Marine biology is a diverse interdisciplinary study of salt water ecosystems and their inhabitants. Undergraduate and graduate studies in marine biology may lead to careers in marine research, fisheries, microbiology, systematics, ecology, mathematics, conservation and restoration. Due to specificity within the marine sciences, most positions require an advanced degree, and many marine biology students focus their studies on a particular ecosystem to gain the level of expertise necessary for top positions.
Schools proximate to the ocean rank highest in academic marine biology facilities and curriculum. In fact, only one school in Utah has a marine biology program. For students who must attend school in Utah, think about these biology-based degrees that lay the foundation for advanced study in marine biology.
Brigham Young University
This private university has several degree programs within the Biology Department. Undergraduate marine biology students take a marine biology course every winter semester, as well as participate in spring field semesters at marine research stations on the west coast and in partnership with the University of Oregon. The campus boasts large aquaria that students interact with during wet labs.
Southern Utah University
Southern Utah University students may choose one of four disciplines within biology: zoology, botany, forensics or teaching. In this particular program, zoology is best for a future marine biology student. This emphasis affords the student an opportunity to take specialized biology courses like invertebrate zoology, ichthyology, and bioinformatics. Students are also required to enroll in several chemistry courses, which provides an excellent interdisciplinary foundation before graduate school.
University of Utah
In the past ten years, the University of Utah Biology Department has seen a four-fold increase in enrollment. The University has a breadth of opportunities to meet this student demand. Scholarships are available for undergraduates, as are assistantships available for graduate students. Courses like biological chemistry, mathematical biology, prokaryotic genetics, and biological microscopy prepare the student for future studies in marine biology.
Utah State University
The Biology Department at Utah State University (USU) is a large, research-based department. There are many research opportunities with funding for undergraduates, especially in genetics and microbiology, which are key curricula for marine biology. Enroll in molecular genetics, phylogenetic systematics, cell biology and microbiology to prepare for advanced study in marine biology.
If you can not find the right marine biology program in Utah, augment your studies with a Sea Semester. Much like a study abroad experience, this academic program will transfer into your undergraduate transcript (arrange this before you go). Sea Semester affords students an interdisciplinary field-based marine biology experience. Students will engage in research as well as learn basic sailing and oceanography skills. There are several programs like Ocean Exploration, Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures and Ecosystems, Oceans and Climate, Documenting Change in the Caribbean, and Summer Session.
- jellyfish image by Brett Bouwer from Fotolia.com