Program overview

Kick off your research by strolling down to our dock, boarding one of our research vessels, and sailing to our privately owned island. Our seaside campus, located where the Saco River converges with the Atlantic Ocean, is the ideal place to earn your Marine Sciences degree, introducing you to all facets of life in oceans, freshwater, and estuaries. Majors can choose between two tracks: Marine Biology or Oceanography.

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Why UNE for Marine Sciences

Unlike other universities with satellite campuses, our location on the scenic shores of coastal Maine gives you access to a 3,500-mile living laboratory where you can learn and explore — all within steps from the residence halls.

Headshot of U N E student Ashlee Griffith

My internship helped me apply the knowledge my UNE classes have given me outside of the classroom. I was able to compare my first-hand experience to things I learned in class at UNE. 

Animal Behavior, Marine Sciences (Marine Biology Track)

Academics

There are many ways you can navigate this major. We even have a 4+1 B.S./M.S. track that lets you complete your undergraduate and master’s degrees in just five years.

Examples of Available Courses

The following are just some examples of the exciting courses that the Marine Sciences major offers:

  • Underwater Robotics
  • Experimental Animal Physiology
  • Biology of Sharks, Skates, and Rays
  • Marine Mammal Policy
  • The Scientific Basis for Global Climate Change
  • Polar Biology
  • Oceanography

Tracks

As a Marine Sciences major, you may choose one of two tracks:

The Marine Biology Track

You study marine organisms and the ecosystems upon which they depend.

The Oceanography Track

You study the physical, chemical, and geological basis of all biological life in the ocean.

Curriculum

CAS Core Requirements Credits
Total 42–46
Marine Biology Track Curriculum Credits
MAR 105/105L - Introduction to Ecol/Evol of Marine Organisms 4
MAR 106/106L - Introduction to Cell/Molec of Marine Organisms 4
MAR 250/250L - Marine Biology 4
MAR 270/270L - Oceanography 4
Total 40–44
Area Courses Credits
Organismal Area Course 3–4
Process Area Course 3–4
Physiological Area Course 3–4
Cellular and Molecular Area Course 3–4
Marine Science Electives 8
Program Required Cognate Courses 23
CHE 110/110L - General Chemistry I 4
CHE 111/111L - General Chemistry II 4
MAR 325 - Marine Science Speaker Series 1
MAR 400 - Level course 3
MAT 150 - Statistics for Life Sciences and MAT 190 - Calculus I 3
PHY 110 - General Physics I w/Lab 4
PHY 111 - General Physics II w/Lab 4
Program Track Subtotal 63–67
Open Electives (as needed to reach 120 credits) Variable
Minimum Required Credits 120

OCEANOGRAPHY TRACK

Oceanography Track Required Courses Credits
CHE 110/110L - General Chemistry I 4
CHE 111/111L - General Chemistry II 4
CHE 210/210L/210S - Organic Chemistry I and CHE 211/211L/211S - Organic Chemistry II or CHE 210/210L/210S - Organic Chemistry I and CHE 310/310L - Fundamentals of Biochemistry 9-10
MAR 105/105L - Introduction to Ecol/Evol of Marine Organisms 4
MAR 106/106L - Introduction to Cell/Molec of Marine Organisms 4
MAR 250/250L - Marine Biology 4
MAR 270/270L - Oceanography 4
MAR 366 - Advanced Oceanography I: Biological & Geological Oceanography 3
MAR 368 - Advanced Oceanography II: Physical & Chemical Oceanography 3
MAR 325 - Marine Science Speaker Series 1
MAR 400 - Level Course 3
MAT 150 - Statistics for Life Sciences 3
MAT 190 - Calculus I 4
MAT 195 - Calculus II 4
MAT 225 - Computer Programming with MAT LAB 3
PHY 110 - General Physics I w/Lab 4
PHY 111 - General Physics II w/Lab 4
Program Required Cognate Courses 39–40
Program Track Subtotal 65–66
Open Electives (as needed to reach 120 credits) Variable
Total Minimum Required Credits 120

Area Courses

Organismal Biology Area Courses Credits
BIO 234/234L - Environmental Microbiology 4
MAR 320/320L - Invertebrate Zoology 4
BIO 330/330L - Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy 4
MAR 331/331L - Biology of Fishes 4
MAR 355/355L - Biology of Marine Mammals 4
MAR 375/375L - Biology of Sharks, Skates, and Rays 4
MAR 376 - Biology of Sharks, Skates and Rays 3
MAR 452/452L - Natural History and Evolution of Galapagos Fauna 4
BIO 422/422L - Marine Biology Topics: Coral Reefs 4
MAR 312/312L - Plankton 4
BIO 222/222L - Techniques in Finfish and Shellfish Culture 4
BIO 223/223L - Health, Nutrition, and Feeding of Cultured Organism 4
Process Area Courses Credits
MAR 335/335L - Animal/Behavioral Ecology 4
MAR 350/350L - Marine Ecology 4
MAR 432/432L - Fisheries Biology 4
MAR 428 - Marine Conservation 3
Physiology Area Courses Credits
BIO 322 - Comparative Animal Physiology 3
BIO/MAR 421/421L - Physiological Ecology of Fishes 4
MAR 380 - Experimental Animal Physiology 4
Cell and Molecular Area Courses Credits
BIO 205/205L - Fish Genetics 4
MAR 220/220L - Cellular and Molecular Approaches in Marine Science 4

Electives

Marine Elective Options Credits
Any MAR course (200 level or above) 3–4
Any MAF course 3
Any Chemistry course (200 level or above) 3–5
Any AQS course 3–4
Any GIS course 3–4
BIO 205/205L - Fish Genetics 4
BIO 422/422L - Marine Biology Topics: Coral Reefs 4
Total Minimum Required Credits 8

Students wishing to pursue teacher certification in Life Science can complete a double major with Marine Science and Secondary Education or a major in Secondary Education and a concentration in Marine Science. For more information, see the Secondary Education catalog page.

Students in this major can participate in the pre-health graduate school preparation tracks.

To learn more about the program visit the Academic Catalog.

Honors Program

We offer qualified students the option of graduating with Honors. This includes significant research, scholarship or creative activity under the direction of a faculty member. Interested students should consult with their major advisor.

Double Major in Marine Sciences and Applied Mathematics

The Marine Sciences and Applied Mathematics (MARMAT) double major program gives you the opportunity to earn two undergraduate degrees in four years: a B.S. in Marine Sciences and a B.S. in Applied Mathematics. The field emphasizes computer-based mathematical modeling and statistical analysis to address such problems as managing fish populations and ensuring a sustainable future for these species.

In this unique double major program, you'll spend the first two years completing fundamental mathematics and marine science coursework, leading to a culminating applied student research project in your senior year. UNE offers a large university marine science program at a student-centered university right on the coast. You'll also benefit from the Department of Mathematical Sciences’ integrated curricular approach that combines the latest technology with theoretical and applied mathematics to teach you the real-world applications of mathematics.

Career Paths

The double major will position you for a variety of careers in which mathematics is used in marine research or industry to address ocean challenges. You'll be especially qualified for careers in fields like marine resource evaluation and sustainability, species population dynamics, and data systems management.

Seine Netting Research in Maine

Join Marine Science major Andrew Davidsohn for river research on the coast of Maine.

Careers

With the knowledge you gain from your coursework, the critical thinking skills you develop through research, and the life skills you acquire from internships and close working relationships with faculty and peers, you will be well on your way to an exciting career in the marine sciences.

Our graduates have pursued many fascinating careers, including:

  • Laboratory Technician
  • Water Quality Monitor
  • Fisheries Observer
  • Marine Biology or Oceanography Researcher
  • Animal Caretaker at Zoos and Aquariums
  • Environmental Educator
  • Animal Trainer
  • Conservation Advocate
  • Natural Resource Manager
  • Veterinarian
  • Commercial Diver
  • Scientific Instrument Technician

Career Advising

Whether you have a specific career goal in mind or a vague idea of the field that interests you, Career Advising is here to help you plan your next step.

Global Education

In addition to opportunities to spend a semester abroad in Tangier, Morocco or Seville, Spain for the same cost as studying at UNE's Maine campuses, you may choose to enroll in one of our marine sciences-related travel courses. To enroll in these courses and learn more, visit the Global Education Program website.

Interested in studying abroad? Make a plan with your advisor.

Belize

BIO 421: Marine Topics: Coral Reef Studies

This course presents an in-depth study of the biology and taxonomy of corals while examining the ecology of the coral reef system and the future of reefs. 

BELIZE COURSE

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Galápagos

MAR 451: Natural History and Evolution of the Galapagos Fauna

This course is designed to familiarize you with the biota of the Galapagos Islands, island history, ecology, and the behavior and evolution of the islands' animals. 

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS COURSE

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Iceland

Semester-Long Study Abroad Program

Spend a semester abroad in Akureyri on the northeast coast of Iceland. You'll be studying in Iceland's second-largest urban area surrounded by mountains and fjords.

ICELAND PROGRAM

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 Faculty and students hike Sólheimajökull glacier

Panama

BIO 421: Conservation and Ecology of a Caribbean Island

This course covers topics in the history and geology of the Caribbean, including terrestrial, island, and marine biodiversity, plus the ecology and evolution of populations.

PANAMA COURSE

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UNE North

The Institute for North Atlantic Studies of the University of New England is an education and research leader for Maine connected to the North Atlantic/Arctic region grounded in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and built to support local to global collaborative approaches to shared challenges and opportunities.

UNE NORTH

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Experiential Learning

Marine Sciences offers constant hands-on interaction in a variety of environments from the watershed to the river, from the estuary to the ocean. Through internships, field research, and experiential learning, you don’t just learn marine science — you do marine science.

Internships

A wide array of enriching internship opportunities exist at institutions including:

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Gulf of Maine Research Institute
  • New England Aquarium
  • Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
  • Various Aquaculture Farms and Fisheries
  • Wells National Estuarine Reserve

For more information, contact the College of Arts and Sciences Internship Office Marine Sciences contact Cynthia Simon at (207) 602-2540 or csimon@une.edu.

Research Opportunities

Undergraduate research is an essential part of our programs, no matter which major you choose. All students conduct research in the field through their regular coursework beginning in their freshman year, with additional opportunities to gain experience through faculty labs and multi-institutional initiatives.

Research Fellowships

In addition to lab classes and faculty lab positions, UNE provides pathways for students to obtain research experience through fellowships from partners and programs including Pratt & Whitney, Bristol Seafood, SEANET, and the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience.

Research Areas

The field of Marine Science is as broad and diverse as the vast oceans that cover most of our planet. At UNE we touch upon all facets of marine science with special focuses in the following areas of research.

Applied Marine Technology

Applied marine technology is a crucial Marine Programs research area that cuts across all others. Robotics, research vessels, remote and autonomous underwater vehicles, environmental monitoring, and modeling are all vital tools that enable modern marine research to occur. Researchers in this area are interested in innovations in and novel applications for marine technology.

Aquatic Animal Life Support Systems Operation

Part of our dedication to experiential learning includes providing opportunities to garner real-world skills that make you sought after in the job market and graduate education institutions. A shining example of this is our association with Aquatic Animal Life Support Operators (AALSO). AALSO is a 501 c6 nonprofit organization that focuses on the education and training of aquatic life support operators around the world. AALSO members are those behind the scenes at research institutions and large public aquariums around the world who design, construct, and maintain large aquatic husbandry systems. AALSO provides professional credentialing and proficiency certifications that carry real weight in the industry. UNE is one of only two academic institutions who have been approved by AALSO to administer these tests to our students. Meaning you can walk out the door with a degree in hand, and a professional industry certification in your back pocket.

Researchers:

Boating and Marine Science Seamanship

Boats, for obvious reasons, are important to marine research. At UNE we are fortunate enough to have a fleet of research and education vessels [ATS1] from 18’ to 35’ that are utilized in our programs. Add to this our faculty and professional staff with professional vessel operation credentials and experience operating and conducting science aboard ships and research vessels all over the world — and UNE Marine programs are well suited to help you gain the important technical knowledge needed to be proficient and safe both operating and conducting research at sea.

Researchers: Tim Arienti

Modeling

The oceans cover more than 70% of the planet. The interconnectivity of life and ecosystems in the sea are incredibly complex, and distinctly linked to both the land and our atmosphere. Such complexity is nearly impossible to understand without the powerful predictive capacities of computer models. These models, based on data collected in the field, from satellites, the geological record, and elsewhere, are used to forecast (and hind-cast) everything from fish populations and food webs to ocean circulation, hurricanes, and climate change.

Researchers:

Robotics and Smart Technology

Ocean robotics and smart technology — in the form of underwater drones, manned submersibles, water quality sensors, oceanographic buoys, and camera systems — is a rapidly growing, and increasingly important marine field. In the age of technology, these tools are becoming vital components in enabling cutting-edge marine research across the board. 

Researchers:

Biology of Marine Organisms

Our Marine Programs faculty and professional staff conduct a wide range of research in the areas of biology and ecology of marine organisms. This research area is very broad and ranges from marine genetics to the migration patterns of large animals like sharks, seals, and whales. From seaweed to sharks — plankton to pinnipeds (seals!) our team covers it all.

Food Web Dynamics

Food web dynamics focuses on how energy moves through organisms in an ecosystem through primary productivity (photosynthesis) and consumers. Researchers in our Marine programs study these interactions to create a “who’s eating who” web of connections between organisms in an ecosystem.

Researchers: Carrie Byron, Ph.D.

Invasive Species

Invasive species are any species introduced to an ecosystem in which they are not native that then go on to cause disruption or harm to the functioning of that ecosystem. Marine organisms are adept at hitching rides in ballast water of ships, through hitchhiking on marine debris, or even through deliberate introduction. Researchers at UNE study these organisms and their ecological interactions and impacts in the Gulf of Maine and beyond.

Researchers: Markus Frederich, Ph.D.

Marine Invertebrates

There are more than 20,000 species of marine and fresh water bony fish on the planet, while mollusks alone (snails, bivalves, etc.) comprise more than 85,000 known species. Of all the expansive biodiversity contained within our oceans, the vast majority is contained within the marine invertebrates. With so much diversity, the opportunities for research in marine invertebrates are almost inexhaustible.

Researchers:

Oceanography

Life in the sea poses challenges unique to oceanic organisms, especially the smallest of those (microorganisms). By virtue of being immersed in water, they are at the mercy of the tides, currents, chemistry, and geology of the sea. Oceanography is the study of these physical properties and processes in the ocean — physical, chemical, and geological. Oceanography researchers at UNE study how these oceanographic components interact with each other and affect life in the sea.

Researchers:

Plankton and Microbes

With few exceptions, marine microbes and plankton form the base of the marine food web. Small but mighty, the plankton are the fuel for life in the sea. Researchers within our Marine programs study many facets of the biology, ecology, and even chemistry of this important and diverse group of organisms.

Researchers:

Sharks and Marine Mammals

The largest organisms in an ecosystem are often sentinels of ecosystem health and serve key roles in the health and balance of our oceans. UNE researchers study the biology and ecology of sharks and marine mammals in the Gulf of Maine and across the globe.

Researchers:

Food from the Ocean

With a global human population headed towards 10 billion by 2050, understanding the interactions between the ocean and what we eat is more important than ever. Our location on the coast of Maine has a deep heritage and connections to the people and communities who have harvested food from the sea, and the ecosystems that provide it. We have robust research and education programs in this focus area including fisheries science and management, ecological aquaculture, marine entrepreneurship, migration of highly migratory species, and food web ecology.

Fisheries Management and Science

Fisheries science and management are both distinct disciplines that are highly interwoven. Fisheries science creates the knowledge and data used in order for fisheries management to make the best possible policies to manage a fishery. The policies and the priorities set forth by management then in turn creates the framework for fisheries science to design and conduct research. At UNE, we have researchers with expertise on both sides of this important coin.

Researchers: Susan Farady

Ornamental Aquaculture

Globally, the saltwater ornamental fish and aquarium industry is valued at $15 billion, resulting in the importation of more than 400 fish species. And yet, only 10% of these fish are cultured. Ornamental aquaculture is the application of aquaculture techniques and protocols to produce fish and other organisms used for decorative purposes. This practice can help greatly reduce pressure on wild fish populations and increase the sustainability of a hobby growing rapidly on a global scale.

Researchers:

Sustainable Seafood and Aquaculture

The global human population is projected to be more than 10 billion people by 2050. That is a lot of mouths to feed. And yet, while the oceans cover more than 70% of our planet, only 2% of food production (including all fisheries and ocean farms) comes from the sea. In the future there will be by necessity, increased pressure on global oceans to produce food. Much of this will come from ocean-farms producing not only fish, but shellfish, seaweeds, and other marine foods. Researchers in our Marine programs study the entire suite of issues pertaining to seafood and aquaculture.

Researchers:

Human Impacts on the Ocean

Evidence of human impact on the ocean is everywhere, not just limited to our coastal oceans. Plastics and chemicals have been documented from the deepest depths of the global seas, while climate change affects all aspects of the ocean. More and more, we cannot separate studying the natural ocean environment apart from human influence. Fisheries, microplastics, policy, pollution, conservation, and restoration all fall into this category. UNE Marine Programs faculty, professional staff, and students are focused on research and solutions across the spectrum of human influence on our seas.

Climate Change

Our climate is changing — rapidly. Its impacts are felt broadly across our planet, especially our oceans, which play crucial roles in mediating, moderating, and shaping the global impacts of accelerating planetary change. This is exemplified in our own backyard, where the Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 90% of all other ocean waters. Rather than a discrete area of study, climate change research at UNE Marine Programs is more of an umbrella. One of the most important planetary challenges of our time, climate change research is integrated by necessity into almost all of our Marine Programs research and scholarship areas of focus.

Researchers:

Conservation and Restoration

Not all human impacts on the sea are negative. Human interventions in the forms of conservation and restoration science and policies can produce real and impactful improvement in the marine environment. Ecosystem and habitat restoration, invasive species mitigation and management and ocean advocacy are all part of UNE Marine Programs.

Researchers:

Marine Business and Entrepreneurship

In many ways, the ocean represents a vast resource with the potential for creating economic growth in a sustainable or even restorative fashion. Opportunities here include sustainable fisheries and aquaculture ventures, ocean robotics, sensors and remote sensing, shipping, value-added marine-derived products such as cosmetics and nutraceuticals, even textiles and fashion.

Researchers: Jeri Fox

Marine Pollution

The ocean is downstream of everything and given a long enough period of time, everything ends up in the ocean. Marine pollution impacts our oceans through many pathways and in many forms: excess nutrients and runoff from urban and agricultural lands, bacteria from our wastewater, chemicals from our industries, and plastics from, well, everywhere…are just a few examples. Researchers in our Marine programs look into how the pollutants impact marine organisms and ecosystems, as well as techniques to mitigate and policies to prevent pollution from entering the ocean.

Researchers:

UNE Marine Science by the Numbers

Top 10

Best Colleges for Marine Biology 

(College Magazine, 2018; Biology Explorer, 2019)

Top 15

Best Marine Biology Degrees

(College Choice, 2019)

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