Marine biologists perform a number of roles, from tagging and tracking great white sharks at the Guadalupe Islands to training dolphins at marine parks. They study all the organisms found in the oceans, including animals, plants and microbes. Becoming a marine biologist requires earning a college degree in marine biology by satisfying degree requirements that may include exams, laboratory work, internships, research and various courses in the marine biology curriculum.


Nearly every undergraduate curriculum in marine biology requires students to take a number of chemistry classes. Chemistry courses teach aspiring marine biologists the theories, laws and fundamentals of chemistry with an emphasis on chemical bonding, atomic structure, classification of elements, reaction kinetics, solutions and equilibrium all within an oceanic context. Fairleigh Dickinson University's curriculum provides a perfect example of the chemistry expectations placed on most undergraduate students. Before earning the B.S. in marine biology there, students must first complete General Chemistry I and II with accompanying labs, General Organic Chemistry I and II with labs and Biochemistry.


As many marine biologists travel the world working in oceans and seas across the planet, having an advanced knowledge of geography is important. Many curriculums, such as the marine biology major offered at the University of California, Los Angeles, include geography as a course to be taken within the context of a physical, chemical or geological oceanographic setting. Depending on the geographic location of a body of water, it can contain various organisms determined in part by elevation, climate and salinity, among a number of other conditions. UCLA requires students to complete four units from a choice of nine different geography courses.

Written and Oral Communication

Most marine biologists are required to take courses in written and oral communication. Marine biologists are expected to communicate their findings and research efficiently with government organizations, museums, universities, non-profits and a number of other institutions that help fund various research projects. These classes can include communications, creative writing or a number of English and literature courses. For example, Barry University requires students in its marine biology program to complete nine credits of written and oral communication. Most colleges allow students to choose these classes from an approved list.


Physics is a large part of most marine biology curriculums, as it is a core component of the field. Physics is a mathematical science used by marine biologists in multiple tasks that range from technical scuba diving to tracking the amount of energy sharks use when chasing their prey. Marine biologists use physics to study how heat, light and sound play roles in how oceanic organisms function. Hawaii Pacific University requires students enrolled in its marine biology B.S. program to complete various laboratory-based physics courses before they can graduate.