While many schools offer programs in biology, finding those with the facilities and expertise needed for an advanced study of marine life can be more challenging, especially if you have a specialization in mind. Some of the nation's top marine biology programs can be found on both coasts and cover a broad spectrum of specializations.

Boston University

Boston University campus at twilight.
Boston University campus at twilight.

Boston University's Marine Program, known as BUMP, is an undergraduate-level program focusing on core science courses, including general studies in chemistry and physics, to complement its classes on marine geology, biology and oceanography. Courses are also available in policy topics and the spatial dynamics of ocean systems. Undergraduate students in BUMP are expected to complete a marine semester of four research-focus courses, studying at marine sanctuaries in Cape Cod and Belize. BUMP also offers master's and doctoral degrees in conjunction with BU's departments of Biology and Earth & The Environment.

Duke University

Close-up of Duke University building.
Close-up of Duke University building.

Biology is the most popular major at Duke, located in Durham, NC, with marine biology offered as a concentration within the major. However, the university's Nichols School of the Environment also offers a certificate in marine science and conservation leadership, as well as bachelor's degrees in environmental sciences and earth and ocean sciences for students interested in studying biodiversity, climate change or environmental policy. Students in the environmental sciences program study in the field at Duke's marine lab, located on North Carolina's east coast, in Beaufort.

University of Miami

University of Miami campus.
University of Miami campus.

The University of Miami in Florida is located in suburban Coral Gables and enrolls 15,000 students. The university's marine science bachelor's degree program is a double major encompassing a core science focus -- such as chemistry or geology -- and a marine science major at the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. In addition to biology, chemistry and physics, students in the marine science program may also choose a concentration in meteorology or computer science, learning how to create and interpret digital models of ocean systems. The University of Miami also offers graduate-level degrees in marine policy and ocean engineering -- the study of marine infrastructure such as port facilities and oil rigs.

University of California at Santa Barbara

University of Santa Barbara housing building.
University of Santa Barbara housing building.

UC's location in Santa Barbara is home to the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, which offers a specialized bachelor's degree program in aquatic biology. The school's location on the Pacific coast allows students to directly study ocean life in the field at California's marine sanctuaries. The program emphasizes the interrelation between different marine species, particularly the roles that plankton and other microorganisms play in ocean environments. In addition to concentrations in marine biology and biological oceanography, the marine science program offers a focus in limnology -- the study of inland waters such as lakes, rivers and wetlands.

University of Maine

Maine oceanside.
Maine oceanside.

Located in Orono, the University of Maine enrolls over 7,000 students and is listed as one of the National Science Foundation's top 100 research schools in the country. The university's marine science program offers concentrations in the physical sciences, such as geology and oceanography, as well as marine biology and aquaculture -- the study of how ocean resources are utilized. Students in the marine sciences may also participate in the Semester by the Sea -- a hands-on 16-week semester located in the school's Darling Marine Center on the Gulf of Maine -- during their junior and senior years.