Marine Biology

Dive headfirst into the study of oceanography, marine ecology, fisheries biology and more with a degree in Marine Biology. Situated on Mount Hope Bay in RWU’s state-of-the-art Marine and Natural Sciences Building -- home to an aquatic animal diagnostic lab and the state’s only shellfish hatchery -- the Marine Biology program teaches students to discover the aquatic world through lectures, labs, fieldwork and independent research in preparation for careers as scientists and educators.

Degree Requirements

The Marine Biology Major

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Marine Biology majors can receive either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. Marine Biology majors must satisfy all University Core Curriculum requirements and the College speech requirement, COMM 210. A Critical Writing course at the 200-level or above is a prerequisite to advanced courses and should be completed prior to the junior year. In addition, Marine Biology majors must successfully complete the following courses and sufficient electives to total 120 credits. Majors are encouraged to apply electives toward a minor or second major. Marine Biology majors may apply a maximum of two (2) courses from the major requirements towards a minor in Environmental Science, or a maximum of two (2) upper-level Marine Biology electives towards the elective requirements for the major in Environmental Science.

SubjectNumberTitle
BIO103Biology I and Lab
BIO104Biology II and Lab
BIO200Genetics and Lab
BIO204Introduction to Marine Biology
NATSC204Principles of Oceanography
CHEM191, 192Principles of Chemistry I and II and Labs
CHEM301Organic Chemistry I and Lab
MATH250Biostatistics
or  
MATH315Probability and Statistics

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Students pursuing the Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology must also complete the following courses:

SubjectNumberTitle
One additional course from the following list:
CHEM302Organic Chemistry II and Lab
CHEM201Environmental Chemistry I and Lab
CHEM202Environmental Chemistry II and Lab
CHEM311Analytical Chemistry and Lab
BIO333Biochemistry for the Life Sciences (Students who complete BIO 333 may use the course to satisfy the above requirement or they may count the course as a BIO elective, but the course may not count for both.)
and
MATH213Calculus I and Lab
and either
MATH214Calculus II and Lab
or
MATH218Applied Calculus for Life Sciences
and
PHYS201, 202Principles of Physics I and II and Labs

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

Students pursuing the Bachelor of Arts in Marine Biology must also complete the following courses:

SubjectNumberTitle
MATH136Precalculus
PHYS109, 110Physics I and II and Labs
MATH 124 (Basic Statistics) is an acceptable alternative for BIO 250 (Introduction to Biostatistics) for the BA degree.

Students completing the Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Marine Biology must also complete a minimum of 21 (B.S.) or 28 (B.A.) additional credits from among the following courses. Students must take at least one course from either the Applied or the Molecular Category.

Organismal and Ecology Category

Students must take at least one course marked * and at least one course marked **

SubjectNumberTitle
AQS318Aquatic Animal Health
BIO220Marine Vertebrate Zoology and Lab*
BIO302Ichthyology and Lab*
BIO335Invertebrate Zoology and Lab*
BIO350Marine Mammalogy*
BIO255Survey of Marine Autotrophs**
BIO355Marine Phycology and Lab**
BIO356Biology of Plankton and Lab**
BIO305Neotropical Marine Biology
BIO310Tropical Ecology
BIO315Animal Physiology and Lab
BIO320Marine Ecology and Lab

Applied Category

SubjectNumberTitle
AQS262Aquarium System Design and Life Support and Lab
AQS264Principles of Aquatic Animal Husbandry and Lab
AQS314Field Collection Methods (Bahamas)
AQS346Principles of Hatchery Management and Lab
BIO312Conservation Biology
BIO332Fisheries Science
BIO345Aquaculture
BIO392/393Animal Nutrition/Animal Nutrition Lab
NATSC301Marine Resource Management
NATSC333Environmental Monitoring and Analysis and Lab

Molecular Category

SubjectNumberTitle
BIO340Biotechnology and Lab
BIO370Virology and Lab
NATSC401Environmental Toxicology and Lab

Students may only count one short-term abroad course per category towards the Marine Biology major.

The SEA Semester Option

Prerequisite for majors: Satisfactory completion of the writing and mathematics requirements and the five-course Interdisciplinary Core; a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above; and permission from the program faculty.

Prerequisite for Core Concentration: Students who are not majoring in science or mathematics may use the SEA Semester to fulfill the Core Concentration requirement provided the following prerequisites are met before the SEA Semester: satisfactory completion of the writing, mathematics, and the five-course Interdisciplinary Core; a GPA of 2.5; and permission of the program faculty.

Students in good academic standing who meet the prerequisites may apply to attend a SEA Semester through the Sea Education Association (SEA) of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This exciting and challenging off-campus program combines onshore classes, labs, and field work, in ocean sciences and maritime studies with an offshore sailing and research experience. Students attending a SEA Semester enroll in the following courses:

SubjectNumberTitle
BIO411Applied Oceanography (3 credits)
BIO412Nautical Science (3 credits)
BIO414Maritime Studies (3 credits)
BIO416Marine Technology (4 credits)
BIO418Practical Oceanographic Research (4 credits)

Marine biology majors who successfully complete a SEA semester receive eight (8) credits towards the Applied elective category.

This program is academically affiliated; however, certain restrictions exist for the transfer of institutional aid. Please consult the Spiegel Center for details.

Semester Program at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS)

Prerequisite for majors: Satisfactory completion of the University Core Curriculum requirements and the five-course Interdisciplinary Courses.

This semester-long course of study examines the natural processes and human interventions found in the Gulf Stream, the Sargasso Sea, and the coral archipelago, Bermuda. Students are introduced to the interactions that determine the distribution and abundance patterns of tropical marine organisms, with emphasis on the ecology of near-shore areas. Basic principles of ecology are integrated with an understanding of the sea as a habitat for life. Major groups of dominant marine organisms of the region are examined in the field. Major near-shore marine habitats are examined, along with their associated biotic communities. Coral reef ecosystems are emphasized to illustrate basic concepts. Students conduct a major research project. Fall

Students enroll in the following courses:

SubjectNumberTitle
BIO361Coral Reef Ecology (4 credits)
BIO336Tropical Marine Invertebrate Zoology (4 credits)
BIO410Research Diving Methods (3 credits)
BIO410Marine Biology Research (6 credits)

For marine biology majors participating in the Bermuda semester, BIO 361 replaces BIO 320 (Organismal and Ecology category) and BIO 336 replaces BIO 335 (Organismal and Ecology category). In addition, students receive 3 elective credits towards the Applied category.

Marine Biology Internship at the New England Aquarium (NEAq)

Prerequisites: Satisfactory completion of the writing and mathematics requirements and the five course interdisciplinary CORE; a cumulative GPA of 2.8 or above; recommendation from a RWU Faculty member; and acceptance by the program faculty at the New England Aquarium (NEAq).

This semester-long course of study provides a rigorous introduction to the research and educational opportunities provided by a major public aquarium. The internship will
consist of an active research component in a laboratory setting under the direction of an NEAq research scientist, an animal husbandry experience with responsibilities that may include feeding animals, cleaning tanks and equipment, and providing treatment for diseased animals, and the successful completion of a dedicated course of research under the direction of an RWU biology faculty member.

Students enroll in the following courses:

SubjectNumberTitle
AQS260Principles of Animal Husbandry and Lab
AQS420Research Internship at the New England Aquarium
AQS450Research in Aquarium Science

The Marine Biology Minor

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SubjectNumberTitle
BIO103Biology I and Lab
or
BIO104Biology II and Lab
and
BIO204Introduction to Marine Biology
NATSC204Principles of Oceanography
And a minimum of 8 additional credits taken from the Applied or Organismal categories of marine biology courses.

*Note: Biology may not serve as a minor for a Marine Biology major and Marine Biology may not serve as a minor for a Biology major.

To read more about our academic offerings, or to view full course descriptions, please refer to our University Catalog.

Student Learning Outcomes

By the time a student has completed a major in Biology or Marine Biology, s/he is expected to be able to demonstrate the following competencies:

  1. formulate a scientific question or problem
  2. design a properly controlled experiment or field study that tests a clearly-stated hypothesis
  3. evaluate evidence critically and quantitatively, and apply this knowledge to novel situations.
  4. effectively communicate scientific knowledge orally, graphically, and in writing
  5. conduct a search of peer-reviewed print and electronic resources relevant to a research project in the life sciences
  6. understand the role of macromolecules in cellular processes
  7. understand the relationship between the structure and function of cellular components
  8. understand the relationship between the structure and function of major organ systems
  9. understand the mechanisms of physiological homeostasis
  10. describe cellular and physiological adaptations that have evolved in a variety of phyla
  11. understand the key discoveries of modern biology (including molecular biology and bioinformatics)
  12. understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of inheritance
  13. understand the species concept and the factors affecting biodiversity
  14. describe the patterns and mechanisms of evolution
  15. understand how phylogenetic relationships among taxa are determined
  16. describe the patterns and mechanisms of population distribution, growth and regulation
  17. understand the flow of matter and energy through natural systems from the molecular to the ecosystem level
  18. describe interactions among biotic and abiotic factors in natural systems
  19. understand the life history strategies of organisms
  20. describe the major global biological communities and biomes
  21. understand significant interactions and dependencies between human and natural systems
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