I am a high school student. How should I prepare for studying
marine biology in college?
The subject area courses most important in this curriculum
are Biology, Chemistry, Math and English. It is also
important to have computer skills. We encourage you
to obtain first hand experience in marine biology and
research by doing activities such as: science fair projects,
visiting the ocean, enrolling in summer marine studies
camps, volunteering at an aquarium, or even learning
marine skills such as small boat handling or scuba diving.
2).I am a second year college student changing
majors. I would like to be in marine biology, but I
have no background in math or science. What do your
recommend I do?
First, take a look at the first two years of the curriculum
for this degree. You will need to catch up, either at
the college where you are currently enrolled or by transferring
to a University of Hawaii campus. The latter option
would insure the transferability of your coursework
and put you in position to learn more about the ocean
through field trips and activities associated with your
introductory courses and those sponsored by the UH Marine
Option Program. You may even be able to secure marine-related
3). How much math do I need?
Math is very important. It is the "language of
science". This curriculum requires two semesters
of calculus and one semester of statistics. To enroll
in the calculus course, you must have completed geometry,
trigonometry and algebra. Your knowledge in these areas
will be tested through a placement examination administered
by the Department of Mathematics. Some 'remedial' math
classes are offered at the Manoa campus, others are
available at the community colleges.
4). Do I need chemistry?
Yes, much of the cutting edge research in biology now
is based on processes you need to understand at the
cellular and molecular levels. The BS Marine Biology
curriculum requires that you complete courses in inorganic
and organic chemistry as well as biochemistry. The Department
of Chemistry administers a placement examination prior
to enrollment to evaluate the adequacy of your pre-UH
5). What about physics?
Yes, one year of college physics with labs is required
(either calculus-based or non-calculus based).
6). I am not good in math and the more quantitative
aspects of science. I still want to pursue ocean studies
and prepare for a career in this area. What can I do?
Math is very important for all marine sciences. However,
if math is not your thing, you might consider seeking
a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies or
Geography. Through the Liberal Studies Program, you
can design your own curriculum. Many areas of ocean
policy, natural resources and coastal zone management,
aquaculture, communication, education, and natural history
interpretation can be based on a more qualitative foundation
in the natural sciences, integrated with studies in
the social sciences and business.
7). What are the other alternatives in the
At UH Manoa there is also a BS in Global Environmental
Science offered through the Department of Oceanography.
GES is a holistic approach to the study of the Earth
and its systems. It includes information on physical,
chemical, biological and human processes.
8). How does this differ from the BS Marine
The Marine Biology degree focuses on the organisms
which inhabit the ocean and the processes by which they
live and interact with their environment. The GES Degree
devotes more time to the life sciences, instead devoting
more time to the physical processes in the water, on
the sea floor, and in the atmosphere, especially as
they are influenced by human activities. Review the
course requirements for the two degrees to better understand
the content and thrust of each.
9). I am transferring to UH from another college.
How much of my previous coursework, particularly in
math and science can satisfy UH graduation requirements
for the BS in Marine Biology?
If you are transferring from another UH campus, click
here to see which courses apply.
If you are transferring from outside the UH system,
the university will decide this after you are admitted.
For more information, download the
UH official policy on transfers. It
could help to bring along your college's catalog of
course descriptions and the syllabi from key courses,
in case you need to appeal a decision.
10). Do I have to be able to scuba dive?
No, but this is a skill which can open opportunities
for you. Many research projects are underway which utilize
experienced diving marine biologists. The University
of Hawaii is a member of the American Academy of Underwater
Sciences (AAUS) which sets standards for scientific
diving operations. The UH Diving Safety Office supervises
diving protocols and conducts training. The Marine Option
Program conducts an annual 3-credit, two-week course
on how to survey coral reefs. QUEST, Quantitative Underwater
Surveying Techniques, is organized by UH Hilo MOP.
11). Do I get to swim with dolphins?
Maybe, but probably not. Most life in the sea is lower
on the food chain, and that is where this marine biology
program will focus. Marine mammals of course will be
included in your studies, but they will comprise a relatively
small segment. At UH, most of the researchers working
with dolphins are investigating various aspects of dolphin
behavior. Thus these scientists, with some exceptions
are affiliated with the Department of Psychology. The
UH maintains captive marine mammals for research and
education purposes at the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal
Laboratory [cetaceans] (KBMML), the Hawaii Institute
of Marine Biology [cetaceans] (HIMB), and the Waikiki
Aquarium [pinnipeds]. Some studies of wild populations,
including strandings, are carried out. Local tourist
attractions such as Dolphin Quest, Sea Life Park, and
Dolphin Excursions provide viewing and limited interactive
12). What extra-curricular ocean activities
In addition to its academic certificate program, the
Marine Option Program sponsors educational field trips,
non-credit classes, scuba instruction, workshops, symposia
and seminars. The UH Manoa Bureau of Student Activities
sponsors classes in kayaking, body-/board-/wind-surfing,
sailing, scuba, snorkeling, etc. BSA also rents sports
13). What internships and jobs are available
The Marine Option Program sponsors many opportunities
and is an information clearinghouse for others. Check
its website, bulletin boards, clipboards in its study
center, or 'design your own' with the help of MOP staff.
We recommend you check the MOP website, the Student
Employment and Cooperative Education Office and internships.
14). Is there financial aid available?
In addition to student employment, a variety of other
sources are available through the Financial Aid Office:
scholarships, loans, Federal Work Study, etc. Individual
colleges, schools, departments, and programs also administer
more targeted aid. For instance, the Marine Option Program
annually awards a scholarship to one of its students
who exemplifies marine scholarship and ocean stewardship:
The Anna Toy Ng Memorial MOP Scholarship.