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 at 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. It also may prepare students for graduate studies in a range of fields, inlcuding environmental science and policy, marine biology, and oceanography.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate understanding of fundamental concepts in marine science, including principles of geological, physical, chemical, and biological processes in the marine environment
  • Demonstrate understanding of common laboratory, field, and modeling methods used in marine science
  • Demonstrate the ability to i) formulate a falsifiable hypothesis, ii) design an experiment or observational study to test your hypothesis, iii) analyze your results in a statistically rigorous way, and iv) draw logical conclusions based on your analysis
  • Communicate effectively the concepts, methods, results and conclusions of marine science research, in oral and written form, to specialists and the general public
  • Apply knowledge and skills learned to solve problems in marine geology, physics, chemistry, or biology
  • Demonstrate understanding of how human activities impact the marine environment, and how the marine environment impacts human activities


All students are required to take ES 144 Oceanography, three “marine breadth” courses, and the Marine Semester, during which students choose four courses from a dozen diverse offerings. Additionally, the major provides a strong foundation in science and math through eight required courses in biology, chemistry, calculus, physics, and statistics.

A grade of C or higher is required in all courses to receive credit in the major. All required courses are 4 credit hours.

Core Introductory Course (1)

  • EE 144 Oceanography

Related Courses (7-8 total)

Biology (2)

  • BI 107 Biology I and BI 108 Biology II

Chemistry (2)

  • CH 101 General Chemistry I and CH 102 General Chemistry II, or
  • CH 109 General & Quantitative Analytical Chemistry I and CH 110 General & Quantitative Analytical Chemistry II, or
  • CH 111 Intensive General & Quantitative Analytical Chemistry I and CH 112 Intensive General & Quantitative Analytical Chemistry II, or
  • CH 171 Principles of General Chemistry and CH 172 Principles of Organic & Biochemistry

Calculus (1-2)

  • MA 123 Calculus I and MA 124 Calculus II, or
  • MA 127 Enriched Calculus, or
  • MA 129 Honors Calculus

Physics (1)

  • PY 211 General Physics

Statistics (1)

  • MA 213 Basic Statistics & Probability

Marine Breadth Courses (3 total)

Students must complete three of the following:

  • BI 260 Marine Biology
  • EE 331 Sedimentology or ES 447 Marine Geology
  • EE/BI 423 Marine Biogeochemistry
  • EE 507 Dynamical Oceanography

Marine Semester Courses (4 total)

The Marine Semester is held every fall. Students are required to select one course during each of four “blocks,” also known as short courses. Each comprises 18–20 class days.

Marine Semester courses include:

  • BI 531 Ichthyology: Behavior, Ecology, & Evolution of Fish
  • BI 546 Marine Megafaunal Ecology: Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary & Surrounding Waters
  • BI 550 Marine Genomics
  • BI 569 Tropical Marine Invertebrates (includes fieldwork in Belize)
  • EE/BI 539 Coral Reef Dynamics: Shallow Waters, Deep Time (includes fieldwork in Belize)
  • EE 543 Estuaries & Nearshore Systems
  • EE 557 Oceanography of Stellwagen Bank & Surrounding Waters
  • EE/BI 523 Marine Urban Ecology
  • EE/BI 578 Marine Geographic Information Science
  • MR 533 Scientific Diving & Underwater Research Methods

Marine Semester course offerings may vary from year to year. Contact BUMP for the latest offerings. In lieu of one of the four Marine Semester block courses, students may enroll in four 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 Marine Program Director Peter Buston.

Undergraduate Research Options

BUMP strongly encourages hands-on research at the undergraduate level and offers students opportunities to spend time in a marine field environment or laboratory setting. A maximum of 12 research credits may be counted as elective courses.


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

Juniors and seniors:

  • MR 391, 392
  • 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), which culminates in the production of a written thesis and an oral 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 by Marine Program Director Peter Buston.