Cal Poly Bachelor of Science Degree in Marine Sciences

Two Cal Poly students pause during a marine sciences diving course.

Cal Poly has an ideal geographic location for training future marine scientists. Diverse ecosystems are incorporated into the teaching and research programs, including the Center for Coastal Marine Sciences pier marine laboratory facility in Avila Beach.

The B.S. in Marine Sciences degree program is designed to provide students with a broad foundation in multiple areas of marine sciences, including ample opportunities for active application of knowledge-based projects to the lab and field. Students will be required to engage in community-oriented outreach activities to promote ocean literacy. We have included flexibility in the degree to allow students to focus on one of the sub-disciplines, including marine biology, chemistry, oceanography, or the more technical and instrumentation-focused areas in engineering.

The degree includes lower-division coursework across all scientific disciplines to provide a balanced education for students. The degree includes upper-division experiences in our core marine courses (Marine Ecology, Biological Oceanography, Marine Chemistry, and Ocean Sampling) and courses focusing on diversity of marine organisms, conservation and community involvement.

Through experience-based learning, including faculty-led research projects, the Marine Sciences BS students will develop critical thinking and analytical skills in areas such as physiology of marine organisms, conservation, fisheries, oceanographic sampling, and data networks.  This degree curriculum will prepare students to enter and lead the workforce or to matriculate in premier graduate programs in the interdisciplinary field of marine sciences.

The Center for Coastal Marine Sciences offers a B.S. and an M.S. through the Biological Sciences Department. Specific program requirements vary depending on concentration for undergraduates and course of study for graduate students.


Program requirements for undergraduates in the Biological Sciences Department vary depending on which concentration the student chooses. In general, the degree consists of 72 units of general education and 60 units of upper-division coursework.


The Center for Coastal Marine Sciences at Cal Poly offers a Masters of Science through the Biological Sciences Department. This degree offers both breadth and depth to students. Faculty are involved in a wide range of research programs, and graduate students play an integral role in these programs. The M.S. degree requires 45 units of coursework.

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