Aquatic Biology

What is Aquatic Biology?

Biological scientists study living organisms and their relationship to the environment. They perform research to gain a better understanding of fundamental life processes and apply that understanding to developing new products or processes. Research can be broken down into two categories: basic and applied. Basic research is conducted without any intended aim; the goal is simply to expand on human knowledge. Applied research is directed towards solving a particular problem.

At UCSB, the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology provides coursework, laboratory and field experiences in both marine and freshwater sub-disciplines. UCSB is ideally located for the study of fresh and salt water environments and inhabitants. The campus’ outdoor “laboratories” include the Pacific Ocean and four of the University of California’s protected natural land and water reserves. These include the Carpentaria salt marsh, the West Campus sand dunes, Santa Cruz Island in the Santa Barbara channel, and the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range.

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like Aquatic Biology?

Students who show an interest in marine biology, marine and freshwater ecology, population studies of aquatic organisms, biological oceanography, and limnology (the study of fresh waters) find aquatic biology an exciting opportunity to learn about these broad subjects and the special techniques used to study them.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?

Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the undergraduate advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.

Methods in Aquatic Community Ecology
Environmental Processes in Oceans and Lakes         
Chemical and Physical Methods of Aquatic Environments
Ecological Physiology
Methods of Aquatic Biology

General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?

Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be.  The following list provides only a handful of possibilities.  Aquatic Biology majors with strong liberal arts background may pursue career options in many fi elds. Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study options include:

Environmental Biology       
Biological Oceanographer        
Marine Chemist
Environmental Health          
Environmental Consulting        
Oil Exploration
Natural Resources Management
Fisheries Manager
Water Quality Assurance Specialist and Policy
Marine Biologist

To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?

  • Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
  • Choose a complementary minor.
  • Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
  • Develop your computer skills.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Study abroad.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Get involved in student clubs.
  • Participate in community organizations.
  • Seek out leadership positions.
  • Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
  • Network with others in fields that interest you.

Graduate and Professional Schools

Marine Biology Programs
The list of programs is provided by MarineBio, a nonprofit volunteer marine conservation and science education group working together to educate the world about ocean life, marine biology, and marine conservation.
This is a comprehensive website that provides information about where graduate programs are offered throughout the nation.

Click “Graduate School” for information on how to choose a grad school, how to pay for grad school, how to survive and flourish in grad school.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Come to the Career Resources Room to view the CHOICES lab version of graduate schools.

Experience Search Strategies

Monterey Bay Aquarium
Job listings.

Aquatic Network
Jobs listed chronologically.

Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography
The ASLO Positions Offered Board is a tremendous resource and an outstanding advertising value for academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and for-profit businesses with positions to fill.

Conservation Job Board
List of Marine Biology Jobs.

Marine Biology Jobs
Search job sites, company career pages and associations for marine biology jobs.

Association of Zoo’s & Aquariums
Job Listings in Zoo’s & Aquariums.

New Scientist Jobs
All types of biology jobs categorized by field, location, government/private, etc.
Lists biotech jobs, biology teaching jobs and bioscience jobs

Santa Barbara Sea Center
The Sea Center is an engaging, interactive marine education facility that allows visitors to discover the fun in science and the wonders of the natural world.

The REEF is an interactive aquarium designed to provide the visitor with an unparalleled view of our ocean planet. Guided by UCSB students, visitors to the REEF learn, through guided hands-on exploration, about our local marine ecosystems, as well as other important ocean habitats around the world.

UCSB Career Services “Job Links” section
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, International, Industry Specific, UCSB Careers by Majors and Diversity.

When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.

Professional Associations

MarineBio is deeply committed to marine conservation and founded on the concept that, by sharing the wonders of the ocean and marine life, people will be inspired to protect it.

The American Institute of Biological Sciences
The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific association dedicated to advancing biological research and education for the welfare of society.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography 
List of Marine Professional Societies

American Society of Limnology and Oceanography
The purpose of ASLO is to foster a diverse, international scientific community that creates, integrates and communicates knowledge across the full spectrum of aquatic sciences, advances public awareness and education about aquatic resources and research, and promotes scientific stewardship of aquatic resources for the public interest. Its products and activities are directed toward these ends.

American Institute of Biological Sciences
The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific association dedicated to advancing biological research and education for the welfare of society

UCSB Resources