Undergraduate Marine Science Program

Director Undergraduate Program in Oceanography:

Dr. Silke Severmann (she/her),

Room 303D
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
Tel 848-932-3488
Marine science is the study of the marine environment and its interactions with the earth, the biosphere, and the atmosphere. It is therefore an interdisciplinary science requiring knowledge of the principles of physics, geology and geophysics, mathematics, chemistry, and biology. A major in marine sciences provides students with a broad curriculum in the sciences, which demonstrates how the different disciplines can be brought to bear on understanding marine processes and managing ocean resources wisely.

The Major prepares students for a broad range of marine and environmental science fields, civil service careers in environmental management and consulting, or teaching in secondary schools. Further, the interdisciplinary coursework prepares students for graduate studies in oceanography, or one of the basic science disciplines.

The Marine Science curriculum emphasizes improvement of oral and written communication skills and facility in accessing, reading, and understanding the current primary literature in marine sciences. Several courses include hands-on, experiential learning in the laboratory or in the field. Students also are required to complete an experience-based education requirement.

Marine Science is a credit-intensive major, available to students in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS) or the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS). Students are advised to declare the major as soon as possible so they can receive advice on their academic program.

Program Learning Goals

Program learning goals describe knowledge students will acquire, skills they will develop, and experiences they will have upon completing the requirements for the degree program.

  1. Master the basic biological, chemical, physical, and geological principles of marine science.
  2. Analyze and interpret contemporary oceanographic datasets.
  3. Show evidence of scientific literacy, and communicate the information effectively both orally and in writing.
  4. Develop, conduct, and report on an applied research experience in marine science in collaboration with a scientific mentor.
  5. Evaluate contemporary global issues and the ethics of how the ocean’s resources are used.

The Marine Science curriculum emphasizes the improvement of oral and written communication skills, and competency in reading, understanding and synthesizing scientific literature. Courses at all levels emphasize hands-on learning in the laboratory and in the field. The program includes five different options, allowing students to explore a particular field of study aligned with their interests:

Marine Biology/Biological Oceanography

Courses focus on biological organization at the molecular, cellular, organismic, community, and ecosystem level. Depending on the electives chosen, students may fulfill the require­ments for a second major in Biological Sciences or Ecology and Evolution. Current challenges include the loss of biological diversity, sustainable fishing, or changes in marine ecosystems due to climate change.

Marine Chemistry

The coursework covers inorganic, organic and analytical chemistry. It explores the chemistry of the ocean at the interface of biology, geology, and physics. Current challenges include ocean acidification, the expansion of anoxic “dead zones” in coastal areas, microplastic pollution, and the ocean’s capacity to store anthropogenic CO2.

Physical Oceanography

This course of study focuses on large scale ocean circulation, costal systems, ocean observing technologies, and ocean-climate modeling. Current challenges include air-sea interactions and their effects on hurricanes, large-scale changes in ocean circulation, polar ice sheet retreat, storm surges, coastal and estuarine dynamics and erosion.

Marine Geology

Courses cover all aspects of geology, such as sedimentology, mineralogy, geophysics, structural geology, hydrogeology, and evolution of the Earth’s ocean and atmosphere. Current challenges include sea-level rise, deep-sea mining of precious metals, reconstruction of past climate change, and “geoengineering” solutions to reduce the effects of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

Directed Marine Studies

The Directed Marine Studies program most closely resembles the Marine Biology option but includes a requirement to complete a minor or certificate program that facilitate employment following graduation. This option is only available to students in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.