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Bachelor of Science in Biology: Concentration in Marine Biology

The concentration in Marine Biology provides the foundations of chemistry, physics, and mathematics, basic background in the biological sciences, and the opportunity to obtain greater depth of knowledge in marine and aquatic biology. In the marine biology and limnology specialization, students can take courses dealing with aquatic ecology and different aquatic environments, such as lakes and streams, the upper layers of the ocean and estuaries, and benthic environments. They can take courses dealing with particular groups of organisms, including microbes, algae and aquatic plants, invertebrates, fish, and aquatic mammals. Studies of biological processes such as physiology are also included in the curriculum. Students have a great deal of flexibility in deciding among specialty courses they would like to apply as electives in their major. Students are also encouraged to undertake independent studies projects under the direction of faculty members. Because of the flexibility of the major, students are encouraged to see an advisor every semester, and at least at these points in their careers: when they declare their major, when they begin taking upper-division courses, and when they are preparing to graduate.

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

San Francisco State University is a member of a consortium of six California State Universities that jointly operate the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories on Monterey Bay. Moss Landing conducts instructional and research activities on near-shore marine and estuarine environments. Oceangoing research vessels based at Moss Landing also participate in wide-ranging offshore marine research. The Moss Landing curriculum supports a range of programs in marine science. Students matriculating at any of the six participating institutions can take part or all of their graduate work at Moss Landing.

Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies

The Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies (RTC) is a research facility administered by SFSU. RTC is located on 25 acres of bayfront land on the east side of the Tiburon Peninsula, 22 miles from the main campus. The research and educational activities at RTC focus on estuarine and marine environments and include biological oceanography, ecological physiology, marine microbiology, and wetland restoration and ecology. Located on the site are laboratories, classrooms, offices, a greenhouse, an animal culturing and husbandry facility and vessels for bay and costal research. Selected biology, geography, and geology courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level are taught at RTC each academic year.

Bachelor of Science in Biology: Concentration in Marine Biology and Limnology

Lower Division Requirements


BIOL 230

Introductory Biology I


BIOL 240

Introductory Biology II


CHEM 115

General Chemistry I: Essential Concepts of Chemistry


CHEM 130

General Organic Chemistry


Units selected from the following:


CHEM 215/216

General Chemistry II: Quantitative Applications of Chemistry Concepts (3/2)


MATH 226

Calculus I (4)


MATH 227

Calculus II (4)


PHYS 111/112

General Physics I and Laboratory (3/1)


PHYS 121/122

General Physics II and Laboratory (3/1)


Total lower division requirements


Upper Division Requirements (32-33 units)

BIOL 337



BIOL 355



BIOL 458



Units selected from the following:


BIOL 525

Plant Physiology (3)


BIOL 630

Animal Physiology (3)


Units selected from the following


BIOL 534

Wetland Ecology (4)


BIOL 580

Limnology (3)


BIOL 582

Biological Oceanography (3)


BIOL 585/586

Marine Ecology/Laboratory (3/2)


Upper Division Electives


NOTE: Upper division electives should be selected from alternatives not used in fulfilling the requirements listed above, or from the list below. Upon advisement, students may use other upper division biology courses or appropriate courses as electives.


BIOL 450 Biology of the Protozoa (3)


BIOL 451 Protozoology Laboratory (2)


BIOL 502 Biology of the Algae (3)


BIOL 526 Plant Physiology Laboratory


BIOL 532 Restoration Ecology (3)


BIOL 535 Remote Sensing of Wetlands and Coastal Zones (4)


BIOL 555 Marine Invertebrate Zoology (4)


BIOL 556 Natural History of Marine Invertebrates (4)


BIOL 570 Biology of Fishes (4)


BIOL 575 Fisheries Biology (3)


BIOL 583 Marine Microbial Ecology (3)


BIOL 584 Marine Microbial Ecology Laboratory (1)


BIOL 585 Marine Ecology (3)


BIOL 586 Marine Ecology Laboratory (2)


BIOL 606 Behavioral and Physiology of Marine Mammals (3)


BIOL 631 Animal Physiology Laboratory (2)


CHEM 680 Chemical Oceanography (3)


GEOL 452 Coastal Processes (3)


GEOL 642 Watershed Assessment (4)


METR 465 Physical Oceanography (3)


MSCI 310-375 Any without duplicating courses taken at SFSU


Total upper division requirements:


Total for major>


The Marine Biology curriculum provides students with career opportunities in fields where a background in aquatic biology is desirable, such as

  • Federal, state and local civil service:
    • Ranger-naturalist
    • Fisheries management
    • Watershed management
  • Fisheries management and research in the private sector
  • Aquatic pollution monitoring and control
  • Primary and secondary education
  • Aquaculture or mariculture
  • Environmental restoration
  • Aquatic-oriented reportorial and other writing
  • Systematics of marine organisms

Recommended 4-year course plan for B.S. in Biology, Concentration in Marine Biology