Marine biology covers a wide spectrum that is useful in a variety of fields, ranging from research and education to commercial and conservation. A career in marine biology offers many opportunities for discovery, as new species are being recorded regularly. The range of opportunities in this field is broad, so consider where you want to specialize, and your geographic limitations when looking for the right college to earn a degree.

Colleges By The Ocean

Although there are some very good colleges that offer degrees in marine biology in places like Kansas and Missouri, many students prefer paying higher out-of-state tuition costs to study marine biology by the ocean where they can have hands-on experiences in their daily studies. Located steps from the Pacific Ocean in La Jolla, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, with its famous Birch aquarium right in its own backyard, offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in marine biology. If you are especially passionate about the marine life of Southern California and want immediate access to the water, institutions like Scripps, U.C. San Diego and U.C. Santa Barbara are excellent choices.

Online Colleges

The pickings are slim when it comes to finding an online college that offers a degree in marine biology, but there are a few of them out there. The University of West Florida’s online campus offers a degree in Maritime Studies that focuses on ocean conservation while familiarizing students with the natural resources of the ocean environment. Nova Southeastern University offers a B.A. in marine biology to distance learning students who either can’t complete their degrees from a physical campus, or who opt for the online classroom as a way to accommodate their hectic daytime schedules.

Colleges With Internships

Internships provide one of the fastest ways to find the best career opportunities. Some students study at universities and colleges that offer internships for this reason alone. If you want to earn a degree in marine biology from an institution located on the ocean and that has a respected internship program, consider University of Washington. Students have opportunities to work within scores of programs, including COASST Marine Conservation, NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center internships and Friday Harbor Laboratories Apprenticeships. Other learning institutes that offer internships in marine biology include University of North Carolina, Wilmington, Columbia University and New College of Florida.

Top Colleges

Some students want to attend the top universities in the country. Forbes collaborated with the Washington D.C.–based Center for College Affordability and Productivity to rank colleges according to what matters the most to students: great career prospects, quality of teaching, low levels of debt and high graduation rates. Forbes' top five universities in America that offer degrees in marine biology include Princeton, Stanford, University of Chicago, Yale and Harvard. But keep in mind this list is according to personal perspective. If your passion for marine biology is in the coastal Pacific region or the Gulf Coast, you obviously don’t want to attend Princeton. Instead, review the various lists and how they are ranked, and invest wisely in your future according to your unique needs.

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