Marine Biology

College of the Environment

Marine Biology involves the study of life processes of organisms inhabiting saltwater environments – from genetics and evolution to physiological traits and ecosystem functioning. The major examines the marine aspects of biodiversity, ecology and ecosystems and organismal processes, along with impacts from ocean change.

Major category: Open

Minor available

Topic: Natural sciences

Applicant type


Freshmen can apply to the UW to begin autumn quarter or winter quarter (U.S. applicants only)

Read more about applying to the UW as a freshman, including details for programs that provide high school students with college credit (like Running Start).


Preparation for the major is a factor in transfer admission. Use the information below to help you prepare for this degree

Department admission information

  • Departmental application deadline: Students in good academic standing may declare the major at any time, including on their application for admission to the UW.
  • Please contact the department for details about the application process.

After notification of admission and before registration, new students should visit or email the Student Services Office at for help in planning their programs.

Recommended courses for first-year students: FISH 250; English composition; calculus; CHEM 120 and OCEAN 295; BIOL 180.

Learn more about Marine Biology on the department website.

Contact a Marine Biology adviser with any questions: or (206) 543-7426

Courses recommended for the major:

  • English Composition
  • BIO 180 NSc – Intro Biology
  • BIO 200 NSc – Intro Biology
  • BIO 220 NSc – Intro Biology
  • MATH 124 NSc RSN – Calculus I
  • CHEM 120 NSc RSN – Principles of Chemistry I1
  • CHEM 220 NSc RSN – Principles of Chemistry II2


1or CHEM 142 NSc RSN – General Chemistry
2or CHEM 152 NSc RSN – General Chemistry

Prospective students can contact the adviser about opportunities to take Marine Biology courses at UW or Friday Harbor Labs before matriculation.

Entering transfer information:

Total undergraduates: 369
Total from Washington community colleges: 23

Entering transfer GPA (from WA community colleges):

3.75 – 4.00: 7
3.50 – 3.74: 4
3.25 – 3.49: 8
3.00 – 3.24: 3
2.75 – 2.99: 1
2.50 – 2.74: 0
2.49 and below: 0

Career outcomes