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Marine Biology, B.S.

Bachelor (ISCED 2011 level 6)


Duration 8 semesters
Cost $53,972 per year

Biology and Marine Biology majors investigate the interconnected processes that shape the living world. The Department of Biology and Marine Biology is housed in the Marine and Natural Sciences building, offering modern teaching and research laboratories, a spacious wet-lab with running seawater, several greenhouses and state-of-the-art instrumentation for cell and molecular biology. The Department offers the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees in biology and marine biology. Minors are also offered in biology, marine biology and aquaculture and aquarium science. The Department has a very active program for undergraduate research, and students are encouraged to join an ongoing project as early as their first year.

Marine Biology

Marine Biology majors explore the unique challenges faced by organisms living in the marine environment and the methods by which they meet these challenges. Additionally, students in the major learn to apply this knowledge to confront current issues in marine science such as fisheries and resource management, aquaculture, and marine conservation. Students begin the program by obtaining a broad understanding of marine biology and oceanographic principles, and through subsequent lectures, laboratories, and field work, build on this knowledge for a more complete appreciation of the aquatic world. The department also fosters undergraduate research programs in such fields as biological oceanography, coastal and wetland studies, marine environmental physiology, and marine biotechnology and aquaculture in order to enhance the educational experience provided to undergraduates. Upon completion of the degree, students are prepared to specialize at the graduate level in the oceanographic sciences or other environmental disciplines.

Students may also elect to undertake a SEA Semester through the SEA Education Association (SEA) of Woods Hole, Massachusetts or a semester in Bermuda at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS).

Marine Biology majors can receive either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. Marine Biology majors must satisfy all University Core Curriculum requirements and the College speech requirement, COMM 210. A Critical Writing course at the 200-level or above is a prerequisite to advanced courses and should be completed prior to the junior year. In addition, Marine Biology B.A. majors must successfully complete the following courses and sufficient electives to total 120 credits. Majors are encouraged to apply electives toward a minor or second major. Marine Biology majors may apply a maximum of two (2) courses from the major requirements towards a minor in Environmental Science, or a maximum of two (2) upper-level Marine Biology electives towards the elective requirements for the major in Environmental Science.  Marine Biology majors may not minor or double major in Biology.

The SEA Semester Option

Prerequisite for majors: Satisfactory completion of the writing and mathematics requirements and the five-course Interdisciplinary Core; a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above; and permission from the program faculty.

Prerequisite for Core Concentration: Students who are not majoring in science or mathematics may use the SEA Semester to fulfill the Core Concentration requirement provided the following prerequisites are met before the SEA Semester: satisfactory completion of the writing, mathematics, and the five-course Interdisciplinary Core; a GPA of 2.5; and permission of the program faculty.

Students in good academic standing who meet the prerequisites may apply to attend a SEA Semester through the Sea Education Association (SEA) of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This exciting and challenging off-campus program combines onshore classes, labs, and field work, in ocean sciences and maritime studies with an offshore sailing and research experience.

Semester Program at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS)

Prerequisite for majors: Satisfactory completion of the University Core Curriculum requirements and the five-course Interdisciplinary Courses.

This semester-long course of study examines the natural processes and human interventions found in the Gulf Stream, the Sargasso Sea, and the coral archipelago, Bermuda. Students are introduced to the interactions that determine the distribution and abundance patterns of tropical marine organisms, with emphasis on the ecology of near-shore areas. Basic principles of ecology are integrated with an understanding of the sea as a habitat for life. Major groups of dominant marine organisms of the region are examined in the field. Major near-shore marine habitats are examined, along with their associated biotic communities. Coral reef ecosystems are emphasized to illustrate basic concepts. Students conduct a major research project. 

Marine Biology Internship at the New England Aquarium (NEAq)

Prerequisites: Satisfactory completion of the writing and mathematics requirements and the five course interdisciplinary CORE; a cumulative GPA of 2.8 or above; recommendation from a RWU Faculty member; and acceptance by the program faculty at the New England Aquarium (NEAq).

This semester-long course of study provides a rigorous introduction to the research and educational opportunities provided by a major public aquarium. The internship will consist of an active research component in a laboratory setting under the direction of an NEAq research scientist, an animal husbandry experience with responsibilities that may include feeding animals, cleaning tanks and equipment, and providing treatment for diseased animals, and the successful completion of a dedicated course of research under the direction of an RWU biology faculty member.

Structural components
Internship/Workplace experience
International component
Laboratory training
Practical/Field work
Research Project


Students who declare biology and marine biology must achieve a minimum average grade of C- for BIO 103 and BIO 104 in order to advance in these majors. This minimum average grade is a prerequisite for all biology and marine biology courses at the 200-level or above. In order to be considered a candidate for a B.A. or B.S. in biology or marine biology, students must achieve a minimum grade point average of 2.00 (C) averaged over all required courses in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics.

ISCED Categories

Conservation and environmental management
Physical and chemical oceanography
Environmental protection technology