Do you love spending time in the ocean? Are you curious about the sea and the life in it? Does the idea of studying how the activities in the sea affect marine life interest you? Then, you should totally read the 10 best marine biology colleges in California and everything you need to know about studying marine biology in California.

Before we begin with the best marine biology colleges in California, see the table of content below.

What is Marine Biology

Marine biology is the study of life in the oceans and other saltwater environments such as estuaries and wetlands. It is a study that investigates the adaptations and advantages of marine species and their application to industrial processes.

It studies fishes, both salt and freshwater species.

Its studies range from their classification to their morphology, evolution, behavior, diversity, and ecology. It also studies whales, their behaviors, habitats, health, reproduction, and population.

Marine biology is a very broad area, so most researchers select a particular area of interest and specialize in it. Specializations can be based on particular species, group, behaviour, technique, or ecosystem.

Is a Marine Biology Degree Worth it?

If you really do enjoy the sea, life in it and tropical areas this is one of the best jobs. It will be up to you and future generations to build upon existing knowledge of the ocean and its potential to help meet the needs of the world and its inhabitants.

Also read: 10 Aquatic/Marine Science Scholarships For International Students 2022

Why Study Marine Biology in California

Life in the sea has been a subject of fascination for thousands of years. One of the most important reasons to study sea life is simply to understand the world in which we live as water takes over 50% of the earth.

As a marine biologist, you have an enormous opportunity to save the planet. The research, passion, and effort in sharing knowledge about marine life can shine a light on different ways to save it and really inspire the change.

You would also have the chance to meet different people with different philosophies, exposing you to learn more and rub minds together.

This is one of the best jobs in the world. You would live in breathtaking places and also get close to amazing marine creatures. You would work in beautiful tropical locations, diving and snorkelling with sea creatures.

There are also a lot of volunteers and internship opportunities made available for students of marine biology. You would get to work while studying. Fun right?

Below we will discuss the best marine biology colleges in California.

What do Marine Biologists in California do?

After studying marine biology in California and getting certified, you would study oceans and their organisms. Marine biologists in California also work to protect, observe, or manage marine organisms or animals, plants, and microbes. In zoos and aquariums, they take care of marine animal life and observe their reactions to the environment and their behaviour patterns.

They access marine animals to be sure they are thriving.

Marine biologists in California can also specialize in studying marine toxins’ complex makeup and their impact on the environment, or how the weather impacts sea life. They work together to build damaged ecosystems, advocate or help with environmental compliance, or help at fisheries management or the coast guard.

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They investigate a population’s behaviours or physiology and access the effects of human activity on those animals and habitats.

In addition, marine biologists manage wildlife preserves to protect aquatic organisms. They study fish populations or test for bioactive drugs.

In some cases, they may recommend alternative industrial practices to minimize negative effects on marine species and habitats. They also write scientific reports from their findings and publish them to educate others. They can also teach at a university or college or act as consultants for various agencies.

Do you now see reasons to study marine biology in these best colleges in California?

Where do Marine Biologists Work in California

As a marine biologist in California, there are several job opportunities available to you. These positions typically offer greater job security and more opportunity for advancement.

Below is a list of places you can work after studying marine biology in these best colleges in California:

  • Zoos
  • Aquariums
  • Museums
  • University Research Laboratories
  • Private Companies
  • Government Research Laboratories
  • Non-profit environmental Advocacy Organizations
  • Consulting Firms
  • Engineering companies
  • Pollution and water control companies
  • Environmental Research Councils
  • Energy, Oil and Gas Exploration firms involved in Marine Energy

What is the Job Outlook of Marine Biologists in California?

Becoming a marine biologist can be competitive, but gaining hands-on experience before graduation has always proved to be very helpful.

As a marine biologist in California, you can work full-time and in a variety of shifts. You would often work in the fields and also outdoors on ships, beaches, or even at salt marshes when conducting researches.

Field work contracts are usually between 40-50 hours a week although the exact hours are project-specific and may be dictated by the tide. If you work for a university, consultancy, and NGO, your hours would be more structured, although this may vary if you are working with academics on particular projects.

Research works whether you are a post-doctoral research fellow or professor can be very flexible because you are managing your own research.

While the job outlook varies from job to job, there are duties which you would typically encounter as a marine biologist-

  • Researches relating to current discoveries in the fields.
  • Collecting samples of biological samples for analysis
  • Researching on the behavior and relationships among organisms in the marine environment
  • Analysis on the distribution of organisms and their environment in the ocean
  • Maintenance of the instrument used to track organisms and measure the properties of the environment
  • Working to build damaged marine ecosystems
  • Advocate for and monitor environmental compliance
  • Providing assistances to those who manage fisheries and helping coast guards too as required.
  • Constructing grant proposals to fund research and fieldwork
  • Drafting of scientific papers reporting research findings
  • Presenting of research finding to policymakers and stake holders
  • Keeping up to date with new research and technologies and attending training courses.

How much does a Marine Biologist in California make?

The amount of money you would earn as a marine biologist in California depends on your level of experience, the degrees you have, and the kind of place you want to be employed in.

This is one of the reasons to attend the best marine biology colleges in California.

However, the annual wage for a marine biologist is somewhere around $145,450. Those employed by the federal government and in academia earn more than those in state government and other sectors.

Which Body Accredits Marine Biology in California

These 10 best schools for marine biology programs in California are accredited by the California Board of Education.

To determine the accreditation status of any college or university, the commission uses a publication entitled Accredited Institutions of Postsecondary Education(AIPE) to verify accreditation.

How much does it cost to Attend the Best Colleges for MArine Biology in California?

Basically, you are asking how much it costs to complete a Marine Biology Program in California, right?

Every school in California has its own specific cost for running a program in marine biology. However, the average tuition and fees of the marine biology programs at the schools are $10,343 for state residents and $29,706 for out-of-state students in 2022.

How long does it take to Complete a Program in Marine Biology in California?

Most undergraduate studies are 3 or 4 years long. This depends on the school, their speed, and on the type of program you run- whether part-time or full-time.

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How can you Apply for a Marine Biology Program in California?

To apply for a marine biology program in California, you would be required to reach out to the schools listed below for inquiries. The links have been provided and most of them enable students to apply online.

Go to the official website and submit the documents, answer the necessary questions and provide the information.  

Read: Top 10 Best Colleges for Marine Biology in the World, 2022 l Cost, Requirements

Requirements for Applying for a Marine Program in California

  • You must have done well in math, biology, chemistry, physics and natural sciences.
  • Standardized test score from the SAT or ACT. GRE scores will also be accepted, but only if SAT or ACT scores are unavailable.
  • At least two letters of recommendation are required and must be submitted. They could be from academic instructors who can strongly attest to your academic ability; individuals, ideally health care professionals, who served in a supervisory capacity for you
  • A complete online application.

10 Best Schools/Colleges for Marine Biology Programs in California in 2022

These are the best marine biology colleges and programs in California;

1. University of California- Los Angeles

University of California Los Angles is a highly rated public university located in Los Angeles, California. It is a large institution with an enrollment of 30,969 undergraduate students. Admissions are extremely competitive as the UCLA acceptance rate is 12%.

UCLA alumni earn a starting salary of $44,500.

It is one of the best marine biology colleges in California. To apply to this university, click here.

2. University of California- Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara, one of the best marine biology colleges in California is a highly rated public university located in Isla Vista, California in the Santa Barbara Area.

It is a large institution with an enrollment of 22,846 undergraduate students. Admissions are competitive as the UC Santa Barbara acceptance rate is 30%

Graduating 83% of students, UC Santa Barbara alumni earn a starting salary of $39,000.  The net cost of tuition is about $16,767.

To apply to this university, click here

3. University of California- San Diego

UC San Diego is a highly rated public university located in San Diego, California. It is a large institution with an enrollment of 29,966 undergraduate students.

It is one of the best marine biology colleges in California.

Admission is fairly competitive as the UC San Diego acceptance rate is 31%.

Graduating 87% of students, UC San Diego alumni earn a starting salary of $43,400. To be accepted into the University of California- San Diego, your SAT Range must be between 1250 and 1490. The application fee for this university is $70.

Tuition at the University of California- San Diego is $14,864

To apply to this university, click here

4. California State University- Long Beach-

California State University – Long Beach is also one of the best marine biology colleges in California.

It is nationally recognized as a leading public comprehensive university. It has been listed best in the west in The Princeton Review’s 2011.

This comprehensive training program was developed by the Center for International Trade and Transportation at California State University, Long Beach in collaboration with Marine Terminal Operators (MTOs).

The program covers all aspects of terminal operations and increases career opportunities for individuals who either seek entry or advancement into this dynamic industry.

Students will gain the critical knowledge and skills required by marine terminal operators worldwide to thrive in this highly competitive environment.

To apply to this university, click here.

5. California State University- Fullerton

Founded in 1957, California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) is a public university located in Fullerton, California and the largest institution in the CSU System by enrolment.

CSUF is a comprehensive, regional university with a global outlook, located in Orange County, a technologically rich and culturally vibrant area of metropolitan Los Angeles.

US News & World Report (September 2010) ranks CSUF among Top Public Universities, (No. 10 among Top Public Universities-Master’s institutions in the West). 

CSUF is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

CSUF’s affordable undergraduate and graduate programs provide students with the best of current practice, theory, and research and integrate professional studies with preparation in the arts and sciences.

To apply to this university, click here.

6. California State University- San Bernardino

California State University, San Bernardino is one of the fastest-growing universities in California, largely because of its expanding service area of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, which covers 27,000 square miles.

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CSUSB was one of only four Global Business Education Award winners from the United States and was named the “most innovative school of business” in the Western US. The publication listed one winner for each of the 18 regions around the world.

To apply to this university, click here.

7. California Maritime Academy at Vallejo

Cal Maritime is one of only seven degree-granting maritime academies in the United States – and the only one on the West Coast.

In 2008 the U.S. News and World Report ranked Cal Maritime as the 6th best Baccalaureate College on the West Coast.

Operating this global enterprise requires engineers, business leaders, port managers, deck officers, environmental advocates, maritime security consultants, etc.

Cal Maritime produces professionals in these and other areas related to the ocean as a resource and an engine for a global economy.

To apply to this university, click here.

8. University of California at Irvine(UCI)

This university offers leading centres for marine research. Its interdisciplinary approach towards the study of the waters and their environments distinguishes it.

The program focuses on the planning, design, operation, and management of marine life.

To apply to this university and to find out more, click here

9. University of California Riverside (UCR)

The university is in the city of Riverside, Southern California, and conveniently located near mountains, desert & beaches.

Located east of Los Angeles and north of San Diego, Riverside is an All-American City and the county administrative centre.

The area enjoys a year-round temperate climate and an exceptional quality of life with its architectural beauty, cultural art museums, quality housing, and a wide variety of recreational opportunities.

In terms of accreditation, UCR is a member of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate School of Business accredits the School of Business.

Read: 13 Best Biology Schools in the World | 2022

10. California State University at Fresno

This university is very highly rated as being among the best marine colleges in California. It is one of the 23 campuses in a system that awards more than half of California’s Bachelor’s degree. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious campuses in the California State University System.

Fresno is fully accredited by the California Board of Education.

Students are also encouraged to gain additional skills to complement their education through internships/career experience.

To apply to this university, click here

Frequently Asked Questions

How to become a marine biologist?

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required to become a marine biologist in 2022. However, many employers prefer applicants to have a master’s degree specializing in marine biology and aquatic studies, and it is also becoming common that employers want candidates to have a doctorate degree.

Where can I explore a career as a marine biologist?

Organizations such as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Marine Bio, American Fisheries Society, and the Society for Marine Mammologists are great places to explore this career field.

What job titles can a marine biologist work under?

Marine biologists work under titles such as wildlife biologist, zoologist, fish and wildlife biologist, fisheries biologist, aquatic biologist, conservation biologist, and biological technician.

What is the job demand for marine biologists?

BLS projects show that job demand for marine biologists as a whole would be 3-7% through 2022, slower than average for all occupations. Those with advanced math and computer skills will be at an advantage in the job market.

Can I be a marine biologist in California if I am scared of water?

Yes! There is plenty of research done in research labs and offices. You can sit in a lab, do research, write papers, and educate. After you get a degree, you can apply to work in these places instead of the fields.


To be successful in this career path, have a passion for the marine world. Have a thirst for discovery and making a difference to future generations, flexibility to work short-term contracts with variable hours on varied projects.

In addition, have interpersonal skills to work with a variety of people from local fishermen and government officials to activists and professors.

These are the best marine biology colleges for programs in California.



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