The UW currently does not have a “marine biology” major, but we train many future marine biologists. Instead of majoring in "marine biology," our marine biology students usually major in Oceanography, Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, or Biology. They also:

Read more about these three majors and FHL:


UW's Oceanography unique undergraduate program ranks number one out of the handful of oceanography programs offered in the US. Oceanography majors study the marine environment and its interactions with the earth, the biosphere, and the atmosphere. They examine the larger picture of the marine world the global processes governing the distribution, abundances, and interactions of life, chemicals, geological formations, and motion in the seas.

Incoming freshmen can declare this major on their admissions applications and become eligible for great scholarships. A degree in oceanography has room for many marine biology electives and the following options for tailored study:squid

Take a closer look at what oceanography majors get to do by exploring:

Aquatic & Fishery Sciences

Aquatic & Fishery Sciences (AFS) majors study aquatic environments, the distribution and abundance of marine and freshwater species, and the sustainable use of ocean resources. AFS students explore the biology of aquatic organisms, the ecology of aquatic communities and habitats, and the issues surrounding resource conservation and management.

Incoming freshmen can declare the AFS major on their admissions applications and become eligible for great scholarships. The majority of AFS courses explore marine related topics. As majors, students decide between the following focus areas:

Take a closer look at what AFS majors get to do by exploring:


Biology majors study life from molecular, cellular, organismal, community, and global perspectives. They examine the origins and evolution of organisms, as well as chemical and cellular processes, physiology, behavior, and relationships to the environment and to larger populations across ecosystems.

Incoming freshmen must take a general biology course before declaring the biology major. Biology majors can select marine biology electives and choose an area of concentration from:

Take a closer look at what biology majors get to do by exploring:

Friday Harbor Laboratories

Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL) is UW's world-renowned marine station located on San Juan Island.  All UW marine biology students are strongly encouraged to incorporate a quarter of study at FHL into their academic plans.  squid

Students studying and apprenticing at FHL live on-site, conduct their own research, and work closely with UW faculty and visiting scientists from around the world. Intensive courses and apprenticeships run spring through autumn quarter. Funding and scholarships are also available.

Take a closer look at what FHL students get to do by exploring:

Other Majors Related to Marine Biology


Photos from top: FHL trawl for Zoo/Bot Quarter, by Audrey Djunaedi; Ocean 444, the senior cruise in Glacier Bay, from the 444 site; Dr. Gallucci with salmon shark, from his lab site; Dr. Ruesink in oyster fields at Willapa Bay, from her lab site; FHL students jumping off dock, by Audrey Djunaedi