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10 Marine Biology Pre College Programs for High Schoolers

If you are interested in Marine Biology, definitely check out these Pre College Programs! These programs typically offer immersive experiences that combine classroom learning with hands-on fieldwork, allowing you to dive deep into subjects such as marine ecosystems, conservation biology, oceanography, and marine wildlife. By participating in such programs, you not only gain substantial knowledge in marine biology but also demonstrate to college admissions officers your commitment to pursuing a specialized field of study

Additionally, marine biology pre college programs often include components like research projects, lab work, and field trips, which are instrumental in developing critical thinking, analytical, and observational skills. These skills are highly valued in higher education and can make your college applications stand out. Participating in such programs also often leads to unique personal statements, where you can share experiences of working in marine environments, your passion for marine life, and how these experiences have shaped your academic and career goals. Colleges and universities are not only looking for academically talented students but also those who show a genuine interest and enthusiasm for their chosen field of study. 

For more marine biology programs, check out internships in marine biology and research ideas in marine biology!

Location: Cornell 

Cost: $5,250 ($1,750 per credit for three credits) 

Program Dates: 7/29 - 8/12

Application Deadline: Unspecified

Eligibility: Must have completed two year-long high school courses in science, and completion of grades 10, 11 or 12.

If you’re passionate about marine biology and environmental science, the Cornell Precollege program at Shoals Marine Laboratory is a great opportunity for you. This university-level course provides an in-depth exploration of diverse coastal marine habitats and ecosystems, focusing particularly on human impacts and environmental health. This course isn't confined to traditional classroom learning; it includes virtual fieldwork, allowing you to engage in active learning and exploration. You'll virtually visit the rocky intertidal zone, take excursions to neighboring islands to observe seal and seabird colonies, and embark on offshore trips. These experiences are designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of oceanographic sampling techniques and to observe whale foraging grounds firsthand.

Participating in this program demonstrates to college admissions committees your commitment to academic excellence and your eagerness to challenge yourself beyond the high school curriculum. The skills and knowledge you gain from this course are particularly relevant if you plan to pursue a career or further education in environmental science, marine biology, or related fields. Additionally, the experience of engaging in university-level coursework and virtual fieldwork prepares you for the rigors of college academics. 

Location: Brown University

Cost: $5,256

Program Dates: June 26 - July 7

Application Deadline: May 1

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible. 

The goal of this course is to introduce you to the many facets of ocean science, gain some familiarity with different aspects of marine science research, and become familiar with reading, synthesizing, discussing, and writing peer-reviewed journal articles. Coursework will include viewing presentations from science faculty, researchers, and Save the Bay staff, focusing on the methods and techniques used in their day-to-day work, water data collection and analysis, and reading and interpreting peer-reviewed journal articles. Data collected and discussed during the course will be analyzed by you in a culminating report, where you will articulate the findings of your work to an audience of peers.

You will first walk away from this course with a general understanding of the four branches of Oceanography: Physical, Chemical, Biological, and Geological. A concrete understanding of the living and non-living factors affecting marine systems will build the foundation for further studies of the bay throughout the course of the class. In addition, an increased familiarity with the diversity of coastal marine habitats will give you an understanding of the complexity of Narragansett Bay as an estuarine ecosystem, as well as the important roles estuaries play in the health of all marine systems around the globe.

Location: Virtual

Cost: $5,250

Program Dates: January 2 - 19

Application Deadline: December

Eligibility: Rising Juniors and Seniors

If you have an interest in marine biology, the Cornell Online Pre College course in Biomedical Terminology will give you a foundation of words that you will encounter in marine science. This course is designed to equip you with an understanding of the language used in the biomedical field, a skill that is crucial for anyone aspiring to a career in marine biology or related disciplines. Throughout the course, you will learn the roots, prefixes, and suffixes that form the basis of biomedical terminology, enabling you to comprehend and communicate complex concepts more effectively. This understanding is particularly important in marine biology, where you will encounter a diverse range of terms related to marine organisms, ecosystems, and the environmental factors affecting them. Gaining proficiency in biomedical terminology will not only enhance your comprehension of scientific literature and lectures in future academic pursuits but also demonstrate your preparedness and serious commitment to the field in your college applications. This online course, offered by an esteemed institution like Cornell, also provides you with the flexibility to learn at your own pace while still receiving high-quality education and resources, making it an excellent choice for you to get a head start in your marine science education journey.

Location: Tufts Medford Campus

Cost: Commuter: $4,000, Residential: $5,500, Materials Fee $200

Application Deadline: May 1

Program Dates: July 7 – July 19, 2024

Eligibility: Entering grades 10-12 or a Spring 2024 high school graduate

The Tufts Lab Science Investigations program allows you to dive into the complex and pressing issue of antibiotic microbial resistance, an issue that is relevant to marine science. This issue is prevalent in various marine animals so understanding its cause and methods of treatment is crucial. As a student researcher in this program, you will have the unique privilege of working on AMR research, towards a deeper understanding of the problem and its far-reaching implications.

What sets this program apart is its holistic approach to the issue of AMR, rooted in the One Health perspective, which recognizes the interconnectedness of human health, animal health, and the environment. As part of the STEM Research Institute, you will have the opportunity to engage with experts from a wide range of fields, gaining insights from engineers, social scientists, biomedical scientists, veterinarians, physicians, drug developers, epidemiologists, healthcare policy experts, and environmental scientists. Working together at the Tufts Levy Center for Integrated Management of Antimicrobial Resistance (CIMAR), you not only explore the scientific aspects of AMR but also gain a comprehensive view of the social, environmental, and policy dimensions that contribute to the issue. This program equips you with invaluable knowledge, skills, and a multifaceted perspective to tackle one of the most pressing challenges of our time.

Location: Online

Cost: $3,050

Program Dates: June 17 - June 28 or July 8 - July 18

Application Deadline: March

Eligibility: 9-12th grade students

If you are interested in marine science, Stanford's Online Pre College Topics in Bioscience course offers you a comprehensive foundation in biomedical sciences, crucial for a successful career in various fields, including marine biology. This course encompasses a broad spectrum of subjects such as biology, anatomy, physiology, and other related areas, all of which are integral to understanding marine life and ecosystems. You will gain insights into complex biological processes, such as how gas exchange occurs in the lungs – a concept that can be paralleled to understanding respiration in aquatic organisms. The course also explores the response of the heart and blood vessels to changes in oxygenation, an area that is particularly relevant in studying how marine creatures adapt to different oxygen levels in water.

Additionally, you will delve into molecular biology, learning how genetic material turns into proteins, a fundamental process in all living organisms, including those in marine environments. Engaging with live lectures, asynchronous assignments, small group learning activities, and a group project, you will not only learn theoretical concepts but also develop practical skills and collaborative abilities. 

Location: Johns Hopkins University 

Cost: $1,950

Program Dates: June 24 - July 4, July 8 - July 18, or July 22 - August 1

Application Deadline: March

Eligibility: All High School students are eligible

This course delves into the essential question of what it means to “design” an experiment. You will learn how scientists meticulously plan experimental approaches to test specific hypotheses and obtain informative results. Imagine yourself exploring the various analytical methods best suited to answering specific questions in marine science, such as the effects of ocean acidification on marine life or the genetics of coral reefs. You will also learn how to select appropriate samples for analysis and identify variables that could influence the outcomes of your experiments.

This course places a strong emphasis on planning and executing experiments with appropriate controls, a fundamental aspect of scientific inquiry. You will not only design and carry out experiments to test specific hypotheses but also critically analyze the results obtained. The laboratory techniques you will be introduced to are foundational in molecular biology and include standard procedures like gel electrophoresis, PCR, and gene expression analysis. These techniques are highly applicable in marine science research, whether it's studying genetic diversity in marine populations or understanding molecular responses of aquatic organisms to environmental stressors. By the end of this course, you will have developed a solid foundation in experimental design and gained practical laboratory skills, both of which are invaluable in the field of marine science. 

Location: University of California, San Diego, CA

Cost: $2,500

Program Dates: January to March

Application Deadline: Rolling

Eligibility: Students who are at least 15, in grades 10-12, and have a minimum GPA of 3.0

The UCSD Research Scholars Marine Science Track is a great opportunity for you if you are passionate about marine science. Tier 1 courses provide a foundational understanding of ocean sciences, particularly focusing on marine biology and related disciplines. As a participant in these courses, you will delve into the diversity of marine life and the complex interactions of biological, chemical, and physical processes that drive ecosystem dynamics in the marine environment. Offered online, these courses, spanning 4 or 8 weeks, are structured to acclimate you to the rhythm of university summer and quarter systems. Each week features two asynchronous, interactive, and gamified lessons, coupled with synchronous sessions for collaboration, discussions, guest speaker interactions, and guided virtual lab experiences.

Building upon the foundation laid in Tier 1, Tier 2 courses provide a hands-on, multidisciplinary research experience. In collaboration with Scripps Institution of Oceanography graduate students and active marine science researchers, you will engage in practical research across various domains, including California Coastal Ecology, Coral Reef Ecology and Restoration, Animal Physiology, Thermodynamics, Metabolics, and Fisheries Science. Field-based excursions to intertidal zones, salt marshes, and other marine ecosystems in San Diego form an integral part of the program, offering experiential learning opportunities. Upon completing one or more Tier 2 courses, Tier 3 courses await, where you can further develop your scientific writing skills and even publish studies in the Marine Science Research Scholars Journal. 

Location: University of Connecticut

Cost: $2,150

Program Dates: July 7 - July 13

Application Deadline: March

Eligibility: High School Students with 2 years of High School Science and Math through Algebra II  with a grade of C or higher

At UConn’s PreCollege Marine Biology program, you will be able to explore the intricacies of ocean and coastal water ecosystems. This hands-on course is designed to give you a comprehensive insight into the work of marine scientists, who strive to understand various aspects of the ocean to protect marine life and sustain ocean resources. Over the course of a week, you’ll study fish diversity in a nearby cove, explore the marine invertebrate inhabitants of rocky intertidal zones, and assess the health of seagrass and seaweed populations. The program includes conducting plankton tows, studying tidal pools on the campus, and learning through dissections and laboratory experiments about the physiology and adaptations of local marine animals. A significant part of your learning will involve using instrumentation and sensors to collect data on the chemical and physical environment of the marine ecosystem.

By the end of the week, you will have gained hands-on experience with various types of equipment and instruments, conducted laboratory work, and engaged in instrumental analysis. Throughout the program, you will use mathematics, test hypotheses, and apply reasoning to interpret data and explain your observations. This task will incorporate the critical thinking and creativity nurtured throughout the week. The program aims to leave you with a better understanding of how scientists discover and explain the natural world, an appreciation of how oceanography helps manage our planet’s resources, a grasp of the interactions in marine ecology, and the realization that the survival of marine life depends upon our stewardship of the oceans. 

Location: Stony Brook Southampton

Cost: $1,100 for in state tuition and $3,300 for out of state tuition 

Program Dates: July 9 - July 22

Application Deadline: End of April

Eligibility: High school students who have completed high school biology and are at least 16 years old.

At Stony Brook Southampton's pre-college Oceanography program, you will explore the intricate chemical, geological, and physical processes that define its major features and the life it sustains. The program runs for two weeks at the Stony Brook Southampton campus, where each weekday is filled with 4 – 5.5 hours of intensive study. You will be engaged in a comprehensive curriculum delivered through a combination of lectures and interactive in-class activities, including an exciting live plankton lab. This hands-on approach to learning is designed to not only provide theoretical knowledge but also to offer practical experiences that bring the concepts of oceanography to life.

One of the most thrilling aspects of this course are the two boat trips, where you will get to apply your learning in real-world settings. These excursions are more than just field trips; they are integral parts of the course where you will explore nearby coastal habitats using oceanographic sampling equipment. As you navigate these environments, you'll gain firsthand experience in marine research techniques, collecting and analyzing data just like professional oceanographers. The boat trips offer a unique opportunity to witness the diversity of marine life and the complexity of oceanic ecosystems up close. Throughout the course, you will also delve into human interactions with the marine environment, gaining insights into the challenges and opportunities that lie in balancing ecological sustainability with human activity. 

Location: University of Miami

Cost: $9,418

Program Dates: June 29 - July 19

Application Deadline: February 1

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible

At the University of Miami's Marine Mammal Biology and Conservation class, you will be introduced to the captivating world of marine mammals. This class is designed to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the fundamental biological concepts pertinent to marine mammal science, including taxonomy, physiology, natural history, behavior, and the challenges they face in conservation. It incorporates a blend of lectures and discussions that delve into the depth of marine mammal biology, offering you insights into the intricacies of these magnificent creatures. The class also involves a review of primary literature, which is key to understanding the current research and developments in this field. 

The course includes an array of engaging activities such as career guidance sessions, guest lectures from experts in the field, and educational videos and movies. These components are designed to broaden your perspective on marine mammal science and offer a realistic insight into potential career paths in this field. One of the highlights of the class are the field trips, which provide an invaluable opportunity for you to observe marine mammals in their natural habitats and apply the knowledge you've gained in a real-world setting. 

One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you would like to further enhance your applications, you should also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.

Jessica attends Harvard University where she studies Neuroscience and Computer Science as a Coca-Cola, Elks, and Albert Shankar Scholar. She is passionate about educational equity and hopes to one day combine this with her academic interests via social entrepreneurship. Outside of academics, she enjoys taking walks, listening to music, and running her jewelry business!

Image Source: Cornell University seal



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