The M.S. program in Marine Biology and Ecology (MBE) have the following subject emphases, from which each student chooses a relevant curriculum:

  • Coral Reef and Coastal Ecology employs ecological, physiological and molecular approaches to understand, conserve, manage, and restore coral reefs, seagrasses, mangroves and their associated biota.
  • Marine Organismal and Biomedical Science focuses on how marine organisms respond to their environment on physiological and evolutionary time scales. This research integrates whole animal and cellular studies of physiology, biochemistry, neurobiology, genomics, molecular biology, aging, pathology and toxicology to understand factors controlling these responses and to develop these systems as models for human health.
  • Biological Oceanography focuses on adaptations, ecological interactions, food webs, and biogeochemical cycles of the ocean.
  • Fisheries Science studies the direct and indirect impacts of living marine resource exploitation on marine populations, communities and habitats and investigates solutions to the problems of unsustainable, habitat-damaging and/or inefficient fishing, including the minimization of bycatch and food web disruption.

Curriculum Requirements

The MBE M.S. degree requires 30 total credits. 1
Core Courses9
Choose 3 courses from the following:
Biometrics in Marine Science
Tropical Marine Ecology
Biological Oceanography
The Physical Environment of Marine Organisms
Electives 215
Thesis Research 6
Master's Thesis
Additional Requirements
Research Ethics
Comprehensive Examination 3
MBE Seminar 4
Total Credit Hours30

Minimum of 24 course credits and 6 thesis credits.


MBE students are not required to take a course outside the program.

  • The Comprehensive Exam is a written test at the end of the first year designed to evaluate knowledge in the required subjects.
  • The exam consists of 1 question from each of the 3 required classes. The comprehensive questions will each be administered immediately following the final test or other graded classroom component of the course, with one hour allotted for each question. Each comprehensives question will be written and graded by that class professor.  
  • Passing the exam requires 100% Pass (Pass/Fail) on the comprehensive questions.
  • A single retake is possible at the discretion of the student’s committee and the program faculty. A failed Comprehensive Exam with no endorsement to retake the exam will result in immediate dismissal from the MBE graduate program. A failed retake of the Comprehensive Exam will also result in immediate dismissal from the MBE graduate program.
  • Attendance to the MBE seminars is required every semester. 
  • All MBE students must give a talk in the series annually after the first year.