Master of Science in Marine Biology

Dive into marine sciences at the College of Charleston

Our dynamic hub of excellence offers a research-oriented journey that propels your career in marine biology. Explore groundbreaking research. Collaborate with esteemed institutions. Get ready to embark on a journey of discovery!

At the heart of our program lies a commitment to research-oriented education. You'll engage in groundbreaking research throughout your academic journey. Your time will culminate in a thesis project that delves deep into your chosen marine biology specialization. Located at the Grice Marine Laboratory within the Fort Johnson Marine Science Center on James Island, you'll collaborate with over 100 dedicated marine scientists in a coastal setting perfect for studying marine ecosystems.

Our program's curriculum is meticulously designed with diverse faculty interests and top-notch facilities. You will gain a comprehensive understanding of marine biology. Here, research isn't just a requirement, it's a passion. Our students actively contribute to the scientific community by sharing their findings at local, state and national meetings, often as co-authors alongside our esteemed faculty.

Why Earn Your M.S. in Marine Biology at the College of Charleston?

Research Excellence
Immerse yourself in groundbreaking research, supported by a diverse group of over 100 marine scientists.

Location Advantage
Study and explore various marine ecosystems in the coastal setting of South Carolina.

Publishing Opportunities
Contribute to scientific publications and share your discoveries with the world.

Key Partnerships
Our program collaborates with esteemed institutions. You will have access to diverse faculty expertise and invaluable resources. Our partners include the following organizations:

  • Marine Resources Research Institute of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR)
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • NOAA's Charleston Laboratory
  • Medical University of South Carolina
  • Hollings Marine Laboratory
  • The Citadel 

Concentration Areas

You may concentrate in any of the following areas.
  • Physiology and Cell Biology

    A central focus of our research is the intricate ways in which organisms adapt to their immediate environments. Our faculty explores topics such as temperature, salinity and the impact of low dissolved oxygen on various marine organisms, including crustaceans, mollusks, bony fishes, sharks and rays. Research encompasses everything from whole-organism responses to salinity-induced hormonal stimulation to immune system reactions to environmental stress. The emphasis on reproductive physiology further connects physiology and cell biology to broader marine biology domains.

  • Ecology

    Our program boasts a wealth of faculty and graduate students actively engaged in marine ecology research, including the following areas:

    • Oceanography
    • Benthic ecology
    • Community ecology
    • Fisheries and plankton ecology
    • Invertebrate zoology
    • Microbiology
    • Trophic interactions
    • GIS
    • Marine conservation ecology

    Our current research is marked by its focus on restoration ecology, stock recruitment relationships, predator-prey dynamics, nekton utilization of tidal creek habitats and much more. The diversity of research interests ensures ample opportunities for students to explore their ecological passions.

  • Population Biology

    A fundamental of this concentration is understanding the distribution, abundance and evolutionary history of marine organisms. Faculty members explore genetic variation, life history parameters and recruitment patterns to gain insights into population dynamics. Research spans various marine organisms and habitats, including infaunal invertebrate distributions, genetic diversity in deep-sea corals, coastal dolphins, commercially important fish and life history analyses of reef fishes, sea turtles and ospreys.

  • Toxicology

    Our interdisciplinary research in toxicology focuses on identifying and understanding the impact of contaminants, whether anthropogenic or natural, on marine and estuarine ecosystems. We explore a range of effects, from mortality to bioaccumulation, using diverse organisms and study designs. Our work extends to understanding the fate and transformation of chemicals in the environment, biomarker development, toxicity mechanisms and ecological risk assessment.

  • Marine Genomics

    In this cutting-edge field, we explore genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics and bioinformatics to unravel the molecular-level responses of organisms to environmental stress. Our projects, led by GPMB faculty, focus on marine organisms such as oysters, shrimp, dolphins, whales and corals, ultimately aiming to enhance South Carolina's living marine resources.

Careers & Outcomes

Upon completing our program, you'll be prepared for a wide range of career pathways.
  • Marine Biologist
  • Environmental Specialist
  • Wildlife Biologist
  • Research Specialist
  • Research Biologist
  • Professor of Marine Science or Biology
  • Director/Manager in various roles
Our graduates go on to make an impact at innovative organizations, universities and industries:
  • NOAA
  • EarthEcho International
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Charles River Laboratories
  • NIST
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Coastal Carolina University
  • Bowdoin College
  • The University of Illinois at Chicago

Join us at the College of Charleston's Marine Biology Program and embark on a journey of scientific discovery in the world of marine biology. Your passion meets boundless opportunities here.

“That’s why I was interested in CofC because it has a great faculty list that offers a broad array of research topics you can do. Being able to explore my options and research path is why I decided to come to graduate school at CofC.” - Annabelle Tierney ‘23 

How to Apply

The entire application process is online. The documents outlined below are required components of the application. A file is not complete until all documents have been submitted and processed, so read carefully and prepare your application materials in advance of applying.
  • Dates & Deadlines


    • Priority: January 15
    • Final: July 1 


    • Priority: November 1
    • Final: December 1 
  • Admission Materials & Criteria

    • Official transcripts from all academic institutions
    • Official GRE scores
    • TOEFL scores if your primary language is not English
    • A personal statement/statement of goals
    • Résumé
    • Three letters of recommendation
    • Twenty semester hours of upper-division biological courses, including a course in cellular or molecular biology (or the equivalent) and a course in ecology (or the equivalent)
    • Chemistry - at least one upper-level course beyond general chemistry
    • General physics - two courses
    • Calculus - one course