Frequently Asked Questions: Marine Studies Major and Minor

Frequently Asked Questions

The Marine Studies undergraduate degree will explore the dynamic relationship between people and the marine environment—how people affect the ocean and, in turn, how the ocean affects humans. The degree program is for students who seek a liberal arts education and are keenly aware of the importance of the human dimension, broadly defined, of the marine environment in understanding the growing challenges and opportunities for the sustainability of our oceans and coasts. Housed in the College of Liberal Arts and supported by a partnership between the College of Liberal Arts and the Marine Studies Initiative, the undergraduate Marine Studies degree will draw on OSU’s excellent natural and social science traditions, as well as exceptional arts and humanities programs, to provide students with conceptual foundations, immersive experiences, and professional skills in the liberal arts-based areas of importance to marine studies.

Students will gain expertise and understanding of the social, cultural and economic issues currently faced by coasts and oceans, at regional, national, and international levels, while grounded in foundational knowledge of the marine natural systems. Students will be uniquely prepared for employment in a range of public and private settings, and for continued education in graduate school, through the development of interdisciplinary and collaborative problem-solving skills, strong ocean literacy, and hands-on coastal experiences. Students may earn either a B.S. or B.A. in Marine Studies through the College of Liberal Arts.

This degree is currently under development. If you are an interested student, please be aware that you may not be admitted to a program that is not represented in the current OSU Catalog. If you are interested in this degree, keep informed about its development by contacting the Marine Studies Initiative office and asking to be added to the marine studies degree listserv.

If you are interested in changing to the Marine Studies degree when it becomes available, select another major in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) that fits your interest in ocean/coastal issues. For example, if you are interested in the historical or economic perspectives of marine issues, select History or Economics. If you are interested in the ocean/coast from an artistic point of view, Digital Communication, Graphic Design and Art are options. CLA also has a Liberal Studies major, which provides cross-training across all of the CLA schools/disciplines. CLA academic advisors can walk you through matching your interests with the various CLA majors and the transition to the Marine Studies major.

If you are interested in the natural sciences, resource management, or conservation, consider one of the following pathways: 

  • Pursue a degree through natural sciences at OSU. Degrees that provide scientific training specific to issues of the ocean and coasts include: Marine Biology, Fisheries and Wildlife, Environmental Sciences, and Earth Science (Ocean Science option).
  • Add a minor to any CLA degree. Marine-related natural science minors at OSU are: Marine Biology & Ecology; Marine Conservation & Management; Oceanography. If you transfer to the Marine Studies major, when it becomes available, transfer into it and continue with your minor to receive that additional natural science training.

Ask to be added to the Marine Studies major listserv. We will keep you updated on the development of the Marine Studies major and let you know when it is available. Contact [email protected].

Take classes that fulfill your OSU Baccalaureate (Bacc) Core and/or Liberal Arts Core requirements. (See end of document for list of marine-related Bacc Core and Liberal Arts Core courses.) Register for the Winter or Spring Term weekend courses at Hatfield Marine Science Center to get you out to the Coast – Intro to Marine Life in the Sea (BI 111) and Intro to Marine Birds & Mammals (FW 113) are two currently (as of 2018/2019) in the OSU course catalog and more are being added. Although not a Bacc Core class, Intro to Marine Biology (BI 150) is great course to learn about marine organisms, their adaptations and environments plus current conservation challenges that threaten marine life.

Also, if you are starting in a degree program within College of Liberal Arts (CLA), you should take courses to fulfill the requirements for a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts. Links for these and Bacc and Liberal Arts Cores are:

Bacc Core requirements -- Liberal Arts Core requirements, CLA Bachelor of Science requirements and Bachelor of Arts requirements --

  • Get involved in coastal research and internships promoted by the Marine Studies Initiative, in collaboration with programs across campus.
  • Join Ocean11 – OSU’s marine club comprised of students from all 11 colleges working, exploring, learning, serving and having fun together to experience and make a difference with our ocean and coasts. Get involved in one of the Club’s Committee teams: Field Trips, Learning Opportunities, Research & Professional Development, Community Outreach, and Social.
  • For more information on research and internships, contact [email protected]

Once it is available, students will be able to transfer into the Marine Studies major at any time. Community college students can dual enroll, through the OSU Degree Partnership Program, to access the university’s marine programs. Students should talk with OSU advisors about taking marine courses through OSU, selecting classes at their community college that meet OSU degree requirements, and scenarios for transitioning to the university.

The Marine Studies undergraduate program emphasizes the human interaction with the ocean and coasts, so it could provide excellent complementary opportunities for a STEM field major. Most ocean issues are people issues. When the new major becomes available, a minor in Marine Studies will also be developed. Also, the new Marine Studies program in College of Liberal Arts will feature new classes focused on perspectives from the social sciences, arts, and humanities. Earning the Marine Studies minor or taking Marine Studies classes will help make you a well-rounded researcher, manager, educator or citizen because you understand the social, cultural, and economic issues related to your STEM field major. Keep up to date about new classes by joining the Marine Studies listserv.

Students who obtain a degree in Marine Studies will have expertise and understanding of the social, cultural, and economic issues currently faced by coasts and oceans. Their development of critical thinking, interdisciplinary and collaborative problem-solving skills, and ocean literacy combined with hands-on coastal experiences will uniquely prepare them for employment in a wide range of public and private settings (e.g., industry, education, government, tribal, consultant, non-profit) and for continued education in graduate school.

The Marine Studies degree does not have an independent research experience requirement, but includes an internship that focuses on experiential learning, professional exploration and development and opportunities for students to demonstrate experience in a marine context. The internship must involve a marine issue and include visits and/or residency in a coastal location. Possibilities include working on a volunteer or paid basis in a museum, a nonprofit organization, a public agency, a business, or as a research assistant in the fields covered by this liberal arts degree (e.g. social sciences, history, arts, etc). Thus, although the Marine Studies degree does not have a research experience requirement, students may choose a more research-focused Marine Studies internship. They may also gain natural or social science research experience through opportunities facilitated by OSU’s Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and the Arts (

Marine Studies students who desire to pursue a career in research about human dimensions of ocean and coasts will have a good foundation to build upon with their strong interdisciplinary and collaborative problem-solving skills, ocean literacy and hands-on coastal experience. Their training prepares them for graduate school and other experiences, which develop and strengthen their research skills. OSU has several minors in the social sciences (e.g., economics, sociology, anthropology, business, entrepreneurship) if students would like to pursue additional training in these areas. The list of all OSU minors is located at

OSU is a leader in graduate education focused on issues of the ocean and coasts. At this time, there are no plans for a Marine Studies graduate degree in College of Liberal Arts. All OSU Colleges are homes to excellent graduate programs, with opportunities for students to focus their graduate work on marine topics. As just one example, CEOAS hosts the Marine Resource Management master’s program. The Marine Studies Office can help guide you to programs that might be excellent matches for your interests and professional needs. For more information about marine-related graduate studies at OSU, visit

  • Introduction to Environmental Economics and Policy (AEC 250)
  • Rural Economics of Place and People (AEC 240)
  • Environmental Law, Policy, and Economics (AEC 253)
  • Introduction to Coastal and Marine Resource Economics (AEC 353)
  • Natural Resources Economics and Policy (AEC 351)
  • Environmental Economics and Policy (AEC/ECON 352)
  • Measuring Resource and Environmental Impacts (AEC 434)
  • Food Justice (ANTH/FCSJ 361)
  • Peoples of The World – Pacific (ANTH 317)
  • Anthropology of Tourism (ANTH 478)
  • Climate Science (ATS 201)
  • The Changing Climate (ATS 320)
  • Environmental Ecology (BI 306)
  • Genes and Chemicals in Agriculture: Value and Risk (BI/FES/TOX 435)
  • Human Impacts On Ecosystems (BI 301)
  • Introduction to Evolution (BI 345)
  • Oceans in Peril (BI 347)
  • Viruses in Modern Society (BI 420)
  • Technology, Energy, and Risk (CH 374)
  • Literature of The Oceans (ENG 499)
  • Nonfiction Analysis: Literature of The Oceans (ENG 499)
  • Sustainable Engineering (ENGR 350)
  • Introduction to Pacific Islands Studies (ES 260)
  • Native Americans in Oregon (ES 345)
  • Multicultural Perspectives in Fish and Wildlife Management (FW 340)
  • Wildlife in Agricultural Ecosystems (FW 435)
  • Human Dimensions of Fisheries and Wildlife Management (FW 439)
  • Fishery Biology (FW 454)
  • Aquaculture (FW 497)
  • Ecology and History: Landscapes of The Columbia Basin (FW/HSTS 470)
  • Consensus and Natural Resources (FW/SOC/ANS 485)
  • Food from The Sea (FW 324)
  • Global Crises in Resource Ecology (FW 325)
  • Endangered Species, Society, and Sustainability (FW 350)
  • Citizen Science (FW 356)
  • Origins of Fisheries and Wildlife Management - Evolution, Genetics, and Ecology (FW 360)
  • Environmental Justice (GEO 309)
  • Minerals, Energy, Water, and The Environment (GEO 306)
  • Earthquakes in The Pacific Northwest (GEO 380)
  • Geospatial Science and GIS (GEOG/GEO 201)
  • Sustainability for The Common Good (GEOG/GEO 300)
  • Geography of International Development and Globalization (GEOG 330)
  • Introduction to Water Science and Policy (GEOG/SOIL 340)
  • Population, Consumption, and Environment (GEOG 331)
  • Geography of Natural Hazards (GEOG 350)
  • Exploring The Deep: Geography of The World's Oceans (OC 103)
  • Oceanography (OC 201)
  • Polar Oceanography (OC 334)
  • Energy Alternatives (PH 313)
  • Reasoning and Writing (PHL 121)
  • Philosophy of Biology (PHL 474)
  • Scientific Reasoning (PHL 325)
  • Environmental Ethics (PHL 440)
  • World Views and Environmental Values (PHL/REL 443)
  • State and Local Politics (PS 331)
  • Topics in Comparative Politics (PS 449)
  • Science, Religion, and Politics (PS 370)
  • Science and Politics (PS 476)
  • Population Trends and Policy (SOC 360)
  • Environmental Sociology (SOC 480)
  • Society and Natural Resources (SOC 481)
  • Introduction to Environmental Science and Sustainability (SUS 102)
  • Sustainable Communities (SUS 350)
  • Introduction to Poetry Writing (WR 241)
  • Environmental Writing (WR 462)
  • Biodiversity: Causes, Consequences, and Conservation (Z 349)
  • Food Justice (ANTH/FCSJ 361)
  • Image and Myth in Film (COMM 380)
  • Theories of Conflict and Conflict Management (COMM 440)
  • Bargaining and Negotiation Processes (COMM 442)
  • Rhetoric of Popular Culture (COMM 472)
  • Studies in Nonfiction (ENG 445)
  • Studies in Film, Culture, and Society (FILM 480)
  • Sustainability for the Common Good (GEOG/GEO 300)
  • Food in World History (HST 416)
  • Environmental History of the United States (HST 481)
  • History of Twentieth-Century Science (HSTS 414)
  • Theory of Evolution and Modern Biology (HSTS 415)
  • Environmental Ethics (PHL 440)
  • World Views and Environmental Values (PHL/REL 443)
  • Systems of Oppression in Marine Societies (WGSS 414)
  • Introduction to Poetry Writing (WR 241)

For more information:  

Visit Hatfield Marine Science Center at:

General questions contact us

For academic and advising questions email:

Cynthia Leonard (MSI Academic Advisor) 


Itchung Cheung (Academic Programs Manager)