Marine Biology is the study of marine organisms and creatures depending on bodies of water, including their behaviors and interactions with the environment. Marine biology science is a vast discipline with various specializations; hence, university researchers focus on a particular aspect of the study. The reliance and adherence of world societies to our world’s oceans emphasize the importance of marine biology study.

Many universities worldwide have focused on the science of marine biology throughout the years. Some have developed the discipline in their institutions above other schools, seen from their impact on the global marine biology community and received recognitions. Here are some of the best marine biology schools in the world.

Top Marine Biology Schools in the World

1. James Cook University

The University College of Townsville, the former name for James Cook University, was proposed in 1957 and officially opened in 1961. The university got its new name through a Queensland Parliament bill in 1969. Since its conception in the 1950s, JCU has continued the pursuit of scientific excellence, particularly in marine biology.

James Cook University’s College of Science and Engineering houses the marine biology program for undergraduate and graduate tracks. CSE focuses on the education and application of areas, including marine biology, as part of the Division for Tropical Environments and Societies. The college utilizes a hands-on learning and research approach to ensure quality outputs.

Since the CSE and JCU focused on advancing the disciplines within and around marine biology, it is no surprise that its prestige went above par. It has received multiple awards and honors for the excellence of its research and graduates. It’s no surprise that JCU is among the best marine biology schools and is currently at the top spot among international institutions offering marine biology.

2. Ocean University of China

The Ocean University of China established itself as the Private Qingdao University in 1924. Qingdao was later nationalized in 1930 and renamed the National Shandong University. A merger and several names change later, the Ministry of Education changed its name to the Ocean University of China in 2002. The institution prides itself in attaining excellence in the fisheries and marine sciences field.

The Ocean University of China’s College of Marine Sciences started with the foundation of the OUC itself. The CMS embodies the OUC’s focus on studying and researching the ocean sciences. The Ocean University of China is one of the top institutes for marine biology, with full support from the Chinese government.

3. University of Queensland

A 1909 State Parliament Act established the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. The university was founded officially in 1910, and teaching started the following year. UQ rapidly expanded after World War I, developing its fields and disciplines decades forward.

The University of Queensland’s Centre for Marine Science is the leading research and training institution for the marine science discipline. The center is one of the largest and most diverse collaborations of marine experts in Australia.

Through the efforts of its faculty, researchers, and students, the Centre for Marine Science’s record in developing and promoting knowledge, approaches, and technologies is unparalleled. The University of Queensland consistently ranks as one of the best among marine science universities worldwide.

4. University of Tasmania

The University of Tasmania started in 1890 and is Australia’s fourth oldest university. The university promotes a philosophy of symbiosis between the environment and the academic and research community. The relationship revolves around environmental study and preservation for the benefit of both sides.

The Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies is the University of Tasmania’s premier institution for promoting the discipline. The institute prides itself as a world-class center of excellence for research and education. Various global ranking organizations have already cited the University of Tasmania for its high quality of trained scientists and researchers, placing it in the upper bracket of marine science universities globally.

5. Aarhus University

Aarhus University in Denmark started in 1928 upon the inauguration of the University Studies in Jutland. The university eventually gained recognition as Aarhus University in 1933 through the help and support of the government and the Aarhus community.

Aarhus University’s Department of Ecoscience started in 1989 as the National Environmental Research Institute. NERI became part of Aarhus University then became the Department of Ecoscience. The series of name changes characterize the ever-changing strategies of the department to adapt to the challenges and demands of marine science.

The Department of Ecoscience in this esteemed marine biology institution is recognized in Denmark and around the world as today’s leading institution for the study and research of marine science. Its produced experts and researchers are well-recognized in the field. Aarhus University occupies the top ranks of international marine science institutions worldwide.

6. Sorbonne University

Sorbonne University is yet another one of the best marine biology schools in the world. It started in 2018 as a public university created by the merger of Paris-Sorbonne University and Pierre and Marie Curie University. The Sorbonne University’s structure focuses on the three faculties of arts and humanities, science and engineering, and medicine.

The Sorbonne University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering houses the institution’s marine science program. On its own, Pierre and Marie Curie University already rank among the best marine science universities in the world. The merger made significant leaps forward in marine science for the resulting institution.

The Faculty of Science and Engineering relies on its research teams and experts to formulate its policies. This approach ensures consistent innovation and relevant excellence within the community. The faculty’s success is visible through the number of well-trained marine scientists from Sorbonne University, excelling in the discipline internationally.

7. University of Porto

The newly implanted Portuguese republican system created the University of Porto in 1911. Despite the challenge brought about by political unrest in Portugal, the university continues to thrive up to this day. Various disciplines gained ground and developed their research and teaching techniques in their respective departments.

The Faculty of Sciences or the Faculdade de Ciencias Universidade do Porto, traces its history to 1762 when the Nautical Class began. The university’s administration introduced developments and changes to the faculty. The improvements molded the Faculty of Sciences into the world-class department it is today.

The Faculty of Sciences provides various research and training facilities to improve the study of marine sciences. The quality of research and experts produced by the FCUP is comparable to larger schools worldwide. The University of Porto is among the upper brackets of international marine science universities.

8. Newcastle University

Already reputed as one of the best marine biology universities in the world, Newcastle University also prides itself on being the 1st in the United Kingdom for sustainable development in the Times Higher Education 2022.

Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology is recognized by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST) due to its comprehensive curriculum for marine scientists. Situated along the coastline and the North Sea, Marine Biology students are guaranteed an immersive research study. Furthermore, educational field tours at the Isle of Cumbrae and selected spots in Portugal, Mexico, or Bermuda can be experienced by students.

9. University of Maine

The School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine prides itself on being one of the university’s centers of excellence. Aside from that, there are also other 15 departments that are dubbed “Signature and Emerging Areas of Excellence”.

Undergraduate students specializing in Marine Biology must take 15 credits from the electives of the School of Marine Sciences. This should include courses on primary producers, vertebrate and invertebrate organisms. Graduate students will take on a range of related disciplines from comparative morphology, genetics, and physiology to cellular and molecular biology. All students of Marine Biology will benefit from renowned and experienced faculty members.

10. University of Miami

The University of Miami embraces all kinds of students and teaching staff, making up a diverse student body and valuable teaching personnel. This ideal is supported by the university’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the Multicultural Student Affairs.

Marine Biology & Ecology bachelor’s degree is intended for students who are aiming for a holistic research experience in the areas of genomics, immunology, evolution, and the like. Those who will complete the undergraduate program of Marine Biology are fit to enter medical school and graduate school. On the other hand, Marine Biology graduate students are invited to collaborate in research endeavors with university partners namely, National Center for Coral Reef Research.

11. Boston University

Boston University offers an interdisciplinary course on Marine Biology as part of the core research areas in Biology. Several institutions handle the course, including the Departments of Biology and Earth & Environment, New England Aquarium, National Marine Sanctuary Program, and Sea Education Association.

Any student can apply for a Ph.D. slot provided that they have undergone the necessary biology and chemistry courses. Admissions for this program are competitive, given that Boston University is one of the world’s top schools for marine biologists. Students can use the Biology Research Building and the Science & Engineering Library for research and training purposes.

12. Samford University

Hailed by the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education as the first among the universities in the United States in terms of Student Engagement, Samford University is a private, Christian university in Alabama. The university offers a 128-credit Marine Science course consisting of 55-57 credits of major subjects.

The Dauphin Island Sea Lab, managed by the Marine Environmental Science Consortium, is the home of Marine Science students for a semester or two summer terms to fulfill the requirements of the course. Moreover, they are expected to be knowledgeable of General Education (Social Sciences, Natural & Computational Sciences, and Fine Arts), Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics.

13. University of Oregon – Oregon Institute of Marine Biology

The University of Oregon is famous for its intensive training program in Marine Biology conducted on the main campus and at the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston. The undergraduate program covers two years of theoretical learning courses and at least three terms of hands-on, field-based education.

The university also offers internships and Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programs for students longing for additional exposure in the field. Masteral students are expected to complete 24-credit courses and write a thesis. Doctorate students who are academically excelling are backed by the university for at least four years in the program.

14. University of California, Los Angeles

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is a public university whose expertise lies in the vast fields of Paleobiology, Evolutionary Biology. It is also known to be one of the top universities in the world for marine biology. UCLA’s prestige is also due to its competitive students who have their research published in peer-reviewed journals.

UCLA is popular for holding the Marine Biology Quarter (MBQ) wherein students have the chance to experience what it is like to be a marine biologist. During the MBQ, the participating students will be under the tutelage of their professors and competent graduate assistants while they conduct their own research projects. The output of their study will be presented during finals week.

15. University of Bologna

The University of Bologna is a prestigious university boasting of multiple research endeavors financially backed by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) and the Emilia-Romagna Regional Government. The university mainly employs a traditional teaching style for most of its courses yet, it encourages students to take earning opportunities outside the four corners of the classroom.

The two-year masteral course includes a 150-hour internship with the student’s or the Faculty Internship Office’s chosen organization. In addition, students can also attend marine environment seminars, campaigns, and relevant conferences and conventions.

16. Dalhousie University

Dalhousie University is one of the best places to take up Marine Biology due to its proximity to the shores of Halifax, Atlantic Canada. The curriculum is structured strategically placing general biology and foundation-building science courses in the first year of the program. Junior and senior students shall begin to delve deeper into the course as they encounter the areas of diversity and physiology of marine flora and fauna.

Undergraduate Marine Biology students can enroll in an honors class or co-op education. Prospective students who are interested in coupling Marine Biology with Oceanography can apply for the honors class. On the other hand, those who apply for co-op education shall be able to study while working in the industry, government, or ecotourism.

17. University of Melbourne

Widely considered to be one of the best universities in the world for studies in marine biology, the University of Melbourne offers a top-notch program for undergraduates. Since it is a bachelor’s program, the first two years of the curriculum are allocated for the essential courses: Chemistry and Biology. Afterward, an in-depth study of Marine Biology is dedicated to the third year of study.

The university also sees the importance of having non-science subjects in the curriculum, allowing students to have a more holistic college experience. Graduates of this degree can pursue a career in commercial aquaculture or environmental monitoring.


Hopefully, this article on some of the best marine biology schools was helpful. Check also the Available Programs for International Students to learn more about studying abroad.

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