Majors & Programs

Marine Biology

New Program for Fall 2023

Degrees Offered: BS

Ichthyology research at Trinidad beach

Utilizing the living laboratory of the Pacific Ocean and North Coast is one of the huge advantages of the Cal Poly Humboldt Marine Biology degree. You’ll get real-world experience on and in the ocean, beaches, and other marine habitats.

Marine Biology emphasizes hands-on learning. We have outstanding facilities to support our marine biology major, including the Telonicher Marine Laboratory in the nearby town of Trinidad, which gives students opportunities for hands-on observation and experimentation with living marine organisms. The unique setting of this lab, just minutes away from the ocean, estuary, and lagoon habitats, provides students with unlimited research opportunities.

Our research vessel, the 90’ R/V Coral Sea, is the only ocean-going vessel in America dedicated to undergraduate research. Students travel on board this vessel to observe whales offshore, collect and examine seawater samples, as well as trawl for marine fishes and invertebrates. Several smaller boats are used in nearshore waters, coastal lagoons, and in nearby Humboldt Bay.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify and classify marine microbes, algae, invertebrates, fishes, birds and mammals, in the context of a phylogenetic framework.
  • Describe how marine life functions at the gene, genome, cell, tissue, organ and organ-system level. They will be able to describe the development, reproduction, and behavior of different forms of marine life and use ecological and evolutionary principles to explain how these organisms perform their functions in an environmental context.
  • Relate the physical features of the marine environment to the structure of marine populations, communities, and ecosystems and explain how they are affected by human activities.
  • Explain how descent with modification has shaped all biological processes and why biological evolution offers the only logical scientific explanation for the simultaneous unity and diversity of life on earth.
  • Apply the scientific method to questions in marine biology by formulating testable hypotheses, gathering data that address these hypotheses, and analyzing those data to assess the degree to which their scientific work supports their hypotheses.
  • Present scientific hypotheses and data both orally and in writing in the formats that are used by practicing scientists.


Humboldt marine biology graduates have many job opportunities:

  • Marine Biologist
  • Teacher
  • Field Biologist
  • Aquarium Manager
  • Museum Curator
  • Science Librarian
  • Laboratory Technician
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Microbiologist
  • Biotechnology Research Technician
  • Medical Scientists
  • Environmental Planners and Scientists
  • Biological Technicians
  • Researchers/Research Associates
  • Laboratory Managers
Science-B 221

Degrees & Requirements

More Information

Paul Bourdeau

Sean Craig