BA in Marine Science

The BA in Marine Science, offered through the BU Marine Program (BUMP), provides a rigorous, interdisciplinary education in marine science, with courses in biological, chemical, geological, and physical oceanography as well as marine policy. All Marine Science majors complete the Marine Semester, an intellectually and physically challenging sequence of four month-long, research-based courses. During the Marine Semester, students conduct research in a variety of New England locations as well as the Belizean Barrier Reef, working with BU faculty and scientists from the New England Aquarium, NOAA, and the University of Belize. The BA in Marine Science prepares graduates for marine-related positions in commercial, educational, governmental, and non-profit organizations and for admission to graduate school in a range of fields, from marine biology, to chemical and physical oceanography, environmental science and policy.

Each marine science major will be assigned a permanent advisor through the program manager of BUMP. This advisor will meet with the student at least once a semester to help set up and implement a program of study.


The Marine Science major provides a strong foundation in science and math via eight required related courses in chemistry (2), biology (2), physics (1), calculus (2) and statistics (1). All students take Introductory Oceanography (CAS ES 144), three “marine breadth” courses, and the Marine Semester. For the Marine Semester, students choose four courses from among approximately 12 diverse course offerings. A grade of C or higher is required in all of the aforementioned courses to receive credit in the major. All courses are 4 credit hours.

Course Requirements

Required Related Courses (8)


CAS BI 107 and BI 108


CAS CH 101 and CH 102, or

CAS CH 109 and CH 110, or

CAS CH 111 and CH 112, or

CAS CH 171 and CH 172 or CH 174

Calculus (one year)

CAS MA 123 and MA 124, or

CAS MA 127, or

CAS MA 129


CAS PY 211


CAS MA 213

Core Introductory Course (1)

CAS ES 144 (MP or MR section with discussion)

Marine Breadth Requirement Courses (3)

Students must complete one course from three of the four marine science areas.

Marine Biology

CAS BI 260

Marine Chemistry


Marine Geology

CAS ES 331, or

CAS ES 440

Physical Oceanography


Marine Semester Courses (4)

The Marine Semester is held annually in the Fall Semester. Students select one course during each of four “blocks.” Each block comprises 18–20 class days, with several hours of scheduled activities per day (e.g., lecture, discussion, laboratory research, field research). Successful completion of at least one four-course Marine Semester is required of all Marine Science majors. If a student’s schedule permits, participation in additional Marine Semesters is encouraged. Students seeking admission to the Marine Semester must have completed at least one of the four “marine breadth” courses. Marine Semester courses currently include:

CAS BI/GE 523 Marine Urban Ecology

CAS BI 531 Ichthyology: Behavior, Ecology, and Evolution of Fish

CAS BI/ES 539 Coral Reef Dynamics: Shallow Waters, Deep Time (with fieldwork in Belize)

CAS BI 546 Marine Megafaunal Ecology: Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Surrounding Waters

CAS BI 550 Marine Genomics

CAS BI 563 Sensory Biology of Aquatic Animals

CAS BI 569 Tropical Marine Invertebrates (with fieldwork in Belize)

CAS BI/GE 578 Marine Geographic Information Science

CAS ES 543 Estuaries and Nearshore Systems

CAS ES 557 Oceanography of Stellwagen Bank and Surrounding Waters

CAS MR 510 Marine Science Policy, Resource Management, and Public Debate

CAS MR 533 Scientific Diving and Underwater Research Methods

Marine Semester course offerings may vary from year to year. Contact the BUMP office for the latest offerings. In lieu of one of the four Marine Semester block courses, students may enroll in four credits of Directed Study (in Marine Science [CAS MR 491], Biology [CAS BI 491], Earth Science [CAS ES 491] or Earth & Environment [CAS GE 491]). Directed study during the Marine Semester must be pre-arranged with a BUMP faculty member and approved by the Director of BUMP.

Undergraduate Research Options

BUMP strongly encourages hands-on research at the undergraduate level and offers each student the opportunity to spend time in a marine field environment or laboratory setting.

CAS MR 291/292 may be taken for elective credit by sophomores. These courses may only be taken for 2 credits per semester and do not count toward the major.

Juniors and seniors may receive credit for their research. A maximum of 12 credits may be counted as elective courses:

CAS MR 391, 392 or

CAS MR 491, 492

Honors in the Major

Qualified seniors can earn “Honors in the Major” by completing a two-semester, two-course sequence of independent study (CAS MR 401/402) culminating in (1) the production of a written thesis and (2) an oral thesis defense given before a committee of three BUMP faculty. Registering for MR 401/402 involves preparation of a research proposal developed in consultation with your faculty research advisor, and approval of the proposal by the Director of BUMP. Contact the Program Manager for an application.


Marine Science Association (MSA)

Marine Science majors and other students interested in the ocean realm are welcome to participate in this active student group, which sponsors marine science-related activities, including lectures, field trips, and social events. For further information, email MSA at or visit the Marine Science Association webpage.