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Is a Marine Biology Major Hard?

As a student studying a general course, there comes a time when you need to pick a major. Are you thinking of picking a marine biology major but are afraid it might be hard? 

A marine biology major is not hard, as long as you are interested and willing to put in the effort required to study and understand the coursework. Additionally, it will even be easier if you have a background in science subjects. 

In this article, you learn more about why a marine biology major is not hard and other related issues such as admission requirements for a marine biology major, skills needed to pursue the course, and where marine biologists work. Let’s get right into it.

How hard is marine biology?

What Is Marine Biology?

Marine biology refers to the study of marine organisms, how they behave and interact with the environment. Marine biology includes several disciplines such as biological oceanography, molecular biology, physical oceanography, and zoology.

Source: Stanford University

In marine biology, different habitats are studied, including those on the water’s surface and those living in great depths in the ocean. The ocean consists of many living organisms, and some of them are yet to be discovered, which explains why this field is vast and involves a lot of research.

Some of the subfields of marine biology include:

  • Fisheries and aquaculture
  • Microbiology
  • Environmental marine biology
  • Deep-sea ecology

Why a Marine Biology Major Is Not That Difficult

Like any other science, marine biology requires a student to put in a lot of effort when studying to excel. There are concepts you need to understand and practicals to carry out. 

If you are thinking of taking a marine biology major since you already have a background in a science-related course, you already have a foundation. In that case, things will not be difficult for you, unlike a person who doesn’t have any background.

However, there are a few things you need to learn to make things easy during the period you’ll be in school. It’s also crucial to look for a good learning institution that offers extensive practical classes. 

If you don’t dedicate enough time to your studies or skip classes, you might find this course very hard. This is because some subjects are more complex, and you might need some explanation from other students through group discussion or your professor during lectures.

Admission Qualifications for the Marine Biology Major

You ought to meet some requirements and protocols to follow when you want to major in marine biology. You need to have studied subjects like biology, mathematics, chemistry, and physics.

Universities and colleges have varying requirements, with some having very flexible entry requirements. You only need to contact the institution you’re interested in to know whether you meet their entry requirements.

There are also things you can do to prepare for your marine biology career when in school, which include:

  • Joining a marine conservation society where you can learn interesting developments in marine biology.
  • Volunteering in places like zoos and aquariums to gain hands-on experience.
  • Learning skills like boat handling and diving.

Skills You Need To Possess To Become a Marine Biologist

Apart from attending classes and studying for exams, you need to develop skills to make things work out easily for you as you study. Even though you don’t have these skills, you can easily learn them through practice.

Let’s take a look at those necessary skills now.

Technological Skills

Knowing how to use some technological devices and software is very crucial for every marine biologist. For example, you need to know how to use a computer as the most basic technological skill. 

There is also special software your professors will introduce to you, and you need to develop an interest and urge to learn how to operate them.

Source: National Marine Aquarium

Observation Skills

As a scientist, observation is one of the most basic skills you need to possess to excel. You need to observe what is happening and why it’s happening. You also need to be keen even on the finest details.

To develop and improve your observation skills, learn how to use all the five senses and improve your memory to remember everything you notice. 

Writing Skills

You need to have excellent writing skills since you must write your observations and research findings. To develop writing skills as a scientist, you first need to understand that academic writing is different from other writing. There are rules and writing styles you need to follow.

Just like any other skill, you have to practice to become a good writer. Reading what others have written is also another way of making yourself a pro writer. 

Source: Marbella International University Centre

Research Skills

Science involves a lot of research, and if you are to excel in it, you need to be a good researcher. Research forms the basis of everything and was it not for it, there would be no discoveries. 

If you aren’t a good researcher, you can become one by utilizing resources such as libraries, textbooks, websites and asking questions from the experts. 

Communication Skills

As a marine biologist, you will need to interact with others while in school and beyond. There are tutors and other students you’ll need to discuss with when attending classes, group discussions when conducting research, and also carrying out practicals. 

Communication can be done orally or written, and you need to practice both. Proper communication helps you form and improve personal and professional relationships. 

However, don’t only focus on learning how to express your intent but also on listening to others.

Careers For Marine Biologists

Marine biologists mostly work in research institutes, private companies, universities and colleges, and government agencies. 

Examples include:

  • Water pollution control companies
  • Engineering companies
  • Marine research laboratories
  • Aquarium and museums
  • Environmental research bodies
  • Marine conservation consultancies
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Energy, gas, and oil exploration companies

Some of the issues and problems marine biologists investigate include:

  • Overfishing leading to the reduction of some fish species.
  • Plastic pollution resulting in tonnes of plastics getting into the ocean interfering with the ecosystem.
  • Oil spills causing great havoc on local ecosystems.
  • The use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides that have caused significant consequences on food chains.
  • The release of effluents from industries alters the ecological balance in the oceans.
  • Increase in water-borne diseases due to increased pollution.

Source: Institute Of Marine Engineering, Science, & Technology


Although a marine biology major might be a complex course, it is still possible to excel in college. You only need to put in the effort to learn and carry out practicals. You also need to acquire other skills such as writing and communication to make things easy for you during your studies and when you start working.

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