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Marine Sciences

Bailey College of Science and Mathematics

Marine science is the study of the ocean, including the physics, chemistry, biology and geology, and how those features interact to create the amazing complexity of the sea. Understanding these processes is more important that ever as human impacts increasingly affect the oceans.

San Luis Obispo, California

The bachelor's degree in marine sciences provides a broad foundation with introductory and upper division course work across a range of disciplines in marine sciences. Because the program is so interdisciplinary, the degree is flexible and allows you to tailor your studies to your specific interests. The program provides ample opportunities for you to engage in research under faculty guidance, including impactful independent capstone projects.

Marine Science Curriculum

In addition to lab work in the biological sciences and in chemistry, marine sciences offers labs specific to the major. Examples include:

  • Aquaculture
  • Fisheries Science and Resource Management
  • Ocean Sampling Techniques
  • Marine Botany
  • Marine Conservation and Policy
  • Marine Ecology
  • Marine Mammals, Birds and Reptiles


About the Program

Cal Poly Pier in Avila Beach from the air.

Situated minutes from the Pacific Ocean on California's Central Coast, Cal Poly has a private research pier, several research vessels, a flow-through seawater system and many other resources on-campus that make us an ideal location for training the next generation of marine scientists.

Through course-based lab work and faculty-led research projects, you will develop real-world knowledge in areas such as physiology of marine organisms, conservation, fisheries, oceanographic sampling, and data management and analysis. There are many opportunities to apply what you learn through faculty-mentored research projects in the lab and on the water.

California Impact

In the midst of a rich and diverse marine ecosystem, our Center for Coastal Marine Sciences is the epicenter for hands-on field research. Our pier laboratory facility in nearby Avila Beach, California allows you to study a range of topics — from the ecology of kelp forest animals to the physics that drive ocean currents — in a true marine environment. This real-world experience allows you to become part of the process of creating new scientific knowledge.

From above, a cluster of people on surboards float in the ocean while a shark cruises nearby

Drones to track how sharks and humans interact


Shark Spotting — Student Researchers Develop Drone and AI Tech to Protect Beach…
Three women wearing masks stand around white plastic tanks filled with water and Pismo clams.

Clam Research in Pismo Beach, California


Keep Clam and Carry On: Researchers Work to Bring Back a Pismo Tradition
An offshore wind farm.

Climate resiliency on the Central Coast

California Impact

How to Fix Climate Crisis on the Central Coast? Cal Poly Researchers Look for S…

Our Graduates

Marine science graduates go on to work in a wide variety of fields, including academic research, advocacy and conservation, science education, local, state, or federal government and management, as well many industries in the private sector.