Area of Focus
  • Environmental Science & Sustainability
Degrees Offered
  • B.S.
Academic Division
  • Physical and Biological Sciences
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Program overview

The marine biology major is designed to introduce students to marine ecosystems, including the great diversity of marine organisms and their coastal and oceanic environments. The emphasis is on basic principles that help us to understand the processes that shape life in marine environments. The marine biology major is a demanding program that offers a B.S. degree and requires several more courses than the general biology B.A. major. Students with bachelor’s degrees in marine biology find employment opportunities in a variety of fields. In conjunction with a teaching credential or graduate degree in teaching, students often use their marine biology background to teach science at the K–12 level.

Student putting a tracking device on an elephant seal at Año Nuevo

Learning Experience

The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department, including classrooms, laboratory spaces, research facilities, and more, is located in the Coastal Biology Building on the UC Santa Cruz Coastal Science Campus. Running seawater laboratory classrooms and live marine life facilities allow for experiential learning in the marine biology major.

Study and Research Opportunities
  • Undergraduate degree: Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
  • The hallmark of this major: the large number of lab and field courses that provide students with opportunities to study and conduct research in diverse marine ecosystems
  • A wide variety of courses focused on marine topics
  • Numerous field and laboratory marine courses, including immersive quarter-long field programs, in which students conduct varied research projects
  • Intensive Education Abroad programs in Costa Rica (tropical ecology), Australia (marine sciences), and beyond
  • An array of opportunities to work with marine-oriented federal agencies, state agencies, research institutions, and non-profit organizations in the Monterey Bay area for directed faculty- and/or department-sponsored independent study

First-Year (Freshman) Requirements

In addition to the courses required for UC admission, high school students who intend to major in marine biology should take high school courses in biology, chemistry, advanced mathematics (precalculus and/or calculus), and physics.

Professor and students outside examining marine mammal skeleton

Transfer Requirements

This is a screening major. The faculty encourage applications from students who are prepared to transfer into the marine biology major at the junior level. Transfer applicants are screened by Admissions for completion of required equivalents of calculus, general chemistry, and introductory biology courses prior to transfer.  

California community college students should follow the prescribed coursework in the UCSC transfer agreements available at for course equivalency information.


Student at a touch tank at Seymour Marine Center

Internships and Career Opportunities


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department degrees are designed to prepare students to go on to:

  • Graduate and professional programs
  • Positions in industry, government, or NGO’s



apartment Coastal Biology Building 105A, 130 McAllister Way 
phone (831) 459-5358