat, and our lives on earth.

  • Sustainability and biodiversity. 

            We are guilty of causing problems throughout history. This is due to overfishing and driving species to go extinct, leading to implications on the food chain. It is all about choice and shows the cause-and-effect chain.

deep sea fishing
Above is an example showing how humans and birds compete with one another for fish and how the competition for fish can cause a decline of that species in an area, impacting both the environment and the food chain they are a part of. Image courtesy of Human Environmental Interactions.

  • Finally, research and product development. 
  • Like many other organisms and ecosystems on earth, we rely on using marine life for pharmaceuticals and a potential alternative energy source.

Now that you know about the different subcategories of marine biology and some of the reasons why you should study it, continue reading to learn about some of the best colleges for marine biology and the career fields you can enter after you obtain a degree in it.

Best Colleges for Marine Biology Major and Oceanography Majors

With so many universities out there, how should you go about picking the right fit? As you continue, you will be able to learn about a few of the best universities for marine biology and oceanography majors that are available to you here in the United States. Don’t forget to keep in mind that you should make sure to tour whatever school(s) you may get accepted to before officially declaring the school you are going to; this is the place that you will be calling home for at least the next four, if not more, years of your life.

Brown University

At Brown University, students work closely with their professors to study the marine environment both at sea and in labs, where they can use equipment to examine samples of algae, microbes further, and other aquatic microorganisms found throughout the ocean. Image courtesy of Brown University.

Brown University students focus their studies on individual organisms, their genes, populations, and the level they fall within their communities. In addition, marine biologists will look closely at the organisms' locomotion and the ecology of marine animals and their terrestrial communities. Like Biology Majors, Marine Biology students can study living and extinct organisms, focusing on marine microbes, plants and algae, marine invertebrates, and marine mammals.

University of California Los Angeles [UCLA]

deep sea dive
Here students are allowed to study marine life up close, one of the advantages that marine biology majors have with the university being located approximately thirty minutes away from the Pacific Ocean. Image courtesy of the University of California Los Angeles.

Marine Biology studies marine organisms in their environment. One of the best student opportunities that are provided within the university is their required MBQ [Marine Biology Quarter]. The program permits undergraduates to create research projects, study, and conduct experiments. Another fun tidbit is that prior undergraduates have had their research published in major peer-reviewed journals.

Northeastern University

Science class on the rocks
Hands-on experience is the best way for students to gain experiences they will use in their everyday careers after graduating. Image courtesy of Northeastern University College of Science.

Northeastern University College of Science

Students majoring in Marine Biology are allowed to study at the Marine Science Center, which plays an active role in student's education here at the university—also referred to as the MSC by individuals as a part of the university's college of science. This is located at East Point in Nahant Massachusetts located only five miles north-northeast of the Boston Harbor. Here students are given several research opportunities such as climate change and ocean acidification, behavioral and evolutionary ecology, and coastal marine ecology, to name a few. 

The university's partnership with the Marine Science Center allows students to have a four to eight-month experience within the industry and the chance to get hands-on work with state-of-the-art technology in research lab work and marine robotics.

Individuals unable to go straight to the university are given a chance to apply for the IDEA internship, otherwise known as [The Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Advancement in the Marine Sciences]. In addition, they connect with students at two to four-year colleges in the Boston Metro and North Shore areas; offering paid research opportunities at the university's Marine Science Center.

Careers in the Marine Biology Field

After having read about what marine biology is and the various subcategories, along with having looked at a few of the best colleges that provide marine biology majors with several great opportunities, let's continue to discuss some of the careers that one can look forward to after they have obtained their degree.

marine biology
The work you will complete as a marine biologist is essential both in and out of the water. Image courtesy of The Tarrant Lab.

Unlike many other careers, not just anyone with a degree can decide to work in a marine biology career field. The following eight jobs that are BEST specifically for marine biologists include:

  • Aquatic Biologist
  • Research Biologist
  • Biologist
  • Botanist
  • Horticulturist
  • Microbiologist
  • Biological Technician

If none of these fit your interest, a couple of other fields you may consider going into include:

  • Mathematics
  • Becoming a Geneticist
  • Biology Professor

It’s Up to You!

As you can see, there are many pros to being a marine biologist and reasons you should consider the field. We won’t tell you what to choose but keep in mind that the possibilities are endless and the choice is yours.

Jessie Saalberg
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