Marine Biology Frequently Asked Questions

What skills do I need to succeed in this major?

If you're considering a marine biology major at CMU, you should be interested in the science of aquatics, and have a desire to engage in fieldwork like SCUBA, seining, dip netting, identifying unknown species, microscopy, snorkeling, and aquarium management. It's important to be self-motivated and prepared to conduct independent research. Because science is a field that constantly evolves, the ability to embrace change is an essential skill.

How will I know if this major fits me?

If you have an interest in the environment and wonder about different aquatic species, this major is a great choice for you. An exciting adventure awaits you as a CMU marine biology major, with learning focused around fisheries, aquaculture/mariculture, toxicology and environmental issues.

What can I expect to learn?

As a marine biology student at CMU, you will gain knowledge about invertebrate zoology, ichthyology, parasitology, oceanography, SCUBA, early vertebrates, toxicology and aquarium technology. You will develop a collection of techniques and instrumentation skills, and conduct independent research as you gain experience in writing and presenting scientific findings and research.

What technology will I use in this major?

You will receive continuous experience with a collection of equipment like SCUBA gear, underwater cameras, video editing equipment, GIS, sonar, marine vessels, nets, trawls and seines, hydrometers, refractometers, and microscopes.

Will I have opportunities for internships and hands-on learning experiences?

The marine biology major offers many exciting opportunities for hands-on experience. Students visit research labs and unique aquatic centers in Missouri, across the country and internationally. Additionally, students are provided hands-on experience with a variety of aquatic creatures in the classroom.

How much do the trips cost?

After completion of complementary courses, each marine biology major has the opportunity to receive funding from CMU to attend each trip once during their academic studies. Students are required to pay a small, non-refundable deposit in order to ensure their spot on the trip.

Do I need supplemental schooling at the coast?

All courses needed to complete your marine biology degree are taught on Central's Fayette campus. However, we maintain a partnership with Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Mississippi if you would like to take additional courses. 

Do I have to get SCUBA certified?

No. SCUBA certification is not required to be a marine biologist. However, SCUBA is typically required for many jobs and graduate schools. During our trips to Panama City Beach and Roatan, we spend the majority of our time diving. Due to so much experience in the water, many of our students graduate with their Advanced SCUBA diving certification. SCUBA is taught on campus each year at a reduced rate. 

Where do your marine biology majors go after graduation?

After graduation, many of our student head to graduate school to earn higher degrees. Other students choose to enter the work force and have obtained jobs within the aquarium industry, as fisheries observers, as environmental educators, coral researchers, and a variety of other positions around the United States. 

What are CMU marine biology majors saying about their experience?

"Marine biology at Central Methodist University is unlike any other major on campus. As a marine bio major, there are many opportunities for hands-on experience, from trips to islands outside of the U.S. to dissections in lab - not to mention the fact that everywhere we go we always partake in a gourmet seafood smorgasbord! How many other majors do you know of that are allowed to continuously eat what they study?" - Breilly Roy

"Even though we are located nowhere near the coast, there are still trips that we take and get to learn from. The classes are enlightening and there's never a dull moment. The professors provide actual specimens when available. The labs are very informative and hands-on. I have made a lot of great friendships through the Marine Biology Club, which will last a lifetime." - Brenna Russ

What are CMU students who graduated with this degree doing now?

Graduates of CMU's marine biology program are working in a variety of settings and fields including graduate and professional schools, public aquariums, NOAA fisheries, and for places like Gulf Coast Research Laboratory and the Navy.

Who can I speak with for more information about this major?

For additional guidance and information about the marine biology major, contact CMU's Admissions Department at 660-248-6251, toll-free at 877-CMU-1854, or