Jan 24, 2022  
2018-2019 University Catalog 
2018-2019 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Marine Biology, B.S.

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Biology and Marine Biology majors investigate the interconnected processes that shape the living world. The Department of Biology and Marine Biology is housed in the Marine and Natural Sciences building, offering modern teaching and research laboratories, a spacious wet-lab with running seawater, several greenhouses and state-of-the-art instrumentation for cell and molecular biology. The Department offers the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees in biology and marine biology. Minors are also offered in biology, marine biology and aquaculture and aquarium science. The Department has a very active program for undergraduate research, and students are encouraged to join an ongoing project as early as their first year.

Marine Biology

Marine Biology majors explore the unique challenges faced by organisms living in the marine environment and the methods by which they meet these challenges. Additionally, students in the major learn to apply this knowledge to confront current issues in marine science such as fisheries and resource management, aquaculture, and marine conservation. Students begin the program by obtaining a broad understanding of marine biology and oceanographic principles, and through subsequent lectures, laboratories, and field work, build on this knowledge for a more complete appreciation of the aquatic world. The department also fosters undergraduate research programs in such fields as biological oceanography, coastal and wetland studies, marine environmental physiology, and marine biotechnology and aquaculture in order to enhance the educational experience provided to undergraduates. Upon completion of the degree, students are prepared to specialize at the graduate level in the oceanographic sciences or other environmental disciplines.

Students may also elect to undertake a SEA Semester through the SEA Education Association (SEA) of Woods Hole, Massachusetts or a semester in Bermuda at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS).

Program Requirements

Students who declare biology and marine biology must achieve a minimum average grade of C- for BIO 103  and BIO 104  in order to advance in these majors. This minimum average grade is a prerequisite for all biology and marine biology courses at the 200-level or above. In order to be considered a candidate for a B.A. or B.S. in biology or marine biology, students must achieve a minimum grade point average of 2.00 (C) averaged over all required courses in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics.

Required Courses

The Marine Biology Major

Marine Biology majors can receive either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. Marine Biology majors must satisfy all University Core Curriculum requirements and the College speech requirement, COMM 210 . A Critical Writing course at the 200-level or above is a prerequisite to advanced courses and should be completed prior to the junior year. In addition, Marine Biology majors must successfully complete the following courses and sufficient electives to total 120 credits. Majors are encouraged to apply electives toward a minor or second major. Marine Biology majors may apply a maximum of two (2) courses from the major requirements towards a minor in Environmental Science, or a maximum of two (2) upper-level Marine Biology electives towards the elective requirements for the major in Environmental Science.


*Note that students who complete BIO 333  may use the course to satisfy the above requirement or they may count the course as a BIO elective, but the course may not count for both.

Students completing the Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Marine Biology must also complete a minimum of 21 (B.S.) or 28 (B.A.) additional credits from among the following courses. Students must take at least one course from either the Applied or the Molecular Category

Students Must

Take at least one course from either the Applied or the Molecular Category.

The SEA Semester Option

Prerequisite for majors: Satisfactory completion of the writing and mathematics requirements and the five-course Interdisciplinary Core; a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above; and permission from the program faculty.

Prerequisite for Core Concentration: Students who are not majoring in science or mathematics may use the SEA Semester to fulfill the Core Concentration requirement provided the following prerequisites are met before the SEA Semester: satisfactory completion of the writing, mathematics, and the five-course Interdisciplinary Core; a GPA of 2.5; and permission of the program faculty.

Students in good academic standing who meet the prerequisites may apply to attend a SEA Semester through the Sea Education Association (SEA) of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This exciting and challenging off-campus program combines onshore classes, labs, and field work, in ocean sciences and maritime studies with an offshore sailing and research experience. Students attending a SEA Semester enroll in the following courses:

  • BIO 411 - Applied Oceanography
  • BIO 412 - Nautical Science
  • BIO 414 - Maritime Studies
  • BIO 416 - Marine Technology
  • BIO 418 - Practical Oceanographic Research


Marine biology majors who successfully complete a SEA semester receive eight (8) credits towards the Applied elective category.

This program is academically affiliated; however, certain restrictions exist for the transfer of institutional aid. Please consult the Spiegel Center for details.

Semester Program at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS)

Prerequisite for majors: Satisfactory completion of the University Core Curriculum requirements and the five-course Interdisciplinary Courses.

This semester-long course of study examines the natural processes and human interventions found in the Gulf Stream, the Sargasso Sea, and the coral archipelago, Bermuda. Students are introduced to the interactions that determine the distribution and abundance patterns of tropical marine organisms, with emphasis on the ecology of near-shore areas. Basic principles of ecology are integrated with an understanding of the sea as a habitat for life. Major groups of dominant marine organisms of the region are examined in the field. Major near-shore marine habitats are examined, along with their associated biotic communities. Coral reef ecosystems are emphasized to illustrate basic concepts. Students conduct a major research project. Fall

Students enroll in the following courses:

  • BIO 361 - Coral Reef Ecology
  • BIO 336 - Tropical Marine Invertebrate Zoology
  • BIO 410 - Research Diving Methods
  • BIO 410 - Marine Biology Research


For marine biology majors participating in the Bermuda semester, BIO 361 replaces BIO 320  (Organismal and Ecology category)and BIO 336 replaces BIO 335  (Organismal and Ecology category). In addition, students receive 3 elective credits towards the Applied category.

Additional Marine Bio Electives

Marine Biology Internship at the New England Aquarium (NEAq)

Prerequisites: Satisfactory completion of the writing and mathematics requirements and the five course interdisciplinary CORE; a cumulative GPA of 2.8 or above; recommendation from a RWU Faculty member; and acceptance by the program faculty at the New England Aquarium (NEAq).

This semester-long course of study provides a rigorous introduction to the research and educational opportunities provided by a major public aquarium. The internship will consist of an active research component in a laboratory setting under the direction of an NEAq research scientist, an animal husbandry experience with responsibilities that may include feeding animals, cleaning tanks and equipment, and providing treatment for diseased animals, and the successful completion of a dedicated course of research under the direction of an RWU biology faculty member. Students enroll in the following courses:

Minor Note

Biology may not serve as a minor for a Marine Biology major.

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