Launch Your Career in Ocean Conservation and Marine Policy With a Marine Affairs Degree

Do you have a desire to help preserve our precious ocean resources? As human activities continue to alter our coastal systems, the need is growing for experts in ocean conservation, management, regulation, and governance. Our Bachelor of Arts degree in Marine Affairs is one of only four undergraduate Marine Affairs programs in the U.S., and our shoreline campus is the perfect place to learn best practices in marine policy, ecology, ocean conservation, and sustainable development. Ride the wave into the “Ocean Century” with Marine Affairs at UNE.

A student describes their research poster to an audience member at an Undergraduate Research Symposium

Why UNE for Marine Affairs

There is no better place than our scenic coastal campus to acquire an education in marine affairs. Love where you live, and study what you love.

Headshot of U N E student Will Szumita

I think that’s the best part about UNE’s marine science program — you get so much out of your education, and a lot of it is far beyond just reading from a textbook.

Animal Behavior, Marine Sciences (Marine Biology Track)

What will you study? Bachelor of Arts Degree in Marine Affairs Curriculum Overview

B.A. in Marine Affairs Courses

There are many ways you can navigate the Marine Affairs program. The following are examples of the exciting courses you can take:

  • Marine Pollution
  • Ocean and Coastal Law
  • Environmental Communication
  • Marine Biology
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Management of Non-Profit Organizations
  • Environmental Economics

Our 3+3 Pathways Program enables you to complete your B.A. in Marine Affairs at UNE and a law degree (J.D.) from the University of Maine in six years.


CAS Core Requirements* Credits
Total 42–46
Program Requirements Credits
MAR 105/105L – Introduction to Ecology/Evolution of Marine Organisms with Lab Credits Included in Core Requirements
MAR 106/106L – Introduction to Cellular/Molecular of Marine Organisms with Lab 4
MAR 150/150L – Discovering the Ocean Environment with Lab or MAR 270/270L – Oceanography with Lab 4
MAR 250/250L – Marine Biology with Lab or MAR 350/350L – Marine Ecology with Lab 4
MAR 316 – Science in Society 3
MAF 200 – Introduction to Marine Pollution 3
MAF 210 – Introduction to U.S. Ocean Governance 3
MAF 310 – Ocean and Coastal Law 3
MAF 320 – Internship 3–12
MAF 400 – Marine Affairs Capstone 3
Total Program Required Credits 30–139
Program Required Cognate Courses Credits
CHE 110/110L – General Chemistry I with Lab or CHE 130/130L – Principles of Chemistry with Lab 4
PSC 125 – Understanding Law or PSC 210 – Constitutional Law 3
MAT 150 – Statistics for Life Sciences or MAT 170 – Applications of Functions Credits Included in Core Requirements
GIS 161 – Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems 3
BUEC 390 – Environmental Economics or BUEC 395 – Ecological Economics 3
Total Program Required Cognate Credits 13
Choose One (1) Communication and Outreach Courses Credits
SPC 100 – Effective Public Speaking 3
CMM 210 – Understanding Media 3
CMM 240 – Social Media: Theory and Practice 3
CMM 305 – Public Relations in the Digital Age 3
ENV 321 – Environmental Communications 3
EDU 202 – Curriculum Theory and Design 3
WRT 233 – Professional and Technical Writing 3
WRT 317 – Proposal and Grant Writing 3
Total Communication and Outreach Credits 3
Choose One (1) Organization Management Courses Credits
BUMG 301 – Organizational Behavior 3
BUMG 303 – Management of Non-profit Organizations 3
BUMG 311 – Business and Society Relations 3
BUMK 200 – Marketing 3
BUMK 310 – Advertising 3
ORM 335 – Outdoor Recreation Planning and Policy 3
SOC 226 – Environmental Sociology 3
Total Organization Management Credits 3
Open Electives as Needed to Reach 120 Credits Variable
Minimum Required Total Credits 120

*Must take MAR 105/105L as Lab Science Course and MAT 150 or MAT 170 as Math Course

Graduation Requirements

A 2.00 cumulative average in sciences is a requirement for graduation in any of the programs in the School of Marine and Environmental Programs.

Program Completion Timeline

Students have a maximum of seven (7) years to complete the graduation requirements

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

To learn more about the program view 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.

Meet Hannah, a Marine Affairs major

Career Paths for Marine Affairs Program Grads

As a Marine Affairs major at UNE, you will combine the discipline of marine biology with the critical study of marine policy issues that affect everything from maritime trade to ocean conservation and sustainability practices. With undergraduate research experiences and internships with local employers, you’ll soon be charting your course to a rewarding career in marine affairs.

With a degree in Marine Affairs, you may pursue many fascinating professions in ocean conservation and marine policy, including:

  • Marine Law Attorney
  • Environmental Educator
  • Conservation Advocate
  • Government Agency Researcher/Analyst
  • Outreach and Communications Specialist
  • Natural Resource Management and Policy Developer

Career Advising for Marine Affairs Majors

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.

Marine Affairs Program Facilities

UNE offers some of the best research, lab, and classroom facilities in the nation for the study of marine science — and you can access all of them right from our main campus in Biddeford, Maine.

Take a Virtual Tour of the Marine Science Center

Launch Girard Marine Science Center

Explore All School of Marine and Environmental Programs Facilities

Experiential Learning in Marine Affairs

Whether it’s interning on a whale watch boat, analyzing ocean conservation strategies, or designing environmental education plans, Marine Affairs at UNE gives you real-world, hands-on experiences.

Marine Affairs Internships

As a student in our Marine Affairs program, you’ll have access to exciting internship opportunities at sites such as:

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve
  • New England Aquarium
  • Friends of Casco Bay
  • Atlantic Salmon Federation
  • Cape Ann Whale Watch
  • Maine Lobsterman’s Association
  • Seacoast Science Center
  • Gulf of Maine Research Institute

For more information contact Donna Gaspar Jarvis in the Academic and Career Advising Center.

A student takes notes on pieces of sea kelp in the marine science lab

Marine Affairs Research Opportunities

Undergraduate research is an essential part of our bachelor of arts degree programs, no matter which major you choose. You will conduct field research through your regular coursework beginning your first year, with additional opportunities to gain experience through faculty labs and multi-institutional initiatives.

Marine Affairs Research Fellowships

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

Research Areas for Marine Affairs Majors

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 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.


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


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.


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. 


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Global Education in Marine Affairs

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.


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. 



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. 



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.


 Faculty and students hike Sólheimajökull glacier


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.


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.


Apply Today

Ready to begin your future in UNE’s Marine Affairs program?

Bachelor of Arts in Marine Affairs FAQ

What is marine affairs?

Marine affairs is a fascinating and interdisciplinary field that focuses on ocean management, ocean policy, and governance of human activities within the ocean and coastal environments. It delves into the complex interrelationships between the physical, biological, and social aspects of these diverse marine ecosystems.

The UNE B.A. in Marine Affairs is one of only four undergraduate marine policy degrees available in the U.S. Here, you can launch a rewarding career in ocean conservation, marine management, marine regulation, and ocean governance.

Learn more about UNE’s B.A. in Marine Affairs

What can you do with a marine affairs degree?

Marine affairs is a dynamic and growing field that offers exciting opportunities for those who are passionate about the ocean and its future. The UNE marine policy curriculum positions you for a variety of careers:

  • Government agencies and NGOs – Work on marine policy, regulation, ocean conservation initiatives, and ocean governance.
  • Research and academia – Conduct research, teach, and contribute to scientific knowledge on marine issues.
  • Private sector – Work in sustainable marine industries, ocean technology companies, or consulting firms.
  • Law and advocacy – Work on environmental law, maritime law, and advocate for marine conservation and sustainable use.
  • Education and outreach – Educate the public about marine issues and promote sustainable practices.

What skills will you gain with a marine affairs degree?

In UNE’s Marine Affairs degree program in Maine, you will gain skills in critical thinking and problem-solving for ocean management challenges, marine policy analysis and development, communication and collaboration, and project management and implementation. In addition, you’ll learn foundational principles of marine biology, marine law, and environmental economics. Our goal is to empower you with knowledge that grounds your marine policy work in sound science, legal precedent, and economic theory.

Explore UNE’s B.A. in Marine Affairs curriculum

Why is ocean conservation important?

The oceans are critical for climate regulation, biodiversity, and the natural water cycle, as well as for food security, recreation, the beauty and health of our planet, and so much more. Ocean conservation is not an option; it's a necessity.

The UNE Marine Affairs curriculum holds marine conservation and human wellbeing as aligned ideas. Here, you’ll learn to foster approaches to ocean management that allow people and the ocean to thrive together. By supporting sustainable practices, advocating for responsible policies, and making conscious choices, we can protect this vital resource for ourselves and future generations.

What is the best marine affairs degree program for me?

To evaluate whether a Marine Affairs degree program fits your needs, start by looking at these important criteria.


The ocean seems limitless, but marine policy is often local and regional. Seek a marine policy degree within a geographic area that connects to the ocean, a place where subject matter you study is nearby. This will make your learning experience more immersive, and will build your relationship network in a place that’s relevant to your marine conservation career.

The University of New England Marine Affairs degree program happens right on the coast of Maine. You’ll develop personal experiences out on the Gulf of Maine — a storied ocean resource that is a living lab for sustainable ocean use policy. You’ll also gain global perspectives on marine conservation and ocean policy, through an expansive curriculum as well as through global learning opportunities in Iceland, Morocco, Belize, Ecuador, and beyond.


Look for a marine affairs curriculum that encompasses the breadth of concepts and issues at play within marine policy and conservation. The ocean is vast in terms of size and complexity, and your marine affairs degree must orient you in marine science while addressing the many ways humans use and impact the sea around the world.

The UNE Marine Affairs degree includes engaging courses in marine science, marine law, environmental economics, communications and marketing, business, organizational management, and more. Our students graduate prepared to collaborate with diverse groups and people to advance sustainable ocean policy solutions.

Learn more about UNE’s B.A. in Marine Affairs curriculum

Career Goals

With a degree in Marine Affairs, you may pursue many fascinating professions, including:

  • Marine Law Attorney
  • Environmental Educator
  • Conservation Advocate
  • Government Agency Researcher/Analyst
  • Outreach and Communications Specialist
  • Natural Resource Management and Policy Developer

As a Marine Affairs major at UNE, you will combine the discipline of marine biology with the critical study of marine policy issues that affect everything from maritime trade to sustainability practices. With undergraduate research experiences and internships with local employers, you’ll soon be charting your course to a rewarding career in marine affairs.

UNE students can work with our Academic and Career Advising Center to find a path that matches their passions. It doesn’t matter if you have a clear career goal or just a general interest in a field.

Learn more about Career Advising at UNE

Financial Aid

Consider whether the school you're interested in provides financial aid or scholarships to support your education.

A UNE undergraduate education is affordable. Our tuition is 16% below the average tuition for private universities in New England. Plus, all incoming full-time undergraduate students at UNE will receive Merit Scholarships in amounts from $5,000 to $22,000 per year.

Learn more about grants and scholarships available to students at UNE