What Are the Top 3 Marine Biology Schools?

Learn what degree programs and research opportunities might be available to you at three of the top marine biology schools. Get information about facilities and labs as well as school rankings to decide which school is right for you. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are Some Characteristics of Top Marine Biology Schools?

Top schools may have boats and research laboratories to support your studies; you might be trained as a diver in order to conduct underwater research. Good schools may receive federal support from the National Science Foundation or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. You should consider attending a school whose faculty members have been published in academic journals and are recognized as leaders in the field.

What Are Three Top Marine Biology Schools?

State University of New York in Stony Brook

Stony Brook was tied for 32nd-ranked top public school and for 80th best national university, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2019. Stony Brook hosts one of the federal Sea Grant programs administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. At the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS), you could major in oceanic sciences, marine sciences or marine vertebrate biology. You could pursue undergraduate research opportunities with faculty in Stony Brook or study tropical marine ecology in Jamaica. Paid summer research opportunities are available. Prospective graduate students may pursue a master's degree in marine conservation or marine sciences; doctoral programs in marine and atmospheric sciences are also available.

With federal National Science Foundation funding, SoMAS conducts marine research programs in the Arctic, the coastal waters of Venezuela and the Chesapeake Bay. The Living Marine Resources Institute and the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science are two of several research institutes.

Other facilities include the Southampton Marine Station with ocean-going and smaller vessels, the Flax Pond Marine Laboratory, the Marine Animal Disease Laboratory and the Coastal Ocean Action Strategies Institute. The Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Information Center contains extensive resources for student and faculty research. The following marine biology-related degrees are available:

  • B.S. in Marine Sciences
  • B.S. in Marine Vertebrate Biology
  • B.S. in Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences
  • M.A. in Marine Conservation and Policy
  • M.S. in Marine Sciences
  • Ph.D. in Marine Sciences

Texas A&M University in Galveston

The school's Marine Biology Department offers an undergraduate degree program in marine biology, with opportunities for field studies, lab work and research in the semitropical climate of Galveston Bay, as well as at various international marine sites.

In addition, six departments at Texas A&M campuses in Galveston, College Station and Corpus Christi collaboratively offer an interdisciplinary graduate program in marine biology under the umbrella of the Department of Oceanography in College Station. The Galveston campus hosts the program; master's thesis and non-thesis options are available, as is a marine biology doctoral program.

Research programs are run from Galveston, each with associated lab facilities. Programs for sea turtles and fisheries, marine invertebrates, marine mammal research and behavior ecology are a few examples. Research facilities taking advantage of diverse environments at Fort Crockett, Pelican Island and Offatts Bayou are available. Students learn how to maintain ocean vessels at the Texas Maritime Academy. Texas A&M's Texas Institute of Oceanography at Galveston provides seed funds for research projects on marine life. Available degrees include:

  • B.S. in Marine Biology
  • M.S. in Marine Biology
  • Ph.D. in Marine Biology

University of Hawaii (UH) in Manoa

The University of Hawaii at Manoa tied for 80th among U.S. News & World Report's 2019 top public schools. Through UH's School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), graduate students may specialize in marine biology as part of a master's or doctoral program in botany, microbiology, oceanography or zoology.

SOEST hosts the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology; students and faculty have access to acres of coral reef. The federal National Science Foundation-funded Pacific Biosciences Research Center includes the Kewalo Marine Laboratory. UH owns ocean-going watercraft, smaller boats and submersibles; you could receive training in scuba diving and underwater surveying techniques. The following marine biology-related degrees are available:

  • M.S. in Marine Biology
  • M.S. in Oceanography
  • Ph.D. in Marine Biology
  • Ph.D. in Oceanography

10 More Schools with Marine Biology Programs

College/University Institution Type LocationEstimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
California State University - Monterey Bay 4-year, Public Seaside, CA$8,500
Duke University 4-year, Private Durham, NC$55,000
University of Oregon 4-year, Public Eugene, OR$17,000
University of Alaska 4-year, Public Fairbanks, AK$12,000
Nova Southeastern University 4-year, Private Fort Lauderdale, FL$20,500
Rutgers University - New Brunswick 4-year, Public New Brunswick, NJ$19,000
Western Washington University 4-year, Public Bellingham, WA$11,000
Hawaii Pacific University 4-year, Private Honolulu, HI$19,000
Savannah State University 4-year, Public Savannah, GA$5,000
Northwest Missouri State University 4-year, Public Maryville, MO$6,000

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

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