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Bachelor’s in Marine Biology: Top 20 Values 2020

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In this article, we profile the top 20 values for bachelor’s in marine biology degree programs of 2020.

A bachelor’s in marine biology is an ideal choice for students interested in studying marine animals in their natural habitats. This undergraduate degree is also a potentially lucrative career choice. According to PayScale, a global compensation research organization, the median wage for marine biologists is $51,538 per year. A marine biology degree can prepare students for entry-level positions in the field of marine sciences and lay the foundation for graduate studies. In this ranking, we explore the top 20 values for a bachelor’s in marine biology.

Best Marine Biology Colleges: Top 20 Values Methodology

To develop this ranking of the top 20 value bachelor’s in marine biology degree programs, our editors consulted NCES College Navigator to identify the schools and universities across the country with undergraduate tuition numbers below $42,000 per year. These schools offered undergraduate marine biology degree programs. This search yielded 78 results, which were narrowed down by applying particular criteria, such as accreditation, affordability, and rankings with major publications like U.S. News and World Report.

Below is our list of the best value top marine biology schools.

#20 – Florida Institute of Technology

Bachelor’s in Marine Biology

Melbourne, Florida

Website

Florida Institute of Technology - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

Florida Tech’s bachelor’s in marine biology program offers access to 12 research labs!

Undergraduate Tuition: $41,850

Florida Institute of Technology’s bachelor’s in marine biology is a four-year program that engages first-year students in their marine bio major. From the start, students take classes like biological discovery, general chemistry, and introduction to marine biology. First-year students also delve into laboratory work and marine biology research. Florida Tech offers access to eight teaching labs, 12 modern research labs, and an indoor aquaculture facility that primarily consists of wet laboratory space. Students also gain access to the Vero Beach Marin Laboratory, an off-campus facility on the Atlantic Ocean where most of the large-scale culture is conducted. In addition to state-of-the-art facilities, Florida Tech has received rankings from U.S. News and World Report as a top national institution.

#19 – Nova Southeastern University

Bachelor’s in Marine Biology

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Website

Nova Southeastern University - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

Nova Southeastern University has a great location among the best marine biology colleges.

Undergraduate Tuition: $30,900

Nova Southeastern University’s bachelor’s in marine biology program provides opportunities for students to explore the physical sciences and intricacies of the marine world. Preparation includes a curriculum that covers the basics of ecology, ecosystems, and laboratory techniques, as well as the study of animals, chemistry, and physics of the oceanic world. Marine biology courses include biology of fishes, coral reefs and coral communities, everglades ecology and conservation, food web dynamics, natural history of south Florida, and sharks and their relatives. The NSU campus offers access to Florida’s southern coastal environment and marina for this bachelor’s in marine biology program. NSU ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 191st best national university.

#18 – The University of Tampa

Bachelor’s in Marine Science

Tampa, Florida

Website

The University of Tampa - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

Ranked and accredited – University of Tampa’s bachelor’s in marine science.

Undergraduate Tuition: $29,208

The bachelor’s in marine biology program at the University of Tampa is a dual marine science and biology degree. The curriculum is mostly prescribed but allows for some flexibility. Students may tailor their degrees around a specific area of interest through elective courses. Some of the courses offered include environmental chemistry, marine ecology, and physical oceanography. The school’s location near the Florida Keys allows for rich experiential learning opportunities, and international study experiences are also available. UT’s reputation is recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks UT #20 in best regional universities in the South.

#17 – Alaska Pacific University

Bachelor’s in Marine Biology

Anchorage, Alaska

Website

Alaska Pacific University - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

Ranked by U.S. News – Alaska Pacific University’s bachelor’s in marine biology.

Undergraduate Tuition: $20,760

Alaska Pacific University’s bachelor’s in marine biology offering is technically a BS in marine and environmental sciences with an emphasis in marine biology. In addition to foundational studies, students take 82 credit hours of major studies directly related to the marine sciences such as ecology, environmental physics, and human impacts in marine systems. Marine biology electives cover topics like coastal ecosystems, coral reef ecology, seabirds, and marine mammals, among others. Students in the bachelor’s degree in marine biology program will also participate in research, practicums, and a culminating project. APU ranks #64 in best regional universities in the West, according to U.S. News and World Report.

#16 – University of Rhode Island

Bachelor’s in Marine Biology

Kingston, Rhode Island

Website

University of Rhode Island - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

Study oceanography and fisheries at one of the top marine biology schools! University of Rhode Island’s bachelor’s in marine biology degree program.

Undergraduate Tuition: $14,138

The University of Rhode Island offers a diverse bachelor’s in marine biology program that allows students to customize their degree by studying related areas of marine science such as aquaculture and fisheries, geology and geological oceanography marine environmental economics, and marine archaeology, among others. In addition, the school offers a dual degree in marine biology and ocean engineering, as well as a minor in marine biology. Elective offerings allow students to diversify their degree and take classes in coral reef ecology, evolution and diversity of fishes, and marine environmental physiology. University of Rhode Island is ranked #157 in best national universities by U.S. News and World Report due to the school’s performance across a wide array of accepted indicators of excellence.

#15 – College of Charleston

Bachelor’s in Marine Biology

Charleston, South Carolina

Website

College of Charleston - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

College of Charleston is ranked by U.S. News and offers a bachelor’s in marine biology.

Undergraduate Tuition: $12,838

The College of Charleston offers a research-intensive bachelor’s in marine biology program that prepares students for careers in marine science and provides a basis for graduate study in the field. Required courses for the major include biology of fishes, biology of invertebrates, general ecology, and oceanography. Students are also invited to choose from a long list of electives including comparative anatomy of vertebrates, oceanographic research, principles of neurobiology, and more. Marine biology degree students also have the opportunity to study abroad. The College of Charleston ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 11th best regional university of the South. Several of the graduate studies programs have also received top rankings.

#14 – Montclair State University

Bachelor’s in Marine Biology and Coastal Sciences

Montclair, New Jersey

Website

Montclair State University - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

Hands-on lab experience at one of the top marine biology schools – Montclair State University’s bachelor’s in marine biology.

Undergraduate Tuition: $12,790

Montclair State University offers an interdisciplinary bachelor’s in marine biology focusing on the core sciences of biology, geology, chemistry, and physics. The curriculum consists of required foundational courses such as aquatic biological processes, environmental geochemistry and hydrology, and physical geology, as well as elective courses in biology of the fishes, human impact on the coastal zone, and principles of soil science. Bachelor’s degree in marine biology students regularly participate in hands-on labs and field experiences as part of their undergraduate study. Montclair State ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 169th best national university and 90th top public school.

#13 – Auburn University

Marine Biology Degree (Bachelor’s)

Auburn, Alabama

Website

Auburn University - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

Study at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab – Auburn University’s bachelor’s in marine biology.

Undergraduate Tuition: $11,276

Auburn University offers a bachelor’s in marine biology program that emphasizes hands-on lab work and a strong foundation in marine sciences. Students are required to take classes at labs across the country, including the nearby Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Gulf Coast Research Lab. The curriculum is a fully prescribed one consisting of course titles such cell biology, ecology, genetics, and marine systems. By earning a bachelor’s degree in marine biology at Auburn, students become well-equipped to take part in internships, enter into the workforce, or perform research at one of the many research stations affiliated with the Auburn biology program. U.S. News and World Report ranks Auburn #115 in best national universities and #132 in best value schools.

#12 – Salem State University

Marine Biology Degree (Bachelor’s)

Salem, Massachusetts

Website

Salem State University - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

Marshland experience unique among top marine biology schools – Salem State University’s bachelor’s in marine biology.

Undergraduate Tuition: $10,642

The bachelor’s in marine biology degree program at Salem State University is a bachelor’s in biology with a concentration in marine biology. In addition to core education requirements, students will enroll in required courses for the major such as biological oceanography, fish biology, and marine botany. Students are also invited to choose between six and eight credit hours of elective classes. Bachelor’s degree in marine biology students take advantage of the ocean and marshes near the North Shore for field experiences and lab assignments. In addition to its marine location, the school also offers an academic reputation recognized by major publications. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks Salem State #142 — #187 in best regional universities in the North.

#11 – The University of Texas

Bachelor’s in Biology – Marine and Freshwater Science

Austin, Texas

Website

The University of Texas - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

Ranked and accredited – University of Texas – bachelor’s in marine and freshwater science.

Undergraduate Tuition: $10,610

The University of Texas offers a unique degree among the best marine biology colleges that emphasizes marine and freshwater science through the College of Natural Sciences. Under this biology major, students are required to take six credits in residence at the Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas through the Semester by the Sea or Intersession. Marine science courses taken by undergraduates include fundamentals of marine science, humans and a changing ocean, introduction to oceanography, marine ecology, and principles of marine science — laboratory studies. UT Austin ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 49th best national university.

#10 – University of North Alabama

Marine Biology Degree (Bachelor’s)

Florence, Alabama

Website

University of North Alabama - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

BA and BS tracks – University of North Alabama – Bachelor’s in marine biology.

Undergraduate Tuition: $10,142

The bachelor’s in marine biology degree program at the University of North Alabama is designed to prepare students for either entry-level positions in marine or aquatic biology or graduate studies in a closely related field. Students are required to minor in chemistry and can choose from BA or BS tracks. The curriculum consists of specific course titles such as evolution, marine botany, marine behavioral ecology, and microbiology. Specialty courses required for this bachelor’s degree in marine biology are taken at the nearby Dauphin Island Sea Lab. University of North Alabama is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 78th best regional university in the South and 29th top public school.

#9 – University of West Alabama

Bachelor’s in Marine Biology

Livingston, Alabama

Website

University of West Alabama - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

Highly versatile bachelor’s in marine biology at a top marine biology school – University of West Alabama.

Undergraduate Tuition: $10,040

The University of West Alabama offers a versatile bachelor’s in marine biology program. Although much of the curriculum is prescribed, students can tailor their coursework around an area of interest by choosing from major-specific and interdisciplinary electives. Specific course titles include coastal zone management, environmental chemistry, evolutionary theory, and subtropical ecology. University of West Alabama’s bachelor’s degree in marine biology also requires students to conduct lab experiments and research assignments at the nearby Dauphin Island Sea Lab. U.S. News and World Report ranks University of West Alabama #107-#141 in best regional universities in the South.

#8 – Stony Brook University

Bachelor’s in Marine Biology

Stony Brook, New York

Website

Stony Brook University - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

Ranked and accredited – Stony Brook University’s bachelor’s in marine biology.

Undergraduate Tuition: $9,625

Stony Brook University’s bachelor’s in marine biology offering is technically a BS in marine sciences with a focus on marine biology. Students first complete a life sciences curriculum consisting of courses such as ecology and evolutionary biology, molecular and cell biology, oceanography, and physiology and functional biology. After completion of these initial required courses, students are encouraged to choose from electives in field courses, such as marine biology and organismal diversity. All bachelor’s degree in marine biology students have access to ample undergraduate research opportunities on campus. Honors track completion pathways are also offered. Stony Brook ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 80th best national university in the country.

#7 – Western Washington University

Bachelor’s in Biology – Marine

Bellingham, Washington

Website

Western Washington University Bachelor’s in Marine Biology Top 20 Values

Home to a world-renowned research lab – Western Washington University – Bachelor’s in marine biology.

Undergraduate Tuition: $8,126

Western Washington University’s bachelor’s in marine biology program allows students to earn a BS in biology with an emphasis in marine biology. The university’s location, close to the Salish Sea, provides a perfect learning environment for students interested in marine sciences. The school is home to the Shannon Point Marine Center, where students study in a living laboratory. This lab consists of 3,000 feet of natural beaches and 78 research vessels. Marine biology degree students are required to take specific course titles such as the biology of marine mammals, evolutionary biology, and physiological ecology of animals. WWU ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the most recent publication of Best Colleges ranks the school #19 in best regional universities in the West and #43 in best value institutions.

#6 – Northwest Missouri State University

Bachelor’s in Marine Biology

Maryville, Missouri

Website

Northwest Missouri University - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

Ranked and affordable! Northwest Missouri University’s bachelor’s in marine biology.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,844

Northwest Missouri State University offers a bachelor’s in marine biology degree program in connection with the University of Southern Mississippi’s oceanography program. The curriculum is mostly confined to core classes and includes course topics such as animal anatomy and physiology, general microbiology, and geographic information systems. Students in the institution’s marine biology program have access to undergraduate research opportunities, internships, and a study abroad program. The university boasts a high placement rate for marine biology graduates. The school ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, Northwest Missouri State ranks #86 in best regional universities in the Midwest and #19 in top public schools.

#5 – University of Alaska

Bachelor’s in Marine Biology

Juneau, Alaska

Website

University of Alaska - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

Small class sizes among top marine biology schools – University of Alaska’s bachelor’s in marine biology program.

Undergraduate Tuition: $7,092

The University of Alaska – Southeast is home to a robust bachelor’s in marine biology program. In addition to general education requirements and marine biology core courses, such as conservation biology and marine mammalogy, students will choose both biology breadth electives and general electives, including titles such as biogeochemistry, marine ornithology and herpetology, and wetlands ecology. U of A marine biology degree students enjoy small class sizes and a rich learning environment comprised of wetlands, ice fields, rain forests, and marine habitats. Major publications like U.S. News and World Report rank University of Alaska #96 – #127 in best regional universities West.

#4 – Florida International University

Bachelor’s in Marine Biology

Miami, Florida

Website

Florida International University - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

Ranked and highly affordable – Florida International University’s bachelor’s in marine biology programs.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,556

Florida International University’s bachelor’s in marine biology program is interdisciplinary in nature, offering courses from several different departments across the university, including the departments of Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, and Earth and Environment, among others. The curriculum consists of general science courses in chemistry, biology, and physics, as well as required marine biology classes such as cell biology, ecology, and physical oceanography. FIU’s marine biology undergraduates will also choose from marine biology electives, such as coastal marine conservation, fisheries science, and marine geology. Electives allow students to tailor their degree toward areas of interest or to meet career or research goals. U.S. News and World Report ranks FIU #187 in best national universities.

#3 – University of Florida

Bachelor’s in Biology

Gainesville, Florida

Website

University of Florida - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

Ranked and affordable – University of Florida’s bachelor’s in biology.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,381

The University of Florida offers a bachelor’s in biology with a curriculum that touches on marine science and marine biology topics. For those interested in marine biology, electives may be chosen to help tailor the biology degree to this discipline. The wide range of course offerings include critical analysis of biological research, functional vertebrate anatomy, invertebrate biodiversity, and plant and aquatic ecology. UF is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 35th best national university and 91st best value school. Also, UF ranks #3 on our list for most affordable bachelor’s in marine biology, or closely related, programs.

#2 – University of West Florida

Bachelor’s in Marine Biology

Pensacola, Florida

Website

University of West Florida - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

One of the best marine biology colleges – University of West Florida.

Undergraduate Tuition: $6,360

The University of West Florida offers a comprehensive bachelor’s in marine biology degree program through its Department of Biology. In addition to the general education curricula, the program consists of biology courses like biochemistry, genetics, and principles of evolution, and marine science courses such as aquatic botany, coastal marine ecology, concepts of oceanography, and marine biology. Hands-on learning experiences are made available to marine biology degree students on campus, as well as at the nearby Santa Rosa Island campus, and of course, the nearby Gulf of Mexico. The school offers an ideal setting to study marine science. U.S. News and World Report ranks University of West Florida #230 — #301 in best national universities.

#1 – Brigham Young University

Bachelor’s in Marine Biology

Laie, Hawaii

Website

Brigham Young University - Bachelor’s in Marine Biology - Top 20 Values

#1 most affordable among the best marine biology colleges – Brigham Young University Hawaii.

Undergraduate Tuition: $5,560

Brigham Young University in Hawaii offers a bachelor’s in marine biology program that yields a BS in Biology with an emphasis in marine biology. The curriculum is comprised of a 60-credit hour general biology core, as well as a 60-credit hour marine biology core. Although there are required courses in each core, some content customization is possible through the selection of electives. Electives can be tailored toward interest or to meet career goals. Marine biology degree course titles include biostatistics, evolution and human prehistory, marine microbiology, and Pacific natural history. BYU ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 17th best regional college in the West. Also, BYU ranks as offering the most affordable bachelor’s in marine biology program.
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Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do with a bachelor’s degree in marine biology?

Marine biology is the study of marine life, salt-water organisms, and the environment in which this highly specialized life exists. Graduates of bachelor’s in marine biology degree programs qualify for entry-level marine biologist jobs. Due to the broad curricula offered in most marine biology programs, other career pathways in biology and science are available.

In most bachelor’s in marine biology programs, students gain a foundation and understanding of contemporary biology and science. Coursework, laboratories, and field work or research serve as preparation for careers in marine biology. Popular career options for those with a bachelor’s in marine biology include:

  • Aquarium employees and supervisors
  • Biological technicians
  • Environmental consultants
  • Fishery biologists
  • Marine biologist

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports marine biology as a competitive field. Scientists with specialized research experience will fare well among competitors. Most bachelor’s degree programs in marine biology offer fieldwork experience or opportunities at sea or in research laboratories. Gaining research experience can help leverage your career, especially when applying to entry-level positions. Highlighting your research experience and showing that you have practical experience outside of the classroom will provide you with better job prospects in this competitive field.

How much will I earn with a bachelor’s degree in marine biology?

PayScale, a global compensation research organization, reports the average marine biologist’s salary to be $51,538. The lowest ten percent earned $33,000 while the highest ten percent earned $97,000. Various factors impact the earnings of marine biologists, such as experience level and geographic location.

We reviewed the pay by experience level as reported by PayScale. We noticed a positive trend, as marine biologists earned more according to their level of experience. PayScale reports an entry-level marine biologist with less than one-year experience can expect to earn an average compensation, including bonuses and overtime pay, of $50,041. Early career marine biologists with one to four years of experience earn an average annual wage of $50,350. Mid-career marine biologists with five to nine years of experience earn an average salary of $51,762. Experienced marine biologists with ten to nineteen years of experience earn a total compensation of $60,397. And late-career marine biologists with over twenty years of experience earn the highest average salary, $72,124.

We also looked at the pay difference associated with geographic location. PayScale reports the highest wages for marine biologists in the following cities: Honolulu, Hawaii; Los Angeles, California; San Francisco, California; San Diego, California; and Miami, Florida. Marine biologists in Honolulu earn an average of 35.9% more than the national average for all marine biologists. Of course, some areas report a high cost of living, which should be a consideration when relocating for a higher wage.

What is the job outlook for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in marine biology?

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of marine biologists, wildlife biologists, and zoologists is projected to grow five percent between 2018 and 2028. While this is about as fast as the growth of all other occupations, conservation research will be needed to study human and marine life interactions as the human population grows. However, due to the poor funding of government agencies, hiring may be limited and impacted by budget constraints.

BLS reports biologists may face strong competition when looking for employment and this is especially true for marine biologists. Applicants who have completed unique research findings, taken summer jobs in marine biology labs, gained experience through valuable internships, or volunteered at sea should find better job prospects. With adequate practical experience, individuals should find employment before or shortly after graduation. Practical work or volunteer experience will set you apart from your competition.

Due to the changes in climate patterns and increased sea levels, research opportunities and careers that focus on the deterioration of wetlands and conservation plans that combat threats and protect natural resources will increase. Taking classes that emphasize conservation may lead to career opportunities. Also, conducting senior research projects in conservation may also provide the experience needed to set you apart from other applicants.

What are the requirements for a bachelor’s degree in marine biology?

Baccalaureate programs in marine biology require four years of study. Students take classes in all areas of biology, including general biology, ecology, marine biology, and zoology. Programs in marine biology are designed to serve as preparation for marine biology careers by providing a thorough understanding of contemporary biological science, including biochemistry, cell biology, ecosystems, ecology, marine life, and molecular biology. As a graduate of a marine biology program, you will be well-versed in all areas of biology.

Admission requirements for most bachelor’s degree programs in marine biology include a high school diploma or its equivalent and a strong GPA. Students who are successful in marine biology programs enter with a strong math and science background. This means taking four years of math and four years of science in high school. Some high schools offer marine biology as an elective, which is helpful, but not necessary, for college-level marine biology classes. Critical thinking skills are also necessary for performing well in marine biology programs. If you enjoy inquiry and research, you should do well in this major.

Additional requirements for bachelor’s degree programs in marine biology vary by institution. Top-ranked schools ask for competitive and high standardized test scores. Admittance to bachelor’s degree programs will require SAT or ACT scores. In some cases, SAT subject tests in math and science may be required.

How long does it take to earn a bachelor’s degree from the best marine biology colleges?

Bachelor’s degree programs in marine biology take four years to complete in traditional on-campus settings. Few online marine biology programs exist; therefore, students must take on-campus classes to earn their degrees. Traditional enrollment means entering a cohort and completing the degree requirements set forth by the college or university. The standard time frame for a traditional bachelor’s degree in marine biology is four years.

Most entry-level marine biology careers require a bachelor’s in marine biology. In four years, students typically earn their marine biology degree and become eligible for entry-level positions. However, higher-level investigative jobs or scientific work in marine biology calls for graduate study. Once a student earns a bachelor’s, he or she may opt to enter a master’s in marine biology program. To teach marine biology at the college level, or to lead independent research, institutions require a doctorate or Ph.D. in marine biology.o

Earning an undergraduate degree in marine biology serves as a solid preparation for careers as zoologists, marine biologists, or closely related occupations. Coursework helps prepare students for these careers. Students majoring in marine biology take classes in biological diversity, conservation biology, invertebrate zoology, marine ichthyology, marine phycology, and physiology. Near the end of the program, typically during the second or third year, students may be required to complete an internship or conduct research in a marine biology lab.

CVO Staff
September 2019

Sources:
College Navigator
PayScale

Related:

This concludes our list of best marine biology colleges — top 20 value programs of 2020.

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