Best Marine Biology Colleges 2022

Have you always had a curiosity about wildlife in the ocean? Pursue your passion at one of the best marine biology colleges!

TCM Staff

12th January 2022

The ocean is home to countless curious creatures, from sea urchins to hammerhead sharks, and electric eels to sea turtles. If you’re interested in how marine creatures live and interact with their environment, you might consider studying marine biology at a university. 

An education in marine biology is both rewarding and exciting, offering a multitude of areas to specialize in. Today we’ll discuss some of the best marine biology colleges for your undergraduate and graduate education, as well as popular majors of study for each one. By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid understanding of the best schools for marine biology in 2022! But first, we’ll cover why marine biology is an important field of study. Let’s get started!

Why is Marine Biology an Important Field?

Most of the world is covered in water. Specifically, 71% of the world is water, and 96.5% of that water is oceans. The environment below the water’s surface hosts millions of ecosystems and interactions between marine animals, plants, and organisms, and affects the earth’s land environment as well. 

The oceans support so many different kinds of life on Earth and studying the field allows us to learn more about and improve:

  • Water Pollution
  • Coral Reefs
  • Air Quality and Carbon Dioxide Distribution
  • Endangered and Invasive Species, Biodiversity
  • Fishing Impact on Marine Life
  • Water as an Energy Source (Tidal Energy)

Many of the top marine biology colleges cover many of the above topics through marine biology specializations. Without further ado, let’s dive into the best marine biology colleges in the US. 

Best Marine Biology Colleges 2022 

    1. University of Miami

With an acceptance rate of about 33%, the University of Miami is a top contender in our list of the best marine biology schools. They offer a broad bachelor’s of science program in marine biology and ecology, with a huge range of specialization options. Tuition costs about $53,000 per year, making this school one of the most expensive of the colleges that offer marine biology. 

Acceptance Rate: 33%

Pros and Cons:

✔ Located close to the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean and near the Florida Keys and Everglades, offering access to many unique marine ecosystems to study

✔ Wide range of program majors, including marine science, marine biology and ecology, marine affairs, and more. 

❌ Expensive tuition 

    2. University of California

Another coastal university, UCLA has an impressive Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology that offers students a marine biology major. Being on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, UCLA offers students some of the most unique research opportunities and access to the ocean wildlife, an advantage making UCLA one of the best colleges for marine biology. In-state students will pay about $15,000 for tuition, while out-of-state students must pay closer to $37,000. 

Acceptance Rate: 16%

Pros and Cons:

✔ Marine Biology Quarter offers a real-life marine biologist experience for students where they live at a field station, design projects, and test their experiments and hypotheses

✔ UCLA is known for helping undergraduate students publish their work in major scientific journals

University of California

    3. Auburn University

Alabama students interested in colleges for marine biology don’t even need to leave their home state to study at one of the US’s most reputable universities. Ranked #1 for biology in Alabama, Auburn University is a member of organizations that host research programs, like the Organization for Tropical Studies and Dauphin Island Sea Lab, offering students unique opportunities to dive into their research and make valuable network contacts for career opportunities. In-state tuition costs $5,913, while out-of-state students must pay $15,993 per year.

Acceptance Rate: 85% 

Pros and Cons:

✔ Offers field studies in  Atlantic, Antarctic, Caribbean, tropical Indo-Pacific seas.

✔ Peaks of Excellence associates the school with many fish and wildlife organizations like the Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Genomics and Sequencing Laboratory, and the Molette Biology Laboratory for Environmental and Climate Change Studies

✔ Very affordable tuition, especially for in-state students

    4. University of New Hampshire

The University of New Hampshire offers a comprehensive marine biology major: Marine, Estuarine, and Freshwater Biology Major. While this school doesn’t offer the same ocean residency programs as Miami or California, its proximity to lakes offers a unique specialty: freshwater. 

Tuition sits at around $15,000 for domestic students, and $33,000 for out-of-state students. Moreover, students can take advantage of UNH’s partnership with Cornell University in its summer program at Appledore Islan’s Shoals Marine Laboratory. 

Acceptance Rate: 85%

Pros and Cons:

✔ Freshwater marine biology focus 

✔ Access to New Hampshire Seacoast, Lakes Region, and White Mountain National Forest

✔ More affordable than many other colleges with marine biology

    5. Eckerd College

Located in Tampa Bay Florida, Eckerd College offers marine biology students unique access to the Gulf of Mexico. They also boast higher retention rates than the average for Florida universities, though tuition is high at $45,000 per year. 

Students looking for a unique learning experience will adore Eckerd College’s boat classes, allowing students to study right on the water. They also offer a residency program on the Bermuda Islands. 

Acceptance Rate: 69%

Pros and Cons:

✔ Small student population, allowing for more focused learning

✔ Unique boat setting for classes

❌ Private college, more expensive than others

    6. University of Oregon

One of the University of Oregon’s leading attractions is the residency Oregon Institute of Marine Biology, located in coastal Charleston, Oregon. The school also offers the only marine biology degree in the US Pacific Northwest, attracting students from neighboring states. Common fields of study and courses include oceanography, zoology, Tropical Marine Biology, and Marine Birds and Mammals. In-state tuition costs about $11,000 per year, while out-of-state tuition costs about $37,000 per year. 

Acceptance Rate: 83%

Pros and Cons:

✔ Small class sizes and field research and residency at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology

✔ Independent research and internship opportunities

    7. University of Hawaii at Hilo

Can you think of a better place to study marine biology than in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? That’s the kind of ocean access you’ll receive when studying at the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Marine Biology Program. The school is unique in that it offers students either a BA or BSc in marine science, and allows students to take scuba diving and vessel trips throughout their tenure. 

Some interesting courses of the program include marine monitoring techniques, marine debris in the Pacific, and biological oceanography. Student residents of Hawaii can expect to pay about $7,000 for tuition, while out-of-state students must pay around $20,000. The school also boasts a higher-than-average, 70% freshmen retention rate. 

Acceptance Rate: 45%

Pros and Cons:

✔ Ideal environment for marine study and unique research opportunities

❌ Far flight for students that prefer to be closer to home throughout their studies

    8. Boston University

Boston University

Boston University is a private research university that has one of the country’s leading marine biology programs. Some popular fields of study include ocean exploration, tropical marine invertebrates, marine conservation, overfishing prevention, marine species extinction, biomimicry, and more. The school has well-established partnerships with various marine organizations like the New England Aquarium and the Sea Education Association. Tuition is quite expensive at $58,000 per year.

Acceptance Rate: 19%

Pros and Cons:

✔ Hands-on research opportunities

❌ Expensive tuition and competitive admissions 

    9. Samford University

Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Samford University is a great marine biology option for students that want a Baptist Christina approach to their studies. Samford offers an impressive summer component at the Dauphin Sea LabTuition costs about $35,000 for both in-state and out-of-state students at this private university. 

Acceptance Rate: 84%

Pros and Cons:

✔ Small class sizes and high professor to student ratio

✔ Unique freshwater learning experiences around the city 

    10. Duke University

Along with the University of Hawaii, Duke University is one of the few colleges that offer marine biology as both a BA and BSc degree. The program also allows students to take one course as an independent study. 

Something that sets Duke apart from the others is its attitude towards biology. The marine biology program isn’t distinct from biology itself, allowing students to gain a broader, more applicable education to both biology and marine biology research opportunities and employment. Some popular courses include a specific course about sea turtle biology and conservation, an abroad, tropical ecology course in Singapore, and comparative physiology of marine animals. 

Acceptance Rate: 8%

Pros and Cons:

✔ Broad, applicable knowledge due to the school’s seeing marine biology as something within, not separate, from traditional biology. 

✔ Reputable, ivy league university

❌ Expensive tuition


Marine biology is an exciting field for animal lovers and ocean enthusiasts to pursue in university. Using the above list of the best marine biology colleges, take your time processing the differences between each school to narrow down contenders that best work for your goals. 
Looking for financial aid to secure before you apply for a marine biology program? Check out our scholarships today! 

Marine Biology Degree Programs in the U.S. (by State)








University of Guam [Biology] BS, MS – Marine Laboratory | Houk Lab



Southwestern College [Marine Biology] BS


Nicholls State University [Biology with Marine Biology concentration] BS, [Marine and Environmental Biology] MS



University of Maryland [Biology] BS, [Marine-Estuarine-Environmental Sciences] MS, PhD



University of Southern Mississippi [Marine Biology] BS, [Marine Science] BS, MS, PhD


Northwest Missouri State University [Marine Biology] BS

New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire [Marine, Estuarine and Freshwater Biology] BS, [Marine Biology] MS, PhD

New Jersey

New York

  • Cornell University – [Ecology and Evolutionary Biology] BS, [Ecology and Evolutionary Biology] MS, PhD

  • Hofstra University [Biology with Marine Biology track] BS

  • State University of New York – Stony Brook [Marine Sciences] BS, [Marine Vertebrate Biology] BS, [Marine Sciences (Marine Conservation and Policy, Marine and Atmospheric Sciences) tracks] MA, MS, PhD

North Carolina



  • University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Marine Biology BA, BS, MS, PhD

  • Oregon State University [Biology with Marine Biology option] BS, [Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences] BS, HBS, [Marine Resource Management] MA, MS, [Fisheries Science] BS, MS, Ph.D., MAIS


Rhode Island

South Carolina


  • Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi [Biology w/ Marine Biology career track] BS, MS, PhD

  • Texas A&M University Galveston [Marine Biology, Marine Fisheries] BS, IDP, MS, PhD

  • Texas State [Aquatic Biology] BS, [Aquatic Resources] MS, [Aquatic Resources] PhD

  • University of Texas at Austin – Marine Science Institute [Biology: Marine and Freshwater Science] BS, [Marine Science] MS, PhD

U.S. Virgin Islands

University of the Virgin Islands – BA, BS, Master of Marine and Environmental Science Program (MMES)




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