What to Expect
How would you like to get a glimpse of the wondrous world that lies beneath
the water? Marine biology students explore every aspect of plant and animal
life under the sea, including algae, coral reefs and whales.
Raquel Mendoza went to Bowling Green State University. She studied for
an undergraduate degree in biology with a marine and aquatic biology specialization.
Not all schools offer a marine biology major at the bachelor's degree level.
During her program, Mendoza volunteered in a marine lab at school.
Mendoza says that this is a bonus, as a lab is not a feature of every
marine science program. She says that taking care of the tanks helped her
learn about different organisms.
"The marine lab here helps a great deal," she says. "I've made new friends.
It allows me to network and our lab director is a great friend."
Kevin Kroeger started off with a bachelor of arts from the University of
Tennessee. During his senior year, he did some work for an oceanography professor.
"And just after graduation, I went on a [research] cruise with her to the
Bering Sea," he remembers. "This was a fantastic start in marine science!"
During his master's program in marine science, Kroeger worked for a
professor for 20 hours each week, for a salary of $16,000 a year.
He also did fieldwork: one-day research cruises on 16- to 50-foot
boats to collect benthic organisms -- creatures like clams and worms.
Kroeger also did lab work. "[Samples] were preserved and analyzed
in the laboratory."
He also had to do data analysis and writing. "This involves the
use of various types of computer software to take raw data and produce a paper
for publication in a science journal."
How to Prepare
First and foremost, take science classes, suggests Mendoza.
"If you live near the ocean, find someone who is a marine biologist
and shadow them for a day, or week, or month. That way, you'll know what
it's like before you enter a four-year program," she says.