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Master of Science degree in Biology and concentration in: Marine Biology (Master of Science degree in Biology and concentration in: Marine Biology )

Master (ISCED 2011 level 7)


Duration 4 semesters

In the Biological Sciences Department, you can choose a major or minor in Biology, Botany, or Zoology. 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. There are also many opportunities for independent and faculty-mentored studies.

HSU graduates have an excellent record of acceptance into the top graduate schools in the country, as well as directly starting careers in a variety of wide-ranging and growing biological fields. Students interested in health-related professions should refer also to Pre-Professional Health Programs in the HSU catalog.


  • Diverse faculty committed to undergraduate education and mentorship.
  • Low student-to-faculty ratio.
  • Wide-ranging courses and opportunities, including numerous specialized topics.
  • Emphasis on hands-on learning.
  • Excellent facilities available for undergraduates, including the Telonicher Marine Laboratory; ocean-going research vessel, The Coral Sea; Biotechnology Laboratory; Greenhouses; Vertebrate Museum; Herbarium; Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopes; HSU Natural History Museum; and the CNRS Core Research Facility.
  • Outstanding natural environments including ocean and estuarine areas, undeveloped coastal dunes, redwood forests, alpine and subalpine forests, and numerous state and national parks and forests.
  • Rigorous coursework designed to prepare students for active careers and graduate study.

The Program Students completing this program will have demonstrated the ability to:

ƒ apply the scientific method to questions in biology by formulating testable hypotheses, gathering data that address these hypotheses, and analyzing those data to assess the degree to which their scientific work supports their hypotheses

ƒ present scientific hypotheses and data both orally and in writing in the formats that are used by practicing scientists ƒ access the primary literature, identify relevant works for a particular topic, and evaluate the scientific content of these works

ƒ apply fundamental mathematical tools (statistics, calculus) and physical principles (physics, chemistry) to the analysis of relevant biological situations

ƒ identify the major groups of organisms and be able to classify them within a phylogenetic framework. Students will be able to compare and contrast the characteristics of organisms that differentiate the various domains and kingdoms from one another

ƒ use the evidence of comparative biology to explain how the theory of evolution offers the only scientific explanation for the unity and diversity of life on earth. They will be able to use specific examples to explicate how descent with modification has shaped organismal morphology, physiology, life history, and behavior

ƒ explain how organisms function at the level of the gene, genome, cell, tissue, organ and organ-system. Drawing upon this knowledge, they will be able to give specific examples of the physiological adaptations, development, reproduction and behavior of different forms of life

ƒ explicate the ecological interconnectedness of life on earth by tracing energy and nutrient flows through the environment. They will be able to relate the physical features of the environment to the structure of populations, communities, and ecosystems

ƒ demonstrate proficiency in the experimental techniques and methods of analysis appropriate for their area of specialization within biology.

Humboldt’s program emphasizes hands-on learning. Our diverse facilities include the largest greenhouse in the California State University system, a vertebrate museum containing mammals, reptiles, and amphibians from around the world, and a vascular plant herbarium with almost 100,000 specimens. Near the campus are many parks, forests, and undisturbed habitats for studying plants and animals in their natural surroundings.

Humboldt’s marine laboratory, located on the coast in the nearby town of Trinidad, gives students outstanding opportunities for marine biology projects. The research vessel, the Coral Sea, is used for seagoing field trips. Several smaller boats are used in nearshore waters, coastal lagoons, and Humboldt Bay. Our well-equipped biotechnology laboratory, cell culture facility, and College Core facility allow modern work in molecular and cellular biology. Scanning and transmission electron microscopes are also available for student use.

Humboldt biology graduates have many job opportunities: teacher, field biologist, marine biologist, museum curator, science librarian, clinical lab technologist, laboratory technician, environmental consultant, microbiologist, and biotechnology research technician. Graduates may also pursue advanced study in biology or a professional degree.

Core Courses (for all concentrations)

Lower Division (33-34 units)

BIOL 105 (4) Principles of Biology

BOT 105 (4) General Botany

CHEM 109 (5) General Chemistry I

CHEM 110 (5) General Chemistry II

MATH 105 (3) Calculus for the Biological Sciences & Natural Resources, or

MATH 109 (4) Calculus I

PHYX 106 (4) College Physics: Mechanics & Heat

STAT 109 (4) Introductory Biostatistics

ZOOL 110 (4) Introductory Zoology Upper Division (8 units)

BIOL 307 (4) Evolution

BIOL 340 (3) Genetics, and

BIOL 340L (1) Genetics Lab

Marine Biology Concentration Core courses plus:

Lower Division

BIOL 255 (3) Marine Biology

CHEM 228 (4) Brief Organic Chemistry

OCN 109/109L (3/1) General Oceanography/Lab

PHYX 107 (4) College Physics: Electromagnetism & Modern Physics, or

PHYX 118 (1) College Physics: Biological Applications Take all lower division courses before beginning upper division work. Upper Division

BIOL 330 (4) Principles of Ecology

BOT 356 (4) Phycology

FISH 310 (4) Ichthyology

ZOOL 314 (5) Invertebrate Zoology

BIOL 430 (3) Intertidal Ecology, or

OCN 310 (4) Biological Oceanography

BIOL 350 (3) Cell Biology, or

BOT 310 (4) Gen. Plant Physiology, or

ZOOL 310 (4) Animal Physiology

One of the following:

BIOL 490 (1-2) Senior Thesis, or

BIOL 498 (2) Marine Biology Capstone Research, or

BIOL 499 (1-2) Directed Study At least one advanced marine biology elective from the following list, or from any optional course NOT taken above.

BIOL 418 (3) Marine Microbiology

BOT 553 (3) Marine Macrophyte Ecology FISH 375 (3) Mariculture

FISH 435 (4) Biology of Marine Fishes

OCN 410 (3) Zooplankton Ecology ZOOL 530 (3) Benthic Ecology

ZOOL 552 (3) Advanced Invertebrate Zoology

ZOOL 556 (4) Marine Mammalogy

Structural components
Laboratory training
Practical/Field work



Program Learning Outcomes Graduate students will:

ƒ apply a rich body of relevant biological sciences knowledge and information to solve complex scientific problems and challenges

ƒ present a proposal for biological research or project of their own design

ƒ conduct a unique and independent biological investigation or an independent project according to the rigors and conventions of the field

ƒ communicate the results of their scientific investigation or project in an oral format according to conventions of the discipline

ƒ communicate the results of their scientific investigation or project in writing according to the conventions of the discipline

Requirements for the Master of Science degree in Biology Required Courses

BIOL 683 [1] Introduction to Graduate Studies

BIOL 684 [1] Introduction to Graduate Research

BIOL 685 [1] Seminar in Biology [take two seminars] Upper division or graduate units in biological sciences or supporting courses approved by the graduate committee to bring total to 30 units.

A minimum of 18 units must be at the graduate level. While in residence, enrollment in a minimum of two units* per semester of:

BIOL 690 [1-4] Thesis or

BIOL 699 [1-4] Independent Study. *Combined total of not less than four nor more than eight units of BIOL 690 and/or BIOL 699 (with a maximum of six units in BIOL 690) and a thesis or project approved by the graduate committee. Culminating Experience Oral presentation of the thesis or project work and defense of the thesis or project before the graduate committee.

ISCED Categories

Conservation and environmental management
Physical and chemical oceanography