Master's in Marine Biology Requirements

Those interested in a career that involves working with marine life or in marine research might find a Master's Degree in Marine Biology useful. This article explains what you can expect as a student in a master's degree program in marine biology. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How to Earn a Master's Degree in Marine Biology

Students typically complete these degree programs in two years, and depending on the program, may choose from applied (focus on skills and experience) or thesis-focused (mentored) programs. While every master's degree program in marine biology has its own requirements, commonly students will require at least a bachelor's degree to enter these programs, where they will learn about oceanography, corals and sustainability.


In this class, students learn about how chemical and biological processes affect the ocean and mammals in the ocean. Depending on the school, this course might focus on physical processes, like ocean heat budgets, or the chemistry of seawater. You may find chemical oceanography, physical oceanography, or geological oceanography as course options, or some combination of each may be required.

Biology of Corals

This course looks at the anatomy and population of corals. Students also learn about the work of biologists and physiologists who study corals. Course content may also include study of organisms in a coral reef ecosystem and conservation efforts. Students learn about marine biologists' efforts to help coral reefs survive and thrive.

Marine Science Field Methods

This course introduces students to the methods of field research in marine biology. Experiment design, techniques, and use of underwater equipment are all covered in this type of course. Students may also learn methods for ship-based research.

Ocean Sustainability

This course explores how marine biologists can create programs in systems management to encourage resilience in the ocean. As an interdisciplinary course, students look at the impact of climate change as well as the political and economic aspects of sustainability. This class helps students to look for inventive solutions to issues in coastal sustainability.

Marine Chemistry

This course explores how chemicals are distributed throughout a marine environment. Students learn how a variety of chemicals reach to biological and physical processes in the environment.

Admission Requirements for a Master of Science in Marine Biology

A student who wants to pursue a Master of Science in Marine Biology will need to meet certain prerequisites. A bachelor's degree in a science-related field - usually earth science, biology, or physical science - is a must. Students must also submit the results of their Graduate Record Examination, and recommendation letters. Most master's degree programs in marine biology require that an applicant has a grade point average of 3.0 in undergraduate studies.

Careers in Marine Biology

Aquarium Coordinator

An aquarium coordinator oversees the care of aquatic animals and supervises staff members in day-to-day operations. They may work with aquarium executives to plan for expansion of aquatic collections, and may be involved in all phases of new exhibits, from choosing those exhibits to installing and opening them. An aquarium coordinator is also involved in documenting operations and record-keeping.

Marine Biologist

Marine biologists may assist in the collection of specimens, or they could work in labs, especially if they're interested in coral propagation. Although entry-level positions typically require a bachelor's degree to work in a lab, there are options for those with Master's Degrees in Marine Biology to move into higher level investigative positions, or research positions.

Fishery Biologist Scientist

In this position, professionals assist in specific programs at commercial and recreational fisheries. They analyze data, draft technical papers and work to enhance or clarify existing documentation. Individuals who have a master's degree are often preferred over those with a bachelor's degree.

Restoration Ecologist

Part of this job involves monitoring areas of natural disturbance to determine which is of the highest priority for restoration projects. A restoration ecologist may also be responsible for reviewing projects to ensure that they meet local, state, and federal ordinances. While this job often starts with a combination of a bachelor's degree and experience in water quality planning or research, individuals with a master's degree in marine science can also apply without that experience.

Job TitleMedian SalaryJob Growth
Aquarium Coordinator $60,000** 8%*
Marine Biologist $51,538** 5%*
Fishery Scientist$52,700** 5%*
Restoration Ecologist $50,068** 8%*

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **,

Marine biology is more than studying and working with fish. The field includes learning about everything in the marine environment, how chemical processes and physical processes interact, and how humans can affect the ocean in both positive and negative ways.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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