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Undergraduate Programs

Three undergraduate students dissecting out a lobster heart for physiological experiments in SMS 304.
Students dissecting out a lobster heart in SMS 304.

Marine sciences comprise a very rich suite of disciplines that treat the marine environment, marine organisms, and their interactions as well as policy choices in ecosystem-based stewardship embedded in marine and coastal spatial planning.  Courses in biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics, and physics form the foundation of an interdisciplinary curriculum that prepares students to analyze critically issues such as environmental change, human impacts on the ocean, and biodiversity as well as to understand fundamental marine processes.  The School offers B.S. degrees in Marine Science.  Students gain knowledge from a mix of formal classes, laboratories and field trips, the Semester-by-the-Sea program, internships, and a variety of independent research opportunities, all under the guidance of a large, diverse, internationally recognized faculty.   We especially showcase the "Integrated Marine Science" series of courses, developed in-house at SMS, that build on each other while they make the basic sciences of biology, chemistry and physics relevant to marine systems.  The undergraduate program culminates in a "capstone" project designed individually as a unique research experience for each student in concert with a designated faculty mentor.

The School of Marine Sciences is an active research organization that yearly brings in about $10 million in research funding.  The faculty members who will be teaching you don't get their science only from books and journal articles.  They write those books and articles.  You can read a textbook on your own.  What you will get here are insights and experience in how new knowledge is created.  Working experience with world-class researchers is exhilarating.

Not sure why you would want an undergraduate degree in marine sciences?  Take a look at the top and bottom of our summary of careers.  We realize that not everyone desires the academic path beyond the undergraduate degree.  A marine sciences degree opens many different doors.

Having trouble deciding among environmental sciences programs at the University of Maine?  Don't agonize.  Instead, choose the one that you think you might like best but be assured that switching between them during the first or even second year is easy by design.  UMaine's environmental sciences programs share first-year and second-year course requirements extensively.  How could you know your passion before trying it?  See related programs for a list, brief descriptions and links.

UMaine maintains a current, searchable database of all course descriptions.  Because it is form driven it cannot be linked directly from the course numbers and titles that you access below, but you may access those descriptions directly from the UMaine online catalog.

 

Marine Science

The B.S. in Marine Science offers excellent preparation for a broad range of careers and a solid foundation for entry into graduate programs.  Students receive an interdisciplinary education in marine sciences and have the option either to specialize in Aquaculture, Marine Biology or Physical Ocean Sciences (oceanography) or to obtain a broad overview.  B.S. students in their junior or senior year are encouraged to participate in the Semester-by-the-Sea program at the Darling Marine Center (below).  Students also conduct independent research projects under the supervision of University faculty as a "capstone" experience.  Students from CT and VT who major in marine sciences at the University of Maine may qualify for reduced tuition through the New England Regional Student Program. The Capstone Experience is required of all UMaine undergraduates. The Capstone in Marine Sciences is individualized research in the laboratory, field, computer or library that culminates with intensive experience in scientific writing.

Marine Sciences B.S. - View required courses, regardless of specialization, in html or printer-friendly pdf.  If you are looking for a general impression, use the html version.  The pdf version has much more detail and is the checklist used by faculty advisors.

 

Areas of Concentration:

Aquaculture - Choose a curriculum format to view, html or printer-friendly pdf.  If you are looking for a general impression, use the html version.  The pdf version has much more detail and is the checklist used by faculty advisors.

The aquaculture track provides training equivalent to a B.S. in Biology, but with a focus on finfish (food fishes and model research species such as zebrafish as well as ornamentals) and shellfish aquaculture, system design and nutrition.  Students majoring in aquaculture learn to apply biological, physical and business management principles to solve problems encountered with the production, processing, marketing, and management of aquatic plants and animals.  They literally get wet in the on-campus ARC (Aquaculture Research Center) that incubates new commercial programs, currently including a very innovative program that breeds tropical reef fishes, thereby beginning to stem their exploitation.  Until global warming goes quite a bit further, tropical fishes won't get away in Maine.  Students from CT, MA, and VT who specialize in Aquaculture at UMaine may be eligible for reduced tuition through the New England Regional Student Program.

Marine Biology - View the curriculum. If you are looking for a general impression, use the html version.  The pdf version has much more detail and is the checklist used by faculty advisors.
The Marine Biology track provides training equivalent to a B.S. in Biology, but with a major focus on marine organisms -- in the context of an overall appreciation and understanding of the chemical, geological, and physical environment of the ocean.

Physical Marine Science - Choose a curriculum format to view, html or printer-friendly pdf.  If you are looking for a general impression, use the html version.  The pdf version has much more detail and is the checklist used by faculty advisors.
The Physical Marine Sciences track provides training in the physical sciences as they relate to processes in the ocean, and it allows students to specialize in a subdiscipline such as marine geology, chemical oceanography or physical oceanography.

Fisheries Minor

The School of Marine Sciences together with the Department of Wildlife Ecology have put together a fisheries minor that can be integrated with any of these majors.  The practical distinction is that students most interested in freshwater fisheries typically come from the Department of Wildlife Ecology, whereas students most interested in marine fisheries come from the School of Marine Sciences.

Semester by the Sea

Semester by the Sea is total immersion in marine science.  Formats vary, but the typical Semester-by-the-Sea (SBS) class engages students for an entire day of the week with multiple, hands-on activities during each week of the 16-week semester.  Students spend that semester in residence at the University of Maine's Darling Marine Center in midcoast Maine.  They explore the organisms, habitats and maritime history of the Gulf of Maine in experiential, field-oriented classes.  The unique marine archaeology class provides unique opportunities to curate artifacts from as early as the colonial period.  SBS students report that this setting is often the first time that they have had extended exposure to individual faculty members and that this experience is extremely valuable in making career decisions, especially about graduate school. SBS is open to juniors and seniors from the University of Maine and qualified students from other undergraduate institutions. Perhaps the best way to see if this program is for you is to visit the description prepared by students and alumni of SBS.  Visit the Darling Marine Center website for more details and an application (due around March 1).  Tired of reading?  View the video.

Areas of Concentration:

Semester by the Sea - View Curriculum 
Semester by the Sea is a residential program offered at the Darling Marine Center in Fall semesters.  Students choose 12 credits from the available courses.  All students get a taste of graduate school in the Undergraduate Seminar.  Biology of Marine Invertebrates, Marine Ecology, and Design of Marine Organisms fulfill requirements for the Marine Biology Major. Maritime History & Archaeology and Human Impacts on the Ocean satisfy University of Maine general education requirements.  Fisheries Biology and Zooplankton Ecology fill other niches.  Design of Marine Organisms offers undergraduates unique opportunities to understand biological fluid dynamics through hands-on activities in flow visualization.  Being in residence with the researchers at the Darling Marine Center also provides ideal opportunities for capstone experiences.  Students who choose to complete their capstone research or conduct independent research at Semester by the Sea should contact a sponsoring faculty member before registering.

Related Programs

Within the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry and Agriculture, you can find a range of environmental sciences.  We hate to see you go, but if they might fit you better, you should explore:

Biochemistry, Microbiology and Molecular Biology—access to the microbial world

Biology and Ecology—terrestrial, freshwater and some marine topics at multiple scales

Earth Sciences—a range of topics on the composition and dynamics of Earth, including its climate system

Ecology and Environmental Sciences—lots of opportunity for specialization or breadth

Forest Resources—forestry, conservation, recreation, to wood science and technology

Plant, Soil and Environmental Sciences—plants, soils and sustainability in natural, horticultural and agricultural contexts

Wildlife Ecology—from basic ecology to management

Marine Science

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