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. 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 (e.g., environmental science and policy, marine biology, oceanography, etc.).

The Marine Science Major: Overview

The Marine Science major provides a strong foundation in science and math via eight required related courses in biology, chemistry, calculus, physics, and statistics. Additionally, all students are required to take Oceanography (CAS ES 144), three “marine breadth” courses, and the Marine Semester. During the Marine Semester, students choose four courses from 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 required courses are 4 credit hours.

Course Requirements for the Major

Related Courses (8 total)


  • 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 Courses (3 total)

Students must complete one course from three of the following marine science areas:

Marine Biology

  • CAS BI 260

Marine Chemistry

  • CAS ES/BI 423

Marine Geology

  • CAS ES 331
  • CAS ES 440

Physical Oceanography

  • CAS GE/ES 507

Marine Semester Courses (4 total)

The Marine Semester is held every Fall Semester. Students are required to select one course during each of four “blocks.” Each block comprises 18–20 class days.

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 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 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.

Note: In lieu of one of the four Marine Semester block courses, students may enroll in 4 credits of Research for Credit. Research for Credit during the Marine Semester must be pre-arranged with a Marine Science faculty member and approved by the Marine Program Director.

Undergraduate Research Options

The BU Marine Program 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. A maximum of 12 research credits may be counted as elective courses.


  • CAS MR 291/292 (2 credits per semester; does not count toward the major)

Juniors and seniors:

  • 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 Research for Credit (CAS MR 401/402) culminating in the production of a written thesis and an oral thesis defense before a committee of three Marine Program 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 Marine Program Director.