Marine Biology Bachelor Degrees

The School of Life Sciences at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa teaches students an appreciation for and understanding of living systems, using the unique environment of Hawai‘i as a natural laboratory for study. The curricula are designed to provide students with a strong background in the principles of biology with rigorous upper-division instruction in a number of areas. This combination of breadth and in-depth instruction allows students to develop the intellectual foundations and skills necessary to deal with the specific biological concerns of today and the flexibility to meet the needs of the various professions. From this base, our graduates can pursue future specialization with confidence. Undergraduate students pursuing the biology major have a broad selection of courses and unique opportunities to gain experience in field and laboratory work.  Students are encouraged to participate in the active research with faculty both on and off campus. The baccalaureate curricula are designed to prepare students for graduate work in biological sciences, admission to professional schools, or advanced specialized training.

2023-2024 Marine Biology Degree Requirements

Science of the Sea
(OCN 201)
Introduction to Biology I + Lab 
(BIOL 171+171L)
Introduction to Biology II + Lab 
(BIOL 172+172L)
(BIOL 220)
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
(BIOL 265)
Cell and Molecular Biology + Lab 
(BIOL 275+275L)
Marine Ecology and Evolution + Lab
(BIOL 301+301L)
Genetics + Lab 
(BIOL 375+375L)
Marine Microbiology + Lab
(MICR 401+401L)
Algal Diversity and Evolution
(BOT 480)
Biology of Invertebrates + Lab
(BIOL 485+485L)
Marine Biology Electives
Group 1 Electives (minimum 2 courses)
Group 2 Electives (minimum 3 courses)
Group 3 Electives (minimum 2 electives)
Approved Marine Biology Electives
(minimum 9 credits)
Research (4 credits)
Biological Directed Research (BIOL 499 (4 credits total))
Field Problems in Marine Biology (BIOL 403)
Capstone Course
Advanced Topics in Marine Biology (BIOL 404)
Synthesis Experience (3 credits)
Ocean Internships and Research (BIOL 400)
Field Problems in Marine Biology (BIOL 403)
Advanced Topics in Marine Biology (BIOL 404)
Biological Directed Research (BIOL 499)
Advanced QUEST (MARE 364 at UH Hilo)
Related Requirements
General Chemistry I + Lab 
(CHEM 161+161L)
General Chemistry II + Lab 
(CHEM 162+162L)
Organic Chemistry I + Lab
(CHEM 272+272L)
Physics I + Lab 
(PHYS 151+151L or 170+170L)
Physics II + Lab 
(PHYS 152+152L or 272+272L)
Calculus I 
(MATH 215, 241, or 251A)
Calculus II 
(MATH 216, 242, or 252A)

Participating in Undergraduate Research

All Biology majors, regardless of what their desired career path, are encouraged to participate in undergraduate research. Engaging in research is a great way to experience science first-hand and develop a better appreciation for the field of Biology.

Individual research opportunities: Students interested in participating in undergraduate research, known as Directed Research (BIOL 499), can count those credits towards their biology elective requirements. All students are encouraged to participate in research, even if they do not plan to pursue a Masters or PhD. The College of Natural Sciences Student Academic Success Center created a great resource to teach you all about what you need to do to find a research lab and enroll in Directed Research credits. More information about how to register for BIOL 499 can be found here.

Honors Project: For students participating in the UH Mānoa Honors Program, their honors project credits (HON 496) can be used to fulfill Biology Elective credit requirements. Find more information about the Biology Honors Track here.

Course-based undergraduate research opportunities:

SEA-PHAGES: Through the UHM Science Education Alliance – Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Sciences  program, students complete Introductory Biology lab requirements while learning to conduct research. This experience is perfect for any students requiring a full year of Introductory Biology Lab and desiring to engage in their first research project.

OPiHI: Students participating in Our Project in Hawai‘i’s Intertidal (OPiHI) complete a research project in small collaborative groups—collecting data related to coastal marine ecosystem management and conservation.

BIOL 400: BIOL 400 provides an opportunity to complete marine related internships either on- or off- campus for course credit. (For BA Marine Biology only)

BIOL 403: Field Studies in Marine Biology. Offered during Summer Session II, 2 weeks online followed by 4 weeks in person at Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). Students will live in the dorms at Moku O Loe and will have daily snorkel-based fieldwork. Students will also apply statistics to their results, prepare a written report, and give a final public presentation. This intensive experience will require full immersion, i.e. it will be conducted similarly to a research cruise, with an expectation of full-time attendance. Additional costs for HIMB dorms, food, and facilities use fees will be approximately $2,000 per student in addition to tuition.

Course Information and Program Requirements 

UH Online Class Availability 

School of Life Sciences Catalog

Listing by Programs: Biology (BIOL), Botany (BOT), Microbiology (MICR), Molecular Cell Biology (MCB), Zoology (ZOOL)

Program Sheets and 4 Year plans

Student Learning Outcomes

For a BA or BS in Marine Biology, student will be able to:
Biological Knowledge: Synthesis and Application1. Explain biological processes from molecules to ecosystems in an evolutionary context, including being able to use examples from Hawai‘i.
Critical Thinking and Reasoning Skills2. Demonstrate scientific literacy by critically evaluating scientific evidence, identifying gaps in knowledge, and applying strong evidence-based biological arguments to real-world problems.3. Apply the scientific method to generate new hypotheses, formulate experimental approaches and outline potential outcomes, applying appropriate logical and quantitative methods.
Values4. Work individually and in teams in an ethical manner, and demonstrate respect for diversity of viewpoints
Communication skills5. In oral and written forms, be able to communicate biological information clearly and professionally.