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Undergraduate: Marine Sciences

  • Program Overview

    Marine Sciences (MAR)

    Marine Sciences is a highly interdisciplinary field requiring an understanding and application of basic science, including biology, physics, and chemistry. In particular, the Marine Sciences major provides students with a solid background in basic biology as well as in the physics and chemistry of the ocean. Upper-division electives permit each student to gain a deeper understanding of particular groups of organisms (microorganisms, algae, marine invertebrates, fish, and marine mammals) and of habitats (salt marshes, rocky inter­tidal, barrier islands, dunes, estuaries, and the open ocean).

    Students are encouraged to participate in research and internships. Opportuni­ties for experiential learning are available through field and laboratory courses taught at or near the Stony Brook campus and from a field station at the Stony Brook Southampton campus.

    Most students who wish to have a career in research related to the marine environment will need to plan for graduate study. Career possibilities include research, education, or employment in government agencies or non-profit organizations.

    The Marine Sciences major is administered by the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, one of the leading oceanographic and atmospheric institutions in the nation.

    The School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) is Stony Brook University's center for education, research, and public service in the ocean, atmospheric, and environmental sciences. Housed within the SoMAS are the Marine Sciences Research Center (MSRC) and the Institute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres (ITPA).  MSRC is the only state-designated center for marine research, education, and public outreach within the State University of New York system. The SoMAS is one of the nation's leading coastal oceanographic and atmospheric institutions, and the expertise of the SoMAS faculty places SBU at the forefront of addressing and answering questions about regional environmental problems, as well as problems relating to the global ocean and atmosphere. The primary focus of the SoMAS faculty is on fundamental research designed to increase understanding of the processes that characterize the coastal ocean and the atmosphere. The SoMAS is also committed to applying the results of research to solve problems arising from society's uses and misuses of the environment. The SoMAS includes mission-oriented institutes in several major areas: the Institute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres, the Living Marine Resou­rces Institute, the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, the Long Island Ground­water Resource Institute, and the Waste Reduction and Management Institute. These institutes and many research projects add a wealth of varied resources to education and research at Stony Brook.

    The SoMAS offers undergraduate majors in atmospheric and oceanic sciences, environmental studies, marine sciences, and marine vertebrate biology, and minors in environmental studies and marine sciences. See the separate entries for atmospheric and oceanic sciences (ATM), environmental studies (ENS), and marine vertebrate biology (MVB) in the alphabetical listings of Approved Majors, Minors, and Programs. The SoMAS also offers several cooperative programs in both marine and environmental sciences with departments in the College of Arts and Sciences (Chemistry, Geosciences) and the College of Engine­ering and Applied Sciences (Chemical and Molecular Engineering).

    Students should contact the director of undergraduate studies to design and approve an acceptable course of study before decaring the major.

    Students may learn more about the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences by visiting

    Research opportunities in marine sciences, atmospheric sciences, and waste manage­ment are available to undergraduates. Information on research opportunities may be found by contacting faculty directly or on the SoMAS Web site at

  • Degrees and Requirements

    Requirements for the Major and Minor in Marine Sciences (MAR)

    Requirements for the Major in Marine Sciences (MAR)

    The major in Marine Sciences leads to a Bachelor of Sciences degree. Completion of the major requires a minimum of 69 credits. Of these, no more than one course (4 credits) with a grade lower than C can be credited to the major.

    1. Foundation Courses (40 credits)
    1. Core Courses (20 credits)
    • MAR 349 Biological Oceanography
    • MAR 351 Introduction to Ocean Chemistry
    • MAR 352 Introduction to Physical Oceanography
    • MAR 354 Introduction to Geological Oceanography
    • ATM 320 Problem Solving with Python
    • GSS 313/GSS 314 GIS Design and Application I/GIS Laboratory
    1. Focus Area (Choose one, 9 credits minimum)

    A. Marine Ecology & Conservation

    B. Environmental Health

    • CHE 321 Organic Chemistry (see Note 4)
    • ENV 320 Chemistry for Environmental Scientists
    • MAR 301 Environmental Microbiology or MAR 302 Marine Microbial Ecology
    • MAR 308 Environmental Instrument Analysis
    • MAR 336 Marine Pollution
    • MAR 340 Environmental Problems and Solutions
    • MAR 384 Diseases of Aquatic Organisms
    • MAR 392 Waste Management Issues
    • MAR 393 Waste Treatment Technologies
    • MAR 394 Environmental Toxicology and Public Health
    • MAR 487 Research or MAR 488 Internship (maximum of three credits for the major)

    C. Coastal Processes

    • ENV 316 Coastal Zone Management
    • GSS 325 GIS Design & Applications II
    • GSS 354 Geospatial Science for the Coastal Zone
    • MAR 304 Waves, Tides and Beaches
    • MAR 333 Coastal Oceanography
    • MAR 334 Remote Sensing of the Environment
    • MAR 487 Research or MAR 488 Internship (maximum of three credits for the major)

    Other courses may be substituted with department approval.

    1. Upper-Division Writing Requirement

    The advanced writing component of the major in ​MAR requires registration in, and satisfactory completion of, the 0-credit MAR 459 (S/U grading) along with enrollment in an approved advanced course that entails writing of either a term paper or a laboratory report.  Completion of MAR 459 with a grade of S will also result in fulfillment of the WRTD requirement.  A list of preapproved courses can be found at .

    1. CHE 129/130 may be substituted for CHE 131. CHE 152 may be substituted for CHE 131+132
    2.  MAT 131, MAT 132 or MAT 141, MAT 142 or MAT 171 may be substituted for MAT 125, MAT 126
    3. The first semester of any calculus-based Physics with lab can be substituted, such as PHY 131/PHY 133 or PHY 141 or PHY 142.
    4. CHE 331 may be substituted for CHE 321.

    Honors Program in Marine Sciences

    Graduation with departmental honors in Marine Sciences requires the following:
    1. Students are eligible to participate in the Honors Program if they have a 3.50 GPA in all courses for the major by the end of the junior year. Students should apply to the SoMAS undergraduate director for permission to participate.
    2. Students must prepare an honors thesis based on a research project written in the form of a paper for a scientific journal. A student interested in becoming a candidate for honors should submit an outline of the proposed thesis research project to the SoMAS undergraduate director as early as possible, but no later than the second week of classes in the last semester. The student will be given an oral examination in May on his or her research by his or her research supervisor and the undergraduate research committee. The awarding of honors requires the recommendation of this committee and recognizes superior performance in research and scholarly endeavors. The written thesis must be submitted before the end of the semester in which the student is graduating.
    3. If the student maintains a GPA of 3.5 in all courses in their major through senior year and receives a recommendation by the undergraduate research committee, he or she will receive departmental honors.

    Bachelor of Science Degree in Marine Science/Master of Science Degree in Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

    Students interested in this program, intended to prepare students for professional employment or graduate school in the field of marine sciences, may apply for admission at the end of the junior year. Students in this combined B.S./M.S. program may complete both degrees in 10 semesters plus two summers (although the exact timing will depend on the student’s progress on the research thesis). Entry in the combined B.S./M.S. program is contingent upon a student identifying a thesis advisor, so students should seek out research experience in the laboratories of prospective advisor prior to the end of their junior year. During the fourth year, students take a mixture of undergraduate and graduate courses (6-12 credits). After the 8th semester (during the summer), students begin M.S. level research. During the fifth year, students complete the remaining graduate requirements for the M.S., likely needing  the following summer to complete the research project. The two to four 500-level MAR courses taken during the senior year may be counted toward required or elective requirements of the undergraduate Marine Science major. Please visit the SoMAS website for further information on the Marine Sciences programs.

    Requirements for the Minor in Marine Sciences (MAR)

    Intended primarily for science majors, the minor assumes completion of basic courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, or geology. At least 12 credits applied to the minor may not be applied to any major or other minor. No more than one three-credit course may be taken under the Pass/No Credit option. All upper-division courses offered for the minor must be passed with a letter grade of C or higher. Completion of the minor requires 18 credits.

    1. MAR 101 or MAR 104
    2. At least 15 credits from the following:

    Note: No more than three credits each of MAR 487 and MAR 488 may be applied toward this requirement.

  • Sequence

    Sample Course Sequence for the Major in Marine Sciences

    For more information about SBC courses that fulfill major requirements, click here.  


    FALL Credits
    First Year Seminar 101 1
    WRT 101 3
    CHE 131 4
    CHE 133 1
    MAT 125 3
    MAR 104
     Total 15
    SPRING Credits
    First Year Seminar 102 1
    WRT 102
    CHE 132 4
    CHE 134 1
    MAT 126 3
    MAR 105 1
    SBC  3
     Total 16

    FALL Credits
    BIO 201 3
    AMS 201 3
    GEO 102 3
    GEO 112 1
    SBC 3
    SBC 3
     Total 16
    SPRING Credits
    BIO 202 or BIO 203 3
    AMS 102 3
    ENS 119/PHY 119 4
    SBC 3
    SBC 3
     Total 16

    FALL Credits
    MAR 351 3
    GSS 313 3
    GSS 314 1
    MAR Elective 3
    SBC  3
    Elective  3
     Total 16
    SPRING Credits
    MAR 349 4
    MAR 354 3
    MAR elective 3
    Upper-division SBC 3
    MAR 459 0
     Total 13

    FALL Credits
    MAR 352
    MAR 305 or MAR elective  3
    Upper-division SBC  3
    SBC  3
    Elective 3
     Total 15
    SPRING Credits
    ATM 320 3
    Upper-division SBC  3
    Upper-division elective   3 
    Elective  3
    Elective 3
     Total 15


  • Contact

    Marine Sciences (MAR)

    Major and Minor in Marine Sciences

    School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS)

    Director: David Black

    Undergraduate Advisor: Nancy Black

    Office: E2361 Melville Library

    Phone: (631) 632-9404



  • Courses