UW undergraduates can earn an interdisciplinary minor in marine biology. Coursework in the minor includes exciting hands-on learning opportunities, such as field trips, internships, research, courses at UW's Friday Harbor Laboratories, and study abroad programs. We encouraged students to declare the marine biology minor during their freshmen or sophomore years and immediately join a small community of researchers and students interested in marine organisms, ecosystems, and conservation.
The marine biology minor combines courses from three UW departments and our marine station on San Juan Island:
- Oceanography studies the marine environment and its interactions with the earth, the biosphere, and the atmosphere. The field examines 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.
- Aquatic & Fishery Sciences (AFS) studies 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.
- Biology studies life from molecular, cellular, organismal, community, and global perspectives. The field examines 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.
- Friday Harbor Laboratories (FHL), UW's world-renowned marine station located on San Juan Island, offers marine biology courses and apprenticeships on a range of topics. Courses and research credits from FHL count toward the marine biology minor requirements. Marine biology minors are strongly encouraged to incorporate a quarter of study at FHL into their academic plans.
- 35 credits minimum
- Core coursework (18 credits)
- Approved electives (14 credits)
- Integrative experience (3 credits, may not be used for student's major requirements)
- Minimum of 2.0 cumulative GPA in all minor coursework
- Minimum 15 credits at the 300400 level
- 17 credits may overlap with student's major requirements, 5 credits may overlap with other minor requirements
Core Coursework (18 credits)
Students must take each of the following courses:
- FISH/BIOL/OCEAN 250 Marine Biology (5; Su, A)
- OCEAN 210 Integrated Oceans(Physics 114 or 121 recommended) (4; A)
- BIOL 180 Introduction to Biology (5; A, W, Sp, Su)
- Q Sci 381 Introduction to Probability and Statistics (5; A, W, Sp, Su)
Approved Electives (14 credits)
Students must take at least one course from each of the following departmental lists. Additional marine biology courses may be petitioned to count for the minor. Please note Friday Harbor Lab courses on the San Juan Island campus are included below. Number of credits and common quarters offered are also listed. Please contact email@example.com with questions:
- 430 Biological Oceanography (4; A)
- 431 Special Topics in Biological Oceanography (3; Sp)
- 454 Hydrothermal Systems: An Interdisciplinary View (3; W)
- 455 Introduction to Ocean Modeling (3; A)
- 481 Puget Sound and Estuary Oceanography (3; W)
- 482 The Changing Arctic Ocean (3; Sp)
- 496 Summer Exploration Seminar to Micronesia (5; Su)
- 492 Research Apprenticeship - Friday Harbor Labs Only
- Marine Sedimentary Processes (15; Sp)
- Pegagic Ecosystem Function in the San Juan Archipelago (15;A)
- 533 Marine Benthic Ecology (3; W - even years) (advanced undergrads by instructor permission)
Aquatic & Fishery Sciences (FISH)
- 310 Biology of Shellfishes (5, Sp)
- 311 Biology of Fishes (3/5; W)
- 312 Fisheries Ecology (3/5; Sp)
- 323 Conservation and Management of Aquatic Resources (5; A)
- 324 Aquatic Animal Physiology and Reproduction (3/5; W)
- 330 Climate Change Impacts on Marine Ecosystems (5; Sp)
- 404 Fish Diseases (5; Sp)
- 423 Aquatic Invasion Ecology (4; A)
- 424 Biology and Culture of Aquatic Organisms (5; Sp)
- 437 Fisheries Oceanography (4; W)
- 475 Marine Mammalogy (5; Sp)
- 491 Aquatic Ecological Research in Alaska (12; Su)
- 492A Marine Mammals and Birds (9; Su - Friday Harbor Labs Only)
- FHL 305 Biology of FIshes (5; A - Friday Harbor Labs Only)
- 311 Biology of Fishes (3/;, A)
- 423 Marine Ecological Processes (3; W)
- 432A Marine Invertebrate Zoology (9; Su - Friday Harbor Labs Only)
- 433 Marine Ecology (5; Sp - odd years)
- 434 Invertebrate Zoology (5; W, Sp, Su)
- 446 Biology of Algae (3; sp)
- 451 Invertebrate Paleontology (5; W)
- 533E Deep Sea Biodiversity, Connectivity & Ecosystem Function (9; Su - Friday Harbor Labs Only)
- 533F Functional Morphology & Ecology of Fishes (9; Su - Friday Harbor Labs Only)
- 533L Larval Biology (9; Su - Friday Harbor Labs Only)
- 536A Comparative Invertebrate Embryology (9; Su - Friday Harbor Labs Only)
- 539A Marine Algae (9; Su - Friday Harbor Labs Only)
- FHL 305 Biology of Fishes (5, Au - Friday Harbor Labs Only)
- FHL 430 Marine Zoology (5; Sp - Friday Harbor Labs Only)
- FHL 440 Marine Botany (5; Sp - Friday Harbor Labs Only)
FHL is UW’s marine station on San Juan Island. Minors are encouraged study at FHL and use courses and apprenticeships toward minor requirements. Visit this page for details on programs and how they count for the minor; most programs will count for a mix of core classes, electives, and the integrative experience:
- Marine Biology Quarter (14-17) - Autumn
- OCEAN 210 Integrated Oceans (4)
- FISH/BIOL/OCEAN 250 Marine Biology (5)
- FHL 305 Biology of Fishes (5)
- FHL 470 Research in Marine Biology (6)
- FHL 490 Marine Science Seminar (1)
- Marine Zoology Botany Quarter (16) - Spring
- FHL 430 Marine Zoology (5)
- FHL 440 Marine Botany (5)
- BIOL 479 Research Apprenticeship (6)
- Various Marine Biology Apprenticeships (15)
- BIOL 432 Marine Invertebrates (9)
- FISH 492 Marine Mammals and Birds (9)
- Various Graduate Level Courses (9)
Integrative experience credits cannot count toward the student‘s major. Students may use one of the following options to complete their integrative experience requirements:
- OCEAN/FISH/BIOL 477 Seminar in Marine Biology (3; W)
- Friday Harbor Labs' Research Apprenticeships (6-15)
- FISH/BIOL/OCEAN 479 Research in Marine Biology (3-15)
- OCEAN 496 Study Abroad: Summer Exploration Seminar to Micronesia (5)
- OCEAN 411 Special Topics Field Ocean (3) (depending on instructors & topic)
Students only should consider pursuing FISH/BIOL/OCEAN 479, outside of Friday Harbor Labs course offerings, if they already have worked for at least one quarter on independent research in faculty labs or affiliated internships and have taken FISH/BIOL/OCEAN 250 and Q Sci 381. Research credits must included a paper and a presentation to be eligible. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and the research contract.
Students can declare the minor at any time during their degrees, even if they have fewer than 90 credits. Students can declare the minor in the following ways:
- Email email@example.com and say "I want to declare the marine biology minor"
- Meet with the marine biology minor advisor. To set up an appointment email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit during drop-in hours
- Meet with any academic advisor and ask to add the minor
- Fill out the this Change of Major/Minor Form and turn it into the registrar in Schmitz 225. Just add your name, student number, and signature; you don't need an advisor to sign it.
If you are interested in the minor or have declared the minor, please contact the marine biology minor advisor, email@example.com, and set up an advising appointment to plan the minor courses and opportunities into your degree.
We strongly encouraged new minors to set up an appointment with the marine biology minor advisor through firstname.lastname@example.org to create an academic plan that works for them. We also encourage new minors to use the tools below in their academic planning process.
- Marine Biology Minor Requirement Checklist
- Marine Biology Minor Courses by Quarter
- Overlap Credit Key for Common Majors: Ocean, AFS, Biology, and Environmental Studies
- 4-Year Degree Overview with the Marine Biology Minor
Marine biology minors must have the marine biology minor advisor sign their graduation applications to verify that they have completed the minor requirements. Minors who have completed graduation applications with their major advisors, should set up minor advising appointments through email@example.com.
We strongly encourage marine biology minors to pursue research in faculty labs and research experiences and internships in the community early-on in their degrees.
To find research and internship opportunities, we recommend that students make it a habit to talk to faculty and TAs in their office hours about class topics and research opportunities in faculty labs. Many undergraduate research opportunities arise from classes. We also encourage students to familiarize themselves with what UW marine biology faculty are researching by visiting their lab webpages. In addition, students should visit these sites when seeking marine research opportunities:
- Oceanography Research Opportunities
- Aquatic & Fisheries Sciences Opportunities
- Biology Research Information
- Friday Harbor Laboratories Courses and Apprenticeships
- Undergraduate Research Program Listings, check marine biology, fisheries, biology, and oceanography
- Marine Biology Internship Listings
- College of the Environment Careers Blog
- Marine Biology Minor Email List-serve or Facebook Group
Students involved in research are eligible for a wide range of awards and grants. Students seeking funding for research should start by looking at the scholarship listings on our FAQ page.
Photos from top: Stubby squid holding hands, by Audrey Djunaedi; FISH/BIOL/OCEAN 250 class lab, by Kristian Haapa-aho; Elephant seal, by Amanda Bradford; Sea grass experiment, by Tiffany Stephans; Tiffany Stephans, from Tiffany Stephans; FISH/BIOL/OCEAN 250 field trip and trawl; by Claire Horner-Devine; FHL apprentices surveying mammals and birds; by Emily Beyer; Otter and mussels, by Kristian Haapa-aho; Geoduck histology slide, by Cindi Perez; Cindi Perez analyzing geoduck tissue, by Emily Beyer