The 10 Best Marine Biology Colleges in the US

6. University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA)

UC Santa Barbara
Coolcaesar, UCSB University Center and Storke Tower, CC BY-SA 4.0

One of the only colleges where undergrads can get a major in aquatic biology, the University of California, Santa Barbara, is a top choice for students seeking a broader aquatic education that encompasses not only marine organisms and oceanography, but also the study of freshwater ecosystems.

The uniqueness of the aquatic biology major sets up undergrads to enter a fulfilling career in conservation, fisheries, water quality, and more. On the other hand, many graduating students go on to complete a master’s education or join the PhD track. 

Either way, during their time at UC Santa Barbara, students will benefit from challenging science coursework complemented by field experience at outdoor labs that take learners into the Pacific Ocean, the Santa Barbara Channel, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and beyond.


5. Auburn University (Auburn, AL)

Auburn University
dregsplod, Auburn campus with Samford Hall, CC BY 2.0

Home to an expansive biological sciences department, Auburn University offers marine biology students the freedom to get involved with interdisciplinary research projects across campus and beyond. It’s not unusual for students to interact with local organizations like the Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit or the Auburn Group in Ecology, as well as international groups like the Organization for Tropical Studies.

Combining an academic science curriculum with cross-campus and real-world field research gives marine biology students at Auburn a head start cultivating their future careers. Key areas of focus at the program include marine evolution, genetics, ecological interactions, and much more. Wherever students choose to direct their focus, they will find passionate faculty members across the school who are eager to include undergrads in the exciting scientific work happening every day at Auburn.


4. Northeastern University (Boston, MA)

Northeastern University
Piotrus, Centennial Common, Northeastern University, CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the top 50 universities in the United States according to U.S. News & World Report, Northeastern University is known for its robust research opportunities, many of which emerge from the school’s significant research grants from the National Institute of Science.

Marine biology students at Northeastern will undoubtedly benefit from this substantial science funding. The school offers a marine biology bachelor’s degree, enabling students to graduate with a core foundation in marine sciences as well as specialized experience in their fields of interest – including the option to take a pre-veterinary track.

Northeastern is also known for its Three Seas Program, an elective option that lets marine biology students spend a year doing fieldwork in New England, Panama, and the U.S. Pacific Coast. 

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