Preparing in High School | Majoring in Marine Biology | Courses for Transfer Students | Changing Careers | Scholarships | Marine Mammals at UW | SCUBA Opportunities | Pre-Vet Students | Mailed Information | Meeting with an Advisor | Marine Biology Tours

Preparing in High School

We encourage high school students interested in marine biology at UW to complete high school pre-calculus and calculus, as well as at least one unit each of biology, physical science, and chemistry in combination with the UW College Academic Distribution Requirements. Students are also encouraged to do volunteer work or internships in the field. In addition, high school students should seek out opportunities to do as much writing as possible. Students entering the sciences usually don’t realize how important writing is both to college success and their future careers in science. 

Studying Marine Biology at UW

The faculty and scientists studying marine biology at UW work in various departments across campus, rather than in a single “marine biology” department. Because of this, marine biology courses are offered through different departments. Students interested in marine biology generally declare Oceanography, Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, or Biology as their majors. They then select courses to match their interest in marine biology and pursue opportunities to do research with faculty who study topics in marine biology. Many students interested in marine biology will also spend a quarter studying at our marine field station, Friday Harbor Laboratories.

Students who would like to major in marine biology are encouraged to add the marine biology minor at any time during their university experience. The minor can even be added during your first quarter on campus! The minor requires courses Biology, Oceanography, and Aquatic & Fishery Sciences courses, with the goal of helping marine biology students approach research problems through a multi-perspective lens. The marine biology minor can also act as a gateway for helping students select courses and connect with research and experiential learning opportunities with a marine biology focus.


Courses for Transfer Students

To facilitate a smooth entry into the UW, transfer students should complete the suggested courses outlined on the transfer planning worksheets for one of the three majors related to marine biology:

We encourage transfer students to work toward an associate’s degree at their community colleges, but the UW no longer prefers that students complete an A.S. before they apply for admission. Students may apply to UW at any point.

The most important tool for transfer students coming from Washington State community colleges is the Course Equivalency Guide, which should be used in combination with the transfer planning worksheets to plan courses before transfer.

Students transferring from other institutions may contact to receive assistance regarding pre-transfer coursework. 

We also encourage prospective transfer students wanting to pursue marine biology at UW to continue learning about the marine sciences and to get involved in internships and research by exploring opportunities listed in Set Sail or downloading our Resources for Prospective Transfer Students handout.


Changing Careers

Prospective students who already have bachelor’s degrees but want to go back to school for career training in the marine sciences should consider applying to graduate school or taking the appropriate steps to apply for post-bachelor’s degrees at UW.

For graduate school in marine biology, students should explore the requirements for these departments:

Prospective students with bachelor’s degrees who are not ready for graduate school in the marine sciences should consider working toward post-bacs in Oceanography, Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, or Biology.

One option for prospective post-bacs is to take pre-requisite courses at community colleges, using the transfer guide above in Courses for Transfer Students.

The second option would be to take classes at UW as a non-matriculated/non-enrolled student. To do this, students need to enroll through UW Educational Outreach.

Students should apply for post-bacs through UW Admissions.



Various Scholarships are available to students studying marine biology at UW.  Please check out the following programs for more information:

UW Scholarhships for Marine Biology Students

College of the Environment offers a range of scholarships for incoming students and undergraduate research.

Oceanography offers scholarships for incoming students who declare oceanography as their major on their UW applications and for continuing oceanography majors.

Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (AFS) also offers scholarships for incoming students who declare the AFS major on their UW applications and for continuing AFS majors.

Biology offers scholarships for declared biology majors. Students can declare the biology major after taking a few introductory chemistry and biology courses.

Friday Harbor Labs, UW’s marine station on San Juan Island, offers stipends and financial aid for students who study and apprentice on-site.

Carlson Center offers fellowships and awards to students who are committed and interested in public service.  In particular, we encourage marine biology students interested in teaching to explore the Carlson Center’s offerings including the Students in Service program. 

Howard Hughes Medical Institute opportunities for undergraduates include the Biology Fellows Program for beginning students interested in biology, the Integrative Research Internship Program and the Friday Harbor Labs Research Apprenticeship Program for undergraduate researchers, and the Science and Society Seminar Series and Undergraduate Research Symposium for all students.

Levinston Emerging Scholars Program supports motivated UW juniors and seniors to pursue independent research in genetics, neuroscience, biochemistry, bioengineering, bioinformatics, and related fields in the life sciences.

Mary Gates Endowment for Students offers UW undergraduate students across all disciplines funding for research, leadership, and venture projects.

UW’s Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards offers funding workshops, tools, and databases for prospective and current UW students.

Washington Research Foundation Fellowship supports advanced undergraduates who work on science and engineering research projects under the guidance of UW faculty.

Wilson Fellowship and Noyce Scholars Programs offer funding for science, math, and engineering graduates pursuing teaching careers and Masters in Education at UW.


Funding from Unaffliated Sources and Programs

We also encourage prospective and current UW students to seek scholarships from organizations outside of UW. Here's a listing of a few scholarship and funding opportunities:

Associated Women in Science Seattle Chapter (AWIS) offers scholarships annually based on academic excellence, financial need, motivation to pursue a science-based career, and a record of giving back to their communities.

Marine Aquarium Societies of North America offers a scholarship for undergraduates studying the marine sciences.

NOAA's Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program provides one year of academic support and a summer internship to students majoring in a discipline area related to NOAA's programs and mission

National Geographic Young Explorer Grants provide funding for students to pursue research experiences in the field.

National Ocean Scholar Program provides tuition assistance for National Ocean Sciences Bowl students who have an interest in pursuing an ocean or a marine science in their post-high school education.

Puget Sound Anglers Scholarships for students wishing to pursue a bachelor's degree or higher in fisheries, with an emphasis in fish management.

Women Divers Hall of Fame Scholarships for women student divers studying a range of topics including marine conservation or participating in research internships in marine biology.


Marine Mammals at UW

UW marine biology students have studied marine mammals by:


SCUBA Opportunities

We recommend that UW students interested in SCUBA diving get an open water certification, document 20 dives, and take Friday Harbor Labs (FHL) 8-day scientific diving class in combination with a FHL program of study. Here's a step-by-step list of resources to help you:

Get Open Water Certified and Document 20 Dives

The Aquatic and Fishery Sciences student group has a discount for open water certifications with a local retailer.  

The Underdawgs is UW’s SCUBA Group and is active again, via Facebook. They have a discount for open water certifications with a local retailer and organize dives.

Northwest Diving Club is a website for NW divers to meet and organize dives.

FHL Scientific Diving Course

FHL's 8-day Scientific Diving Course is a September non-credit course. Students can take this course to do diving research. The course requires an open water certification and 20 documented dives. 

Great FHL Programs for Scientific Divers

FHL Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) - some of these REU projects involve SCUBA.

Marine Biology Quarter – SCUBA students can request a SCUBA apprenticeship for this fall program.

Spacial Ecology of Salish Sea Benthos Apprenticeship – sampling techniques in this fall apprenticeship involve SCUBA diving.

All FHL Programs in Tandem with the Scientific Diving Course - students who take the scientific diving class at FHL and then spend a quarter studying at the labs are often used by FHL scientists and graduate students for research help during a program of study.


Pre-Vet Students

We train many students who are interested in marine biology and a veterinary graduate degree. Pre-vet students can pick any UW major and complete the minimum coursework required for most vet programs. Many UW natural science majors already require this coursework for their degree programs including Oceanography, Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, and Biology. A marine biology minor also fits nicely with the pre-vet curriculum.


Mailed Information

If you would like information sent to you, please send an email request to, or explore the pertinent webpages and download the flyers listed below.

We encourage prospective students to learn more about the marine biology minor and related undergraduate majors by following these links:

Marine Biology Minor

Friday Harbor Labs


Aquatic & Fishery Sciences



Meet with an Advisor

Please email the marine biology adviser to set up an appointment: