URI Marine Biology Program

College of the Environment and Life Sciences

FAQ’s

Please send additional questions to urimbio@etal.uri.edu and the answers will be posted here.

What are the requirements to get into the Marine Biology program?

Why should I major in Marine Biology?

If I am a Marine Biology major, can I do a minor or double major in other subjects?

I’ve heard that if you want to be a marine biologist that you should not major in marine biology. This makes no sense. What do they mean?

What is the difference between Marine Biology and Oceanography?

What sorts of research do marine biologists do?

How is the Marine Biology major different from the major in Biological Sciences? 

I want to work with marine mammals in an Aquarium, what should I major in and what courses should I take?

I want to study sharks, what should I major in and what courses should I take?

I want to go to Medical School/Dental School/Vet School – can I still major in Marine Biology?

Is there such a thing as marine animal medicine?

Why should I make an appointment to see my faculty advisor each semester?

What kind of study abroad programs are there for Marine Biology majors?

Are undergraduates allowed to take graduate courses?

How do I find a summer job in the field of marine biology?

I want to learn to SCUBA dive and become a certified diver? Who should I talk to?

What sorts of jobs can I get after graduation with a major in marine biology?

What are alums of the marine biology program doing since they graduated? 

What are the requirements to get into the Marine Biology program?
There are currently no specific requirements for getting into the Marine Biology program beyond those requirements for admission to URI. However, we strongly recommend that any student wanting to pursue the BS Marine Biology take as much science and math as they can in high school. This should include Biology, Chemistry, Physics and at least 11th grade Algebra/Trigonometry, or Precalculus (or calculus).
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Why should I major in Marine Biology? 
Because:
- you have a sincere interest in learning about the marine environment and the marine organisms that live in it.
- you want to be an informed citizen and voter. Many issues of current concern involve policies relating to the use and conservation of the oceans and coastal habitats, and the exploitation of marine resources (including those for food and fuel).
– you are curious about the oceans and marine life and you have the desire to become a marine biologist.
- your interests will lead you into a career in marine-related industry, education, or work with a marine or environmentally related governmental agency or non-profit organization locally or on an international level. (top)

If I am a Marine Biology major, can I do a minor or a double major in other subjects?
Yes. You may do a minor or double major in any subject within the university (with the exception of Biology or Biological Sciences, because these degree programs are administered by the same department as the Marine Biology major), but doing a minor is not required. Consult your advisor for more information.(top)

I’ve heard that if you want to be a marine biologist that you should not major in marine biology. This makes no sense. What do they mean? 
It is essential that undergraduates do not specialize too soon, and that marine biology majors, especially those who intend to be professional marine biologists, obtain a strong foundation in a range of subdisciplines in modern biological sciences and the other scientific disciplines. Marine biology programs at some institutions may include only marine-related courses. This is not ideal, and this is the reason why our BS Marine Biology curriculum requires that students take Chemistry, Calculus, and Physics and four core courses in different subdisciplines in biological sciences in addition to marine biology electives.(top)

What is the difference between Marine Biology and Oceanography?
Simply put, Oceanography is the study of the oceans and the biological, chemical, physical and geological processes that occur within it. It is traditionally an interdisciplinary field studied in graduate school and requires undergraduate training in biology (or marine biology), chemistry, physics and/or geology. Marine Biology is the study of the biology of the organisms that live in the oceans. As such it is a subdiscipline of biology, but has some overlap with biological oceanography. (top)

What sorts of research do marine biologists do? 
Marine biologists do all sorts of research with marine organisms in the lab and in the field. They ask questions at all levels of organization: cell and molecular biology, genetics, anatomy, development, physiology, behavior, ecology and evolution. Consult the research descriptions of faculty members at URI. A quick look at the Table of Contents of one of the major marine biology journals (e.g., Marine BiologyMarine Ecology Progress SeriesJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology) will give you an idea about the types of marine biological research going on right now around the world. (top)

How is the Marine Biology major different from the major in Biological Sciences? 
Both majors require general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, calculus and physics and four core courses in biological sciences. While the BS in Biological Sciences requires a course in microbiology, and at least one course in plant biology, the BS Marine Biology curriculum requires students to take oceanography and then to fill out their 36 credits of biology courses with marine biology electives.(top)

I want to work with marine mammals in an Aquarium, what should I major in and what courses should I take?
This is a highly specialized area that few people in the country work in. A student would be advised to take courses in organismal biology (Invertebrate Biology, Vertebrate Biology, Fish Biology, Marine Mammals), and courses in aquaculture and aquatic animal diseases to prepare for aquarium work in general. A student who wants to work with marine mammals should also take courses in animal behavior and other courses on marine mammals if they are available. Volunteer work at an Aquarium or stranding program is generally required for entrance into this competitive field. Check out the Society for Marine Mammalogy website(top)

I want to study sharks, what should I major in and what courses should I take?
The study of sharks is a specialized subfield within the fields of ichthyology and marine biology. Students should major in Marine Biology or Biological Sciences and take courses in Vertebrate Biology, Fish Biology, Ichthyology and more specialized courses, if they are available. Drs. Wilga + Wetherbee study different aspects of the biology of sharks. (top)

I want to go to Medical School/Dental School/Vet School – can I still major in Marine Biology? 
Yes. If you have a strong interest in the marine environment and marine organisms, you should major in marine biology.  Like the BS in Biological Science, the BS in Marine Biology curriculum includes those courses that are required for admission to Medical, Dental and Veterinary School.  However, it is recommended that all students take several additional courses.  (top)

Is there such a thing as marine animal medicine? 
Yes. It is a specialized subfield of veterinary medicine. Students interested in this field should major in biology, marine biology, animal science, or aquaculture, and should they pursue graduate education and/or admission to veterinary school. Check out the Society for Marine Mammalogy website.(top)

Why should I make an appointment to see my faculty advisor each semester? 
It is very important for you to interact with faculty on a one-on-one basis, and for faculty to get to know you well. Your faculty advisor can tell you about courses that suit your particular interests and satisfy your graduation requirements. He/she can also help you find out about summer field courses, job/internship/research opportunities, the graduate school application process, and how to seek out jobs after graduation. If your faculty advisor knows you well, and if you need a letter of recommendation for job/internship opportunities, he/she will be able to write an informative letter that will help you achieve your goal.  Remember, your advisor IS a marine biologist and is thus your best professional resource.  (top)

What kind of study abroad programs are there for Marine Biology majors? 
There are several study abroad programs in marine biology including The URI in Bermuda Program and the Woods Hole Sea Semester Program. Several students have gone to James Cook University in Australia and the University of Hawaii. Marine Biology majors are not limited to study abroad programs in Marine Biology. Students may also study abroad and take courses that satisfy their General Education requirements in literature, history, fine arts, etc. See the Study Abroad page for more information about opportunities . (top)

Are undergraduates allowed to take graduate courses?
Yes. If you are a junior or senior with a high GPA you should talk to the professor who is teaching the course to find out if he/she will allow you to take it. (top)

How do I find a summer job in the field of marine biology?
Summer jobs advertised in e-mails sent out by the Marine Biology program (“News and Notices”). You also need to be creative and use your contacts. Talk to your professors, your classmates and upperclassmen to find out what they know about or what they have done during the summer or see our “About Our Students” pageURI has three programs that offer summer research opportunities, see our “Research Opportunities & Internships” page for more information. The marine biology peer mentors are also a useful resource, they keep a notebook listing job, internship, study abroad and graduate school oportunities. (top)

I want to learn to SCUBA dive and become a certified diver? Who should I talk to?
The URI Dive Safety Office (DSO) offers SCUBA diving courses (AFS 270, 433) for credit. The URI SCUBA Club also has opportunities to get your basic SCUBA certifications. Local resources outside of the university (reputable dive shops) also offer certification courses. Consult the URI Diving Safety Program home page or talk to your advisor for more information. (top)

What sorts of jobs can I get after graduation with a major in marine biology? 
Marine biology majors have training in biology, chemistry, physics, calculus (and statistics), oceanography and marine biology. As such students would be qualified for any job that requires a BS, a BS in biology, or training in marine biology and oceanography. The possibilities are varied and are not limited to employment as a marine biologist, per se. Students are encouraged to consult the Career Center and to talk with their professors and advisors about job opportunities. You might want to check out OceanCareers.com for an excellent overview of careers in marine biology and oceanography. (top)

What are alumni of the Marine Biology Program doing since they graduated? 
Our alums are in research, policy, education, law, business and other fields. See the Alumni page for additional information about the career paths our alumni have taken. (top)

 


Find more information…
About Our Students

About Our Students

Profiles of our incoming freshmen to the BS Marine Biology major and a listing of what our students do in the summer.
Learn more

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