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1). 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 student employment.

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 chemistry studies.

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 sciences?

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 Biology Degree?

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 opportunities.

12). What extra-curricular ocean activities are there?

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 equipment.

13). What internships and jobs are available for undergraduates?

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.

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For technical problems with this website contact: mbiology@hawaii.edu
Last updated: 13-May-2003