Undergraduate Program

CSULB is one of only a handful of schools that offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Biology. This degree program, operated under the auspices of the Biological Sciences Department, is designed both for students considering graduate work in marine biology, and also for those seeking employment in private industry or governmental agencies.

The campus is located just a few kilometers from the Pacific Ocean, and so its diverse marine habitats -- bays, estuaries, beaches, rocky intertidal, open water -- are easily accessible even for short fieldtrips. Students in the program get extensive experience in field work as well as in the study of marine organisms and marine biological processes in the laboratory. Other program emphases include training in data analysis and scientific writing, key skills for career advancement.

Faculty in the marine biology program are active researchers in the field, with particular emphases in the areas of aquatic toxicology, developmental and larval biology, physiological, behavioral, population, and community ecology, and evolution. There are many opportunities for undergraduates to work directly with faculty to carry out and publish original, cutting-edge research in marine biology.

CSULB undergraduates in lab and in the field

Other program highlights include the annual Catalina Semester, an opportunity to spend an entire fall semester living at a field station on Santa Catalina Island, taking upper-division courses in marine biology; internship opportunities at local public aquaria and resource management agencies; a faculty-led professional development series to help students prepare for reaching their career goals; and activities sponsored by a very active marine biology student organization.

Come join us to study marine biology at "The Beach"!


Our freshman begin as pre-Marine Biology majors and are part of a close-knit cohort who take many of the same classes together. Once they reach their milestones of successfully passing one semester of calculus, two semesters of chemistry, and General Education courses in Written Communication, Oral Communication, and Critical Thinking, students become declared Marine Biology majors.

Admission to all majors at CSULB is highly competitive and students are encouraged to obtain the highest GPA they can while in high school. In addition, students are encouraged to take both math and chemistry at the high school level in order to be fully prepared for college-level courses once they are admitted.

Transfer Students

Students interested in transferring to CSULB to major in Marine Biology should have a strong foundation in math and chemistry. Lower division courses required for transferring are Calculus I, General Chemistry I and II, and the General Education Foundation (Written Communication, Oral Communication, and Critical Thinking). At least one semester of biology for majors is also encouraged.

All transfer students must have completed 60 transferable semester units or 90 transferable quarter units. Since admissions are extremely competitive, applicants are encouraged to strive for the highest GPA possible.

Please visit Assist.org to identify transferable coursework from California community colleges.

International Students

We welcome undergraduate students from around the world to join us in studying marine biology at CSULB! International students at CSULB are part of an ethnically and culturally diverse campus community, and are supported by numerous campus programs and organizations. Find out more about applying to CSULB at the campus' Center for International Education.

Second Bachelor's Degrees

CSULB is not currently accepting students for second bachelor’s degrees in the Biological Sciences.

At CSULB, you will get a broad education in science and math with calculus, chemistry, and physics courses, in addition to a solid background in the biological sciences with courses such as general biological sciences, biological statistics, ecology, genetics, molecular cell biology, and animal physiology. You will also learn about a wide variety of marine organisms in specialized courses on marine algae, fishes, and invertebrates.

Furthermore, we offer specialty electives in marine microorganisms, marine mammalogy, aquatic toxicology, fisheries ecology and conservation, marine community ecology, wetland ecology, tropical marine ecology, field methods in ecology, regression analysis, multivariate statistics, geographic information systems, and physical oceanography.

Along with these course offerings, you can obtain undergraduate research experience by working with our faculty in their labs (see our faculty descriptions).

Our students get personalized advising every semester and as needed.  Pre-marine biology majors are advising through our CNSM advising center:

Declared Marine Biology majors are advised by Dr. Pernet (Bruno.Pernet@csulb.edu), who can be contacted via email.

To help prepare CSULB students for careers in marine science, each year the marine biology faculty offer a series of workshops designed specifically for marine biology majors. Each semester, students have multiple opportunities to meet informally with faculty, graduate students, alumni, and other noted professionals in the field of marine biology to enhance and promote their professional development. Workshop topics include:

  • professional societies: what are they, and why should you join one
  • internships: what is available, and why you should do one
  • scholarships and grants: what ias available, and how to apply for them
  • how to develop a curriculum vitae
  • how to gain the academic and practical experience needed to land a job
  • how to find the right graduate program

In addition, by attending these monthly workshops students get to know other students in the major.

Attendance to these workshops is limited to current CSULB marine biology premajors and majors.

The Marine Biology Student Association is an undergraduate-led organization that organizes a variety of activities like beach cleanups, trips to aquaria, and training in SCUBA diving. You can find out more about this group on Facebook

For questions about the marine biology undergraduate degree, please contact Dr. Pernet (Bruno.Pernet@csulb.edu) via email.