Biology— Marine Emphasis

Biology— Marine Emphasis


Near the shores of the Salish Sea, Western is in an ideal location for undergraduates studying marine sciences. The Biology – Marine Emphasis major provides a thorough introduction to the basic areas of biology and supporting sciences while allowing specialization in marine biology. Students explore the structure and function of marine organisms and their relationship with the environment. 

A highlight for most students in this emphasis is the opportunity to enroll in courses taught at Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center located in Anacortes, WA (about an hour from Bellingham). These all-day courses give students the opportunity to delve deeply into marine ecology and algal diversity, and include boat-based research and trips to nearby islands.

The integrated conceptual foundation in biology, the critical thinking skills, quantitative problem-solving abilities, leadership with team-building skills, and scientific research skills students obtain from lecture and laboratory courses in the B.S. Biology curriculum ultimately are critical for post-baccalaureate studies and future job performance. 

Western’s Biology Department is part of the College of Science and Engineering.


Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center is a 78-acre off-campus coastal research center covered mostly by forest and bordered by 3,000 feet of undisturbed beachfront. The Center is a serene learning environment, ideal for students studying marine sciences, and is complete with sophisticated labs and a fleet of 4 research vessels. 

Beyond the Classroom

The Biology program provides a wide variety of opportunities for applied practice of knowledge and skills gained in lectures and labs. Undergraduates are encouraged to engage in research alongside faculty, serve as teaching assistants for biology courses, join the Biology club, and/or develop their own extracurricular experience through the independent study option. Additionally, some upper level labs follow a project-based curriculum that resembles research experiences.   

The Biology Department works with Career Services to promote internships for external organizations to students and alumni. Students studying marine sciences can also gain invaluable research and internship experience at Western's coastal research center, the Shannon Point Marine Center.

Portrait of Jamie Latham

"I have had countless hours of lab-oriented experiences in the bio department. I know how to use a Scanning Electron Microscope, a variety of ecological probes, I do my own research that I design, and I help my professors with their research." 

Jamie Latham

Careers and Graduate Studies

Students who graduate with a B.S. or B.A. in Biology can apply their education to a variety of careers. Western’s Biology – Marine Emphasis graduates have taken on post-baccalaureate research jobs such as: data research clerk, algae researcher, and port/ocean sampler.


Sample Jobs

  • Marine Scientist 
  • Fisheries Biologist 
  • Ecologist 
  • Conservation Biologist 
  • Naturalist 
  • Laboratory Technician 
  • Educator

Requirements and Course Details

To learn more about this program, including grade requirements, a course listing, how to declare the major, and more, see the Program of Study Details.