Biology Department photograph montage

Marine Biology

goby samplingCoordinator:
Dr. Karen Crow

The M.S. in Biology with a concentration in Marine Biology is designed to offer students a broad exposure to the major marine groups and nearshore habitats and experience with the research methodologies to study them. The faculty offer course work and active research programs in the ecology, evolution, and ecological physiology of marine organisms, the systematics and ecological genetics of marine organisms, the ecology and behavior of marine mammals, the biology of the algae and salt marsh flora, and estuarine ecology. The program takes advantage of the unique environmental setting of the San Francisco Bay area. The Bay offers a vast urban-estuarine habitat for study, and the outer coastal areas, within reasonable driving range, offer sandy beaches, rocky intertidal reefs, kelp forests, man-made bays, and estuarine and salt marsh habitats.

The College of Science and Engineering operates the Paul F. Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies on San Francisco Bay. This research station includes a 30,000 square foot laboratory and office complex, vessels for bay research, and facilities for the culture and maintenance of marine plants and animals. Resident scientists are conducting research in estuarine ecology, physiology, population and evolutionary biology, marine microbiology, and wetland restoration and ecology.

Students completing the marine biology program have been successful in obtaining marine-oriented positions with state and federal agencies and private environmental consulting firms. Many of our graduates enter the teaching profession, while about one quarter continue on to competitive Ph.D. programs in the marine sciences.

Upper division course prerequisites (17-25 units), in addition to core prerequisites, include:

  • An upper division course in organismal physiology with laboratory
  • An upper division course in ecology
  • Electives that indicate preparation for graduate study in marine biology

(Suitable upper division electives include selections of courses in cell biology and/or microbiology, additional statistics or calculus, limnology, oceanography, ichthyology, marine invertebrate zoology, estuarine and wetland ecology, and evolution.)


Katharyn Boyer, Edward Carpenter, Sarah Cohen, Karen Crow-Sanchez, Jonathon Stillman, Anne Todgham

Affiliate Faculty:
— Romberg Tiburon Center Research Faculty:
William CochlanRichard DugdaleWim Kimmerer, Frances Wilkerson.

— Cal Academy Research Faculty:
Pim Bongaerts, Alison Gould, Terry Gosliner, Rebecca Johnson, Durrell Kapan, John McCosker, Richard Mooi, Luiz Rocha, Peter Roopnarine, Bart Shepherd, Gary Williams.


The Moss Landing Marine Lab offers a M.S. in Marine Science. This is not the same as either the M.S. in Biology, Concentration in Marine Biology offered by the Biology Department at the San Francisco State campus.


Biology Graduate Programs: