17 Best Marine Biology Colleges in California & their details

Marine Biology Colleges in California
Marine Biology Colleges in California

The importance of marine biologists cannot be overemphasized. Those who attended the marine biology colleges in California have many jobs based overseas, or at sea. It is very possible for marine biologists to progress to senior research scientist and management-level positions.

Without much ado, let us look at the marine biology colleges in California.

Where do Marine Biologists Work in California

As a marine biologist in California, there are several job opportunities available to you. These positions typically offer greater job security and more opportunity for advancement.

Below is a list of places you can work after studying marine biology in these best colleges in California:

  • Zoos
  • Aquariums
  • Museums
  • University Research Laboratories
  • Private Companies
  • Government Research Laboratories
  • Non-profit environmental Advocacy Organizations
  • Consulting Firms
  • Engineering companies
  • Pollution and water control companies
  • Environmental Research Councils
  • Energy, Oil and Gas Exploration firms involved in Marine Energy

How much does a Marine Biologist in California make?

The amount of money you would earn as a marine biologist in California depends on your level of experience, the degrees you have, and the kind of place you want to be employed in.

This is one of the reasons to attend the best marine biology colleges in California.

However, the annual wage for a marine biologist is somewhere around $145,450. Those employed by the federal government and in academia earn more than those in state government and other sectors.

Which Body Accredits Marine Biology in California

These best schools for marine biology programs in California are accredited by the California Board of Education.

To determine the accreditation status of any college or university, the commission uses a publication entitled Accredited Institutions of Postsecondary Education(AIPE) to verify accreditation.

How much does it cost to Attend the Best Colleges for MArine Biology in California?

Basically, you are asking how much it costs to complete a Marine Biology Program in California, right?

Every school in California has its own specific cost for running a program in marine biology. However, the average tuition and fees of the marine biology programs at the schools are $10,343 for state residents and $29,706 for out-of-state students in 2022.

How long does it take to Complete a Program in Marine Biology in California?

Most undergraduate studies are 3 or 4 years long. This depends on the school, their speed, and on the type of program you run- whether part-time or full-time.

Requirements for Applying for a Marine Program in California

  • You must have done well in math, biology, chemistry, physics and natural sciences.
  • Standardized test score from the SAT or ACT. GRE scores will also be accepted, but only if SAT or ACT scores are unavailable.
  • At least two letters of recommendation are required and must be submitted. They could be from academic instructors who can strongly attest to your academic ability; individuals, ideally health care professionals, who served in a supervisory capacity for you
  • A complete online application.

How can you Apply for a Marine Biology Program in California?

To apply for a marine biology program in California, you would be required to reach out to the schools listed below for inquiries. The links have been provided and most of them enable students to apply online.

Go to the official website and submit the documents, answer the necessary questions and provide the information. 

The list of the best marine biology colleges in California

  • California Lutheran University [Biology Major focusing on research in marine biology] BA, BS
  • California State University, Long Beach BS, MS/PhD
  • California State University Monterey Bay [Marine Science] BS. MS
  • California State University (Moss Landing Marine Laboratories) [Marine Science] MS
  • Humboldt State University [Biology with Marine Biology Major Concentration] BS, MS
  • San Diego State University [Ecology, Evolutionary Biology] BS, MS, PhD
  • San Francisco State University [Marine Science] BS
  • San Jose State University [Biology: Marine Biology concentration] BS
  • Sonoma State University [Biology with concentration in Marine Biology] BS, [Biology with concentrations such as Marine Ecology] MS
  • Stanford University/Hopkins Marine Station (undergraduate/graduate studies)
  • University of California Berkeley [Marine Science] BA, [Integrative Biology] BA, [Integrative Biology] PhD
  • University of California Los Angeles [Marine Biology] BS?[Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with Marine Biology specialization] MS, PhD
  • University of California Santa Barbara [Aquatic Biology, Biology, Zoology, etc.] BA/BS, [Marine Science] MS, PhD
  • University of California Santa Cruz [Marine Biology] BS, [Ocean Sciences: Biological Oceanography pathway] MS, PhD
  • University of California San Diego/Scripps Institution of Oceanography [Marine Biology] BS, [Marine Biodiversity and Conservation] MS, PhD
  • University of San Diego [Environmental and Ocean Sciences with marine ecology pathway] BA, [Environmental and Ocean Sciences] MS
  • University of Southern California Dornsife [Marine Biology] Minor, Progressive Masters in Marine and Environmental Biology, MS, [Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography, Ocean Sciences] PhDs

California Lutheran University

California Lutheran University [Biology Major focusing on research in marine biology] BA, BS: Their program will give you a solid understanding of biological systems from the molecular to ecological level. With this foundational knowledge, you’ll be able to explore more advanced subjects.

California State University, Long Beach


California State University, Long Beach BSMS/PhD: CSULB is one of only a handful of schools that offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology.

This degree program, operated under the auspices of the Department of Biological Sciences, is designed both for students considering graduate work in marine biology and also for those seeking employment in private industry or governmental agencies.

A Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology from CSULB has helped many of their past students to successfully compete for marine biology-related jobs in resource management agencies and companies. 

California State University Monterey Bay


California State University Monterey Bay [Marine Science] BS. MS: Students in the Department of Marine Science apply a wide range of technologies to study marine ecosystems.

Through applied learning and research, students gain the skills necessary to develop a sustainable balance between the unique environmental, recreational, cultural and economic opportunities in the Monterey Bay region.

Through lab and field experience, students apply techniques of experimental design, data acquisition, analysis and presentation that provide them with the skills needed to monitor and analyze marine science problems.

California State University


California State University (Moss Landing Marine Laboratories) [Marine Science] MS: The marine biology course in this institution provides students with a cutting-edge marine science education that emphasizes mentoring and teaching integrated with independent research.

Through their curriculum and research-based graduate program, they prepare students for careers in science, education and outreach, conservation, policy and management, as well as the pursuit of doctoral degrees related to the marine sciences.

Humboldt State University


Humboldt State University [Biology with Marine Biology Major Concentration] BS, MS: In this university, students who major in Biology may elect to specialize in one of several concentrations: Cellular/Molecular Biology, Ecology, General Biology, Marine Biology, Microbiology, or Science Education (Life Science Teacher Preparation).

All majors emphasize hands-on learning and personal interaction with faculty members. Many courses take advantage of the outstanding natural environment surrounding Humboldt State.

Programs are structured to allow latitude for student choice in developing a program suitable to individual needs. 

San Diego State University


San Diego State University [Ecology, Evolutionary Biology] BS, MS, PhD: The Department of Biology at San Diego State University has excellent degree programs with courses taught by over 35 full time, research-active faculty members.

They serve and mentor approximately 1300 undergraduate majors in Biology and Microbiology, 80 minors, 150+ graduate students, and thousands of students from other departments.

SDSU offers a rich variety of coursework in cellular and molecular biology, ecology, evolution, and related fields.

In a typical semester, undergraduates have access to over 50 courses.

San Francisco State University


San Francisco State University [Marine Science] BS: This program offers students an opportunity to immerse themselves in the study of marine environments and the organisms that reside there.

The B.S. in Marine Biology is suited for students preparing for a variety of careers, such as academic research, aquatic scientist, teacher, naturalist, outdoor educator and state and government agencies including the National Park Service, State Parks and Recreation, Environmental Protection Agency and Water Quality Monitoring Agencies, as well as Non-Governmental organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and many others.

San Jose State University


San Jose State University [Biology: Marine Biology concentration] BS: This is one of the marine biology colleges in California.

Sonoma State University


Sonoma State University [Biology with a concentration in Marine Biology] BS[Biology with concentrations such as Marine Ecology] MS: The Biology Department offers both a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Science degree.  Students can choose to add a concentration within their degree programs. 

Stanford University/Hopkins Marine Station


Stanford University/Hopkins Marine Station (undergraduate/graduate studies): This is not just one of the marine biology colleges in California but also a leader in marine science since 1892.

Where researchers, undergraduates, and graduates come together ask big questions, explore new ideas, and discover how and why things work. 

University of California Berkeley


University of California Berkeley [Marine Science] BA[Integrative Biology] BA[Integrative Biology] PhD: This is one of the marine biology colleges in California where courses in the field of marine science are offered, thus requires an understanding of the interactions between the biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere.

University of California Los Angeles


University of California Los Angeles [Marine Biology] BS?[Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with Marine Biology specialization] MS, PhD: This is one of the marine biology colleges in California that provides the opportunity for undergraduates to live the life of a marine biologist under the guidance of department faculty and graduate assistants.

University of California Los Angles is a highly rated public university located in Los Angeles, California. It is a large institution with an enrollment of 30,969 undergraduate students. Admissions are extremely competitive as the UCLA acceptance rate is 12%.

UCLA alumni earn a starting salary of $44,500.

It is one of the best marine biology colleges in California. To apply to this university, click here.

University of California Santa Barbara


University of California Santa Barbara [Aquatic Biology, Biology, Zoology, etc.] BA/BS[Marine Science] MS, PhD: This is equally one of the marine biology colleges in California.

UC Santa Barbara, one of the best marine biology colleges in California is a highly rated public university located in Isla Vista, California in the Santa Barbara Area.

It is a large institution with an enrollment of 22,846 undergraduate students. Admissions are competitive as the UC Santa Barbara acceptance rate is 30%

Graduating 83% of students, UC Santa Barbara alumni earn a starting salary of $39,000.  The net cost of tuition is about $16,767.

To apply to this university, click here

University of California Santa Cruz

University of California Santa Cruz [Marine Biology] BS[Ocean Sciences: Biological Oceanography pathway] MS, PhD: This is one of the marine biology colleges in California that offer marine biology major that is designed to introduce students to marine ecosystems, including the great diversity of marine organisms and their coastal and oceanic environments. 

University of California San Diego


University of California San Diego/Scripps Institution of Oceanography [Marine Biology] BS[Marine Biodiversity and Conservation] MS, PhD: Just like other marine biology colleges in California, their marine biology courses helps students develop an understanding of the biology of marine organisms and the biological and physical processes that affect these organisms, their populations, and their coastal and oceanic ecosystems.

UC San Diego is a highly rated public university located in San Diego, California. It is a large institution with an enrollment of 29,966 undergraduate students.

It is one of the best marine biology colleges in California.

Admission is fairly competitive as the UC San Diego acceptance rate is 31%.

Graduating 87% of students, UC San Diego alumni earn a starting salary of $43,400. To be accepted into the University of California- San Diego, your SAT Range must be between 1250 and 1490. The application fee for this university is $70.

Tuition at the University of California- San Diego is $14,864

To apply to this university, click here

University of San Diego


University of San Diego [Environmental and Ocean Sciences with marine ecology pathway] BA[Environmental and Ocean Sciences] MS: The marine courses at this institution offers students intellectually challenging conceptual training coupled with practical hands-on experience in the field and lab to prepare them for graduate school and diverse career opportunities.

University of Southern California Dornsife


University of Southern California Dornsife [Marine Biology] MinorProgressive Masters in Marine and Environmental Biology, MS[Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography, Ocean Sciences] PhDs: The core scientific mission of the Marine and Environmental Biology section in this college is to understand marine organisms, their interactions in complex marine ecosystems, and the emergent properties of the communities that result from these interactions.

Please let us know what you think about these marine biology colleges in California.

Types of marine biologist

Job titles range from:

  • marine ecologist and dive operations manager
  • reef restoration project manager
  • marine biology technician
  • research assistant
  • fishery data manager
  • environmental engineer
  • professor in marine ecology
  • postdoctoral fellow
  • oil spill response specialist
  • consultant in marine ecology
  • marine biotechnologist
  • marine policy expert.

Although most roles require strong technical, research and scientific skills, specialising in a particular area are usually required for career progression – whether in coastal management, reef ecology, invertebrate biodiversity, fisheries biology or marine pollution.

While many marine biologists have marine biology or science-related undergraduate degree with postgraduate study, the key to breaking into this career is to gain relevant experience, either voluntary or paid.

There is a lot of competition for jobs, so seizing opportunities to develop your skillset and prove your commitment is key.

What to expect

  • The dress code is casual for fieldwork and fairly informal for most marine biology roles, unless you’re working for a consultancy.
  • University work is usually office and lab-based, although these roles may include short or long-term expeditions abroad.
  • There are plenty of opportunities to work all around the world.
  • You’ll need to be ready to seize opportunities by volunteering, interning or otherwise, to gain the experience necessary to stand out from the crowd.
  • Field work can be arduous. You might be diving or working at sea in difficult weather conditions.
  • Marine biology is a gender-equal career field.

Qualifications

To become a marine biologist, you’ll need a marine-focused degree such as:

  • marine biology
  • marine biology and coastal ecology/oceanography
  • marine science
  • ocean and earth science
  • oceanography.

If your undergraduate degree is a broader-based science degree, you will probably need a postgraduate degree in the marine-related study.

Careers in marine biology are often research-based, and while it’s possible to study a marine biology undergraduate degree and go straight into volunteering or a semi-employed position on a conservation science project, postgraduate study is common.

Postgraduate degrees range from a master in tropical marine biology to tropical coastal management and aquatic ecology and conservation.

If you’re an undergraduate who wants to keep their career options open, you may prefer to study more general science-based undergraduate degrees and a master later on so you’re not specialising too early.

PhDs can also be advantageous, particularly if you’re following an academic path in the ocean and earth science, marine geochemistry or chemistry oceanography and behavioural ecology.

PhD opportunities are available through marine research organisations and universities, and you may be able to undertake your studies on a part-time basis while working.

It’s important to identify a supervisor working in the specialist area that interests you.

What is the job demand for marine biologists?

BLS projects show that job demand for marine biologists as a whole would be 3-7% through 2022, slower than average for all occupations. Those with advanced math and computer skills will be at an advantage in the job market.

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