Study, analyze, research: that’s what we do.

A marine biology option is for the student who is preparing to do graduate work in this area or seek full-time employment in national and state conservation and resource management agencies, park services, environmental consulting agencies, and zoological parks, among others. This option includes course work to be taken at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) or another comparable institution.

What You'll Do

The curriculum includes rigorous coursework in marine biology, marine ecology, invertebrate zoology and animal biology. Core courses will prepare you for any area of biology.

  • Take at least one course at a marine laboratory such as the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.
  • Immerse yourself in additional coursework in oceanography, physics, organic chemistry and calculus.
  • Learn at the Miller Reserve Wetlands Restoration project, the Kelso Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Reis Biological Research Station.
  • Receive guidance through the Biomedical Scholars Advising Program. Your advisor will meet with you every semester to help as you progress toward professional school.

What Can You Do with a Marine Biology Degree?

A marine biology degree in the Midwest? It does get attention. Southeast pairs its solid science reputation with unique learning opportunities at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory to ensure students are prepared for the career they dream of. And, our students have gotten the internships to prove it, including:

  • Missouri Department of Conservation 
  • St. Louis Zoo 
  • Sea World 
  • Whale Shark and Oceanic Research Center 
  • Coastal Marine Education Research Academy 

Students also get the benefit of peer support from the Biology Club. Our faculty mentors provide guidance and research options as well as advising marine biology students in additional courses in plant biology or microbiology, aquatic ecology, management of wildlife populations, ichthyology, and conservation biology so their experience matches their career goals.

Graduate School and Employment Opportunities of Recent Graduates

  • Southeast Missouri State University
  • University of Southern Mississippi
  • University of Puerto Rico
  • Miami Seaquarium

Career Opportunities for Graduates

  • Aquarium Technician
  • Biological Oceanographer
  • Conservation Agent
  • Field Technician
  • Laboratory Assistant
  • Marine Biologist
  • Marine Fisheries Biologist
  • Marine Mammal Trainer
  • Park Service Naturalist

Marine Biology (BS) Degree Map

Explore the courses you'll need to complete your degree.

Outcomes & Careers

  • $67k

    Wildlife Biologist

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for zoologists and wildlife biologists is $67,430.

  • $69k

    Conservation Scientist

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for a conservation scientist is $69,810.

  • $69k

    Animal Scientist

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for an animal scientist is $69,390.

What You'll Study

Degree Map

The marine biology curriculum includes coursework to prepare you for career paths in research, education, and public policy. You’ll complete a minimum of 120 credit hours to complete this degree, including the general education requirements and at least 39 senior division hours.

“Critical Courses” are italicized and bolded. Data shows that students who have completed this course in the first two years and have earned the noted grade are most likely to complete this program of study.

Required Courses:

  • BI163 Evolution & Ecology (4)
  • BI173 Cell & Organismal Biology (4)
  • BI283 Genetics (4)
  • BI389 Career Development in Biology (2)
  • CH184 General Chemistry I Lab (1)
  • CH185 General Chemistry I (3)
Choose one math course:
  • MA116 Precalculus A (3)
  • MA137 Precalculus (5)
  • MA139 Applied Calculus (3)
  • MA140 Analytical Geometry & Calculus I (5)
Choose one additional math course:
  • MAxxx Additional math (for which MA116 is a prerequisite) (3)
  • MA155 Statistical Reasoning (3)
Experiential Learning Requirement: 2 hours
  • BI551-553 Biology Field Studies (2)
  • BI563-565 Experience in Museum Curation (1-3)
  • BI570 Development of Instructional Materials (1)
  • BI582 Internship in Biology (1-3)
Marine Biology Option Required Courses:
  • BI332 General Ecology (3)
  • BI348 Marine Biology (3)
  • BI434 Marine Ecology & Conservation (3)
  • ZO310 Zoology (4)
  • ZO430 Invertebrate Zoology (4)
Biology Electives*: 5 hours
  • BI/BO/BT/ZOxxx 300 level or above (5)

*A minimum of 3 hours must be taken from the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory or comparable institution or the equivalents listed below:

Non-Biology Requirements:
  • CH186 General Chemistry II (3)
  • CH187 General Chemistry II Lab (1)
  • CH341 Foundations of Organic Chemistry (4)
  • CH342 Organic Chemistry Lab I (1)
  • GO320 Oceanography (3)
  • PH106 Physical Concepts (3)
  • PH107 Physical Concepts Lab (1)

Some requirements may be fulfilled by coursework in major program.
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences – 6 hours
  • Constitution Requirement – 3 hours
  • Written Communication – 6 hours
  • Oral Communication – 3 hours
  • Natural Sciences – 7 hours (from two disciplines, one to include a lab)
  • Mathematics – 3 hours
  • Humanities & Fine Arts – 9 hours (from at least two disciplines)
  • Additional requirements – 5 hours (to include UI100 for native students)
  • Civics examination

Freshman Year    

Fall Semester (15-17 Hours)     
  • UI100 (1) 
  • BI163 (4) 
  • CH184/185 (4) 
  • MA116/137/139/140 (3-5) 
  • General Education (3) 
Spring Semester (14 Hours)     
  • BI173 (4)
  • CH186 (3) 
  • CH187 (1) 
  • EN100 (3) 
  • Additional Math (3) 

Milestone: achieve a target cumulative GPA of 3.0

Sophomore Year    

Fall Semester (15 Hours)  
  • BI283 (4) 
  • CH341 (4) 
  • CH342 (1) 
  • General Education (3) 
  • General Education (3) 
Spring Semester (17 Hours)    
  • BI348 (3) 
  • ZO310 (4) 
  • PH106/107 (3)
  • General Education (3) 
  • General Education (3) 

Milestone: achieve a target cumulative GPA of 3.0

Junior Year    

Fall Semester (14 Hours)  
  • BI332 (3) 
  • BI389 (2) 
  • GO320 (3) 
  • General Education (3) 
  • Elective (3) 
Spring Semester (15 Hours)    
  • BI434 (3) 
  • BI/BO/ZO Elective (3) 
  • General Education (3) 
  • Elective (3) 
  • Elective (3) 

Milestone: achieve a target cumulative GPA of 3.0

Summer Term (3-6 Hours)
  • Biology Elective from marine station (3-6)

Senior Year    

Fall Semester (15 Hours)     
  • Experiential Learning Course (2) 
  • General Education (3) 
  • General Education (3) 
  • Elective (3) 
  • Elective (3) 
Spring Semester (13 Hours)  
  • ZO430 (4)
  • Elective (3)
  • Elective (3)
  • Elective (3)

Milestone: achieve a target cumulative GPA of 3.0

A “Milestone” signifies a significant stage for a student in the completion of a degree.

Become a Redhawk.

Do more than dream about the future. Take the first steps to make it all happen.

Hands-on Learning

You’ll gain hands-on real-world experience through required 80 hours outside the classroom field experiences and internships.


"The most important thing I gained from this internship is confidence. I did so many things all on my own, and getting to work and live in South Africa alongside beautiful animals and brilliant people was a dream come true. Working with sharks has always been a dream of mine, so I cried when I found out I had been accepted."

Noah Carter

Biology major, Noah McCarter sits on a boat docked in Mossel Bay, South Africa.

Getting the Job

Your education is just one piece to launching an extraordinary career. Once you’ve mastered the material, you still have to find the job you want, make the right connections, sell your knowledge and experience—and if all this is giving you anxiety, don’t panic. SEMO’s Career Services office is here to help you with the next step. They’ll provide the expertise and support you need, so you’re landing your dream job in no time.

Contact Us
Rhodes Hall 224
Mailing Address
One University Plaza, MS 6200
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701