What is Marine Science?

The study of marine life and organisms in the ocean, marine sciences involve biological and physical sciences. While there are many different paths a Marine Scientist can take, get started by learning more from Greg Rouse, a Marine Biologist about their work and research from this video.


Marine Biologist may be the most historically recognized title associated with the study of Marine Science. Research topics and areas of study may relate to behavior, a particular species or ecosystem, among other topics. Additional career paths for students in Marine Science can vary based on interests and skills. Working in research through different organizations and interest areas is common but, you will also find a need for those with a Marine Science background in areas such as:

Position Titles to Explore

  • Academia
  • Biotechnology Researcher
  • Environmental consulting
  • Environmental lobbying
  • Lawyers
  • Veterinarians

O*NET has some great information on the skills, knowledge and abilities of the occupations listed above. Learn more about different Marine Careers and Marine Mammal Science from these sites supported by Sea Grant and the NOAA.


Learn more about different organizations and companies that work with Marine Scientists.

Focus Areas

While some components of Marine Science study is broad, there are many focus areas based on your own interests ranging from field-specific to policy-related.  You could focus on:

  • animal physiology
  • aquaculture
  • conservation genetics
  • conservation technologies
  • deep-sea biology
  • ecology
  • energy
  • fisheries
  • geospatial ecology
  • marine protected areas
  • ocean governance
  • wildlife conservation

Additionally, you may find a great opportunity for focus and support at the intersection of Marine Science and another area of study. For example, many Duke students find overlapping interests when combining Marine Science with some of these areas:

  • Anthropology (Cultural and Evolutionary)
  • Chemistry
  • Climate science
  • Economics
  • Environmental Science
  • Natural Science
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Prehealth
  • Public Policy

Blue Technology

Blue Tech is a term for the movement to address the issues of the growing scarcity of fresh water and the consequences of drought. This is an industry that focuses on such things as desalination, clean water technologies, maritime robotics, ocean science, aquaculture, etc.

Source: https://theliquidgrid.com/2018/05/26/a-growing-blue-economy/

Companies working in this space

  • Vegetal i.D.
  • Microbe Detective and
  • Fruition Sciences
  • Imagine H2O
  • Teledyne RD Instruments
  • The Coast Guard and Scripps Institute created the Blue Technology Center of Expertise in San Diego


Professional Organizations

Companies where Duke alumni work

  • Blackbeard Biologic: Science and Environmental Advisors
  • Chicago Zoological Society’s Sarasota Dolphin Research Program
  • Environmental Policy Consulting
  • Greater Cleveland Aquarium
  • National Aquarium in Baltimore
  • NOAA: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
  • North Carolina Coastal Reserve
  • Ocean Conservancy
  • SC Department of Natural Resources
  • Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • US Commission on Ocean Policy

Scholars Programs


Undergraduate research opportunities are available through the Duke University Marine Lab (DUML) in the areas of biology, environmental science and policy, and earth and ocean science. Each Fall, students and faculty partner on various independent research projects.
[Learn more about the DUML]

Duke Nicholas School of Environment Duke University Marine Lab

Topics of research from faculty at the Marine Lab include:

  • Animal Physiology & Behavior
  • Coastal Wetland Ecology
  • Deep-Sea Biology & Ecology
  • Fluid dynamics in the Coastal Ocean
  • Marine Mammal Biology & Ecology
  • Microbial Oceanography and Ecology
  • Ocean Governance and Community Based Conservation
  • Physical Oceanography

Internships Duke students have held

  • National Science Foundation
  • Naval Research Laboratory
  • Sea Watch Foundation
  • NOAA PISFC Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program

Skills required to work in the field

Skills needed may vary by specific job role or company needs but in general, these are the skills needed to work in the Marine Science field.

  • Science background including an understanding of scientific methods
  • Research
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Data review and analysis including related software
  • Collaboration/Ability to work with partners or teams

Job Boards 

Duke students and alumni with this major have held these positions

  • Aquarist Assistant
  • Communications Specialist
  • CEO
  • Director of Freshwater Science and Strategy
  • Educator
  • Field Assistant
  • Marine Biologist
  • Marine Conservationist
  • Marine Ecologist
  • Public Affairs Officer
  • Reef Resilience Network Science Lead
  • Staff Scientist