Marine Biology Masters Degrees

Marine biology graduate programs prepare students for work as researchers and scientists in private research labs, for government entities, and for conservation or environmental protection agency jobs. Most employers prefer students to have completed marine biology master's degree programs before entering the workforce, because these advanced training programs typically include a semester or more of fieldwork studies and give students a chance to participate in research projects.


Marine biologist graduate programs are very research-intensive and involve lab work and hands-on training. If you are considering a career a marine biologist, take some time to learn about the different marine biology master's degree programs and graduate programs available in your state.

Specializations within Marine Biology Master's Degree Programs

Many schools that offer marine biology master's degree programs are located near the coast so that students have easy access to ocean-based research facilities and environments to perform their lab work. Some marine biologist graduate programs also include dive programs where students have a chance to collect, care for and feed different types of marine mammals and organisms. Since the field of marine biology is so broad, students typically choose an area of specialization at some point of their marine biology master's degree program.

Some specializations or areas of study within marine biology graduate programs include:

  • Molecular biology
  • Coastal field biology
  • Environmental ethics
  • Biological oceanography
  • Marine chemistry
  • Ecosystem management
  • Microbial ecology
  • Geobiology
  • Oceanography
  • Conservation
  • Environmental biology

Requirements for Marine Biologist Graduate Programs

Students interested in getting a marine biology master's degree need to have a bachelor's degree in biology or a related science, and a strong background in mathematics, physical science and natural science. Marine biologist graduate programs typically require students to complete at least one semester or more of their training at a dedicated facility or to study abroad. Students need to be prepared to travel, and possibly move to a costal campus to fulfill all requirements for marine biologist graduate programs. Some graduate programs require students to have completed at least one semester or summer as an internship. Many students choose to complete an internship during the summer of undergraduate studies so that they can acquire some experience before entering graduate school.

Many schools offering marine biology master's degree programs also have the following requirements:

  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Submit official college transcripts from all educational institutions attended
  • Submit proof of a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution (preferably a science-related degree)
  • Meet minimum score requirements for the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Marine biology graduate programs are typically available from four-year public and private colleges and universities located in coastal locations around the country. However, some of the largest marine biology graduate schools are located in major cities and states that are not along the coast.

Many graduate schools offer interdisciplinary programs, dual-degree programs and have created independent research projects tailored for students interested in a particular specialization. For example, a student may choose to complete a research project in the field of oceanography, chemistry, geo-biology and population dynamics as a part of their marine biology master's degree program experience.