As the name suggests, marine biology is the study of marine organisms and their environment. They specialize in oceanography, including its chemical, physical, and geological aspects.

Obtaining this degree will open your horizons to several careers, including that of a full-fledged marine biologist, researcher, or environmental consultant. Here, we will be looking at the best countries to study marine biology.

If you deem marine biology to be your calling, then it’s best if you study in any of these countries:

Which Is the Best Country to Study Marine Biology?

The best country to study marine biology would be Australia if you take into account the quality of education, amount of exposure to wildlife, and the marine environment. Australia is home to many top-ranking institutions for marine biology, and since Australia is an island country, you would be surrounded by the Great Barrier Reef and the Pacific Ocean.

Which Is the Best Institution to Study Marine Biology?

The answer would depend on your area of specialization since there are many subfields in marine biology. After selecting the country that you would like to study in, try to pick a general area within marine biology that you would like to study. After making those two choices, your final step is to research universities that offer courses in your related field.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Best Countries to Study Marine Biology

1. Australia

Australia, surrounded by diverse waters and the Great Barrier Reef, is undoubtedly one of the best countries to study marine biology/science. For one, it has many institutions that offer the said course, including Macquarie University, Griffith University, and the University of Melbourne (UniMelb), to name a few.

At UniMelb, you get to study in the best school in Australia for marine studies. As a Marine Biology major, you have the opportunity to dabble in the basics of marine botany, ecosystems, and experimental marine biology.

Likewise, you get to specialize by taking electives in applied ecology, geomorphology, or environmental imaging, to name a few.

Scholarships at the University of Queensland and University of Adelaide, among others, are widely available as well. Please remember that the section for universities that offer scholarships is not limited to the three candidates that we have selected. There is a host of universities around the world that offer scholarships to students who are undertaking courses in marine biology.

Check out: How to Study in Australia for Free

2. United Kingdom

  • Reasons: Established Universities, Expert Faculty, Access to Biodiverse Marine Areas, State-of-the-Art Research Vessels, Accessibility to Europe’s Best Aquatic Facilities, Scientific Diving Courses
  • Top Programs in Marine Biology: University of Plymouth, Bangor University

With more than 7,700 miles of coastline, the UK is another country that offers immediate access to marine wildlife. Because of this reason, many UK institutions provide such a program.

One example is the University of Plymouth, which offers an honors course in marine biology. Here, students can study the diverse marine life – from the shallowest of waters to the deepest of trenches. For one, the nearby South Devon coast is one of the most biodiverse areas in the UK.

Students will also enjoy optional modules, including Scientific Diving. Those interested in research may take part in research vessels along various conservation waters.

Scholarships are also widely available in the university mentioned above, as well as Bangor University. Interested in studying marine biology in the UK? Apply for a UK student visa so that you can study as an international student.

3. United States of America

When it comes to studying marine biology, the US is undeniably one of the best countries for studying marine biology. For one, it’s home to some of the best marine biology schools in the world.

More than having comprehensive curriculums and respected faculty, the US provides ready access to diverse marine wildlife.

You have immediate access to the Pacific Ocean by enrolling in west coast universities (California State University/CSU, University of Washington), even those in the Pacific (University of Hawaii).

Meanwhile, the Atlantic ocean is a stone’s throw away from east-coast schools (University of Miami, Duke University). No matter where you study in the US, you’re sure to get your hands on the organisms and niches you need to master.

American universities also offer an array of scholarships, such as those from the University of Washington or University of Miami.

Check out: How to Study in United States for Free

4. Portugal

  • Reasons: Exceptional Schools, Close Proximity to Atlantic Ocean, English Programs, Top Marine Facilities, International Exchanges, Marine Research Centers
  • Top Programs in Marine Biology: University of Algarve

Located west of the European mainland is Portugal, a country famous for its historic beauty. It’s also next to the Atlantic ocean, thus making it a desirable destination for Marine Biology studies.

In Portuguese institutions such as the University of Algarve, students don’t have to worry about the language barrier since courses are taught in English.

Apart from offering immersive courses, the university also provides access to exceptional facilities, including a scientific diving center, a marine organism lab, and a field station, to name a few.

To further diversify their marine knowledge, students may also participate in international exchanges.

Those who wish to perform research may easily do so at the Center for Marine Science or the Center for Marine & Environmental Research. If you are actively looking for ways to cut down on your costs while studying in Portugal, check out these tips to study in Portugal for free.

5. Iceland

  • Reasons: Reputable Universities, Rich Marine Life, Various Educational Methods
  • Top Programs in Marine Biology: University of Iceland

The beautiful country of Iceland is home to bountiful marine life. From whales to seals and dolphins, there’s so much to see in the country. This is just one of the many reasons why you should study Marine Biology in Iceland.

Such a program is offered by select universities, including the University of Iceland. Alongside the Marine & Freshwater Research Institute, it provides a specialized program in Aquatic Biology and Fisheries. The focus, of course, is on freshwater & marine ecology/fisheries in sub-arctic waters.

With this joint program, international students enjoy various study methods. The usual classroom instruction is coupled with hands-on data analysis, field studies, and research. If you truly want to study abroad in Iceland, check out the steps required to earn the Iceland student visa.

6. South Africa

  • Reasons: Prominent Universities, Diverse Marine Life, Double Majors
  • Top Programs in Marine Biology: University of Cape Town

Being located at the southernmost tip of the continent, South Africa is a good country to study marine biology due to its access to a diverse ocean. Take the case of the West Coast, which is home to the African penguin and the Cape fur seal.

This nearness to diverse marine life makes South Africa one of the best destinations for budding marine biologists. Add to that, the country plays host to some of the best universities in the world.

One good example is the University of Cape Town (UCT). Here, you can enroll in a Marine Biology course and learn more about marine life, ecosystems, and resource conservation, to name a few.

Add to that, UCT Marine Bio students may major in other related disciplines, including Ecology & Evolution, Ocean & Atmosphere Science, etc. If you really want to study marine biology in South Africa, please remember to apply for a student visa in South Africa.

7. Japan

Although most Japanese universities in Nihongo, marine biology courses are included in the few exceptions. Coupled with the diverse marine life seen in the Sea of Japan, the country proves to be an excellent option for those who wish to specialize in marine science.

One good example is Tohoku University, which offers an English-taught Applied Marine Biology course. Compared to traditional programs, it has a deeper focus on practical research. It also covers today’s pressing issues, such as bi0pharmaceuticals, seafood management & sustainability, and climate & environmental issues.

Guided by expert faculty, students in Japanese universities may choose to specialize in research concerning aquacultural biology, fisheries biology & ecology, and marine plant ecology, among many others. If you need help with applying to universities in Japan, check out these application tips for international students.


I hope this article on the best countries to study marine biology was informative and insightful. To know more information on studying abroad, check out the Available Programs for International Students.

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