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Marine Biology

Department Overview

Marine biology involves the study of life processes of organisms inhabiting the ocean's environments, drawing on courses offered by Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, Oceanography, and Friday Harbor Laboratories. The degree program integrates core material on marine aspects of biodiversity, organismal processes, and ecology and ecosystems, examining their relationship with physical processes and ocean changes. Graduates are prepared for careers in management agencies at the local to international levels, environmental consulting, non-profit organizations, and a range of educational settings.

Undergraduate Program

116 Fishery Sciences Building, Box 355020

Marine Biology offers the following programs of study:

  • Bachelor of Science, with a major in marine biology
  • Minor in marine biology

Bachelor of Science

Suggested First- and Second-Year College Courses: Recommended courses for first-year students: FISH 250/OCEAN 250/ BIOL 250; English composition; calculus; CHEM 120 and OCEAN 295; BIOL 180. Recommended courses for second-year students: OCEAN 210, BIOL 200, and FISH 270/OCEAN 270/MARBIO 270; Q SCI 381, MARBIO 305.

Department Admission Requirements

Students in good academic standing may declare this major at any time, including on the application for admission to the UW. After notification of admission and before registration, new students should contact the Student Services Office for help in program planning.

Major Requirements

105-113 credits

  1. Core STEM (43-50 credits)
    1. Biology: BIOL 180, BIOL 200 (10 credits)
    2. Chemistry: CHEM 120, OCEAN 295; or CHEM 120, CHEM 220; or CHEM 142, CHEM 152, OCEAN 295; or CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162 (10-15 credits)
    3. Physics: Either PHYS 114 or PHYS 121 plus OCEAN 285 and OCEAN 286; or PHYS 114 and PHYS 115; or PHYS 121 and PHYS 122 (8-10 credits)
    4. Calculus: Q SCI 291 or MATH 124; Q SCI 292 or MATH 125 (10 credits)
    5. Statistics: Q SCI 381 or STAT 311 (5 credits)
  2. Introduction to Marine Environment: FISH 250/OCEAN 250/BIOL 250 or OCEAN 200 and OCEAN 201; OCEAN 210; FISH 270/OCEAN 270/MARBIO 270 (14 credits)
  3. Marine Biology Core: FISH 370/OCEAN 370/MARBIO 370; OCEAN 330 or OCEAN 430; FISH 323 (14-15 credits)
  4. Communications: MARBIO 305 or FHL 333 (3 credits)
  5. Electives: Minimum 25 credits from approved courses (see department website for list), meeting the following requirements
    1. Minimum one course each in biodiversity, ecology and ecosystems, organismal processes
    2. Minimum two courses from approved laboratory electives
    3. Minimum three courses at the 400 level
    4. Maximum 6 credits total from OCEAN 492, FHL 450, FHL 460, FHL 470, or FHL 492.
  6. Integrative Field Experience: One from MARBIO 479, MARBIO 488, FHL 450, FHL 460, FHL 470, or OCEAN 492. Students who take OCEAN 492 toward elective requirements in 5.d. above may apply an additional 6 credits in OCEAN 492 to the integrative field experience requirement. (6 credits)
  7. Minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA in courses presented for the major.
  8. Majors must satisfy the College of the Environment general education requirements.


Minor Requirements: 35 credits

  1. Introductory Courses (19 credits): FISH 250/OCEAN 250/BIOL 250; OCEAN 210; BIOL 180; Q SCI 381.
  2. Integrative Experience (3 credits): See adviser for approved list of courses.
  3. Electives (13 credits): Selected from an approved list available from a program adviser. Additional courses may be approved by program adviser. (A minimum of one elective course must be taken from each of the following units: Aquatic and Fishery Sciences; Oceanography; and Biology or Friday Harbor Laboratories.)
  4. Up to 17 credits may overlap with credits applied to a student's major and up to 5 credits may overlap with credits applied to another minor.
  5. Minimum 15 credits in upper-division courses.
  6. Minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA in courses presented for the minor.