Study Marine Biology Abroad

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A Guide to Studying Marine Biology Abroad

Watching a bicolor angelfish in a tank in your university’s lab is one thing, but seeing one amongst the coral of the Great Barrier Reef is another experience altogether. Studying marine biology abroad provides you with the opportunity to experience first-hand the subject and the incredible organisms and ecosystems that you are studying. If you live in a landlocked state, it can be difficult to access these ecosystems, so studying marine biology abroad is a necessity for your educational and career success. Don’t be afraid to dive in and learn more about both the world of marine biology and the rest of the world as well!

Why Study Abroad

Marine biology study abroad programs allow you to step outside of the classroom and into the world you’ve been studying in textbooks. The practical knowledge gained from fieldwork on-location not only strengthens your resume, but also your capabilities as a scientist.

The cultural experience of studying marine biology abroad also gives you the chance to learn from another country’s approach to marine conservation and research. As the oceans do not belong to just one country, the work completed in the water is a global responsibility and international collaboration is essential. Learning how to partner with diverse cultures and work together in the field of marine biology are just a few of the incredible opportunities that studying abroad provides.


Where you decide to study marine biology abroad is dependent upon your interests within the subject, as the ecosystems in the Mediterranean can vary greatly from those in the Pacific. With the world’s oceans covering 71 percent of the earth’s surface, there are a great number of locations to study marine biology abroad in various parts of the world, such as Central America, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, or Africa. There are many great destinations around the world to study marine biology.

Costa Rica is distinctly positioned since its east coast faces the Caribbean Sea and its west coast faces the Pacific Ocean. Costa Rica offers endless possibilities to study tropical marine biology. With the biodiversity of Costa Rica’s ecosystems, marine biology study abroad programs located in cities such as San Jose may focus on anything from coral reefs, to sandy and muddy beaches, to mangroves, to estuaries. Costa Rica is also known worldwide for its ecotourism, leading the world in innovative green travel.

Antarctica provides an incredibly unique study abroad opportunity for students who are not afraid of (a chilly) adventure. Marine biology study abroad programs in this rugged, remote landscape allow students to have close encounters with arctic marine wildlife. The White Continent is not for the faint of heart, but it is an experience unlike any other—both personally and academically.

Australia struggles to preserve its Great Barrier Reef—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—in the face of economic pressure to expand oil mining. As a result, marine biology programs in Australia offer students the chance to explore the world’s largest coral reef system with a focus on not only the biodiversity of the reef, but also the sustainability issues that are inevitably tied to conservation of such an important ecosystem.

Courses & Programs

The structure of your program depends on which marine biology study abroad program you choose, although most courses that you will take abroad will be in partnership with a host university in the country that you study in. 

Most marine biology courses abroad combine classroom learning with hands-on fieldwork; as such, some previous lab experience is typically required. Fieldwork may involve inshore or offshore sampling, surveying, and identification while on the coast, on reefs, or in open water on research vessels. Much of the work done in the water will be carried through to your lab work and a semester-long research project.

Subjects may include Ecology, Sustainability, Human Impact on Marine Biology, or Tropical Botany, amongst others; what is remarkable about these courses is they will be tailored specifically to the region in which you are studying. Unlike taking courses at your home university, studying marine biology abroad not only allows you to see firsthand the marine life described in your textbooks, but also allows you to see marine life on a grander scale in the context of the entire ecosystem. 

It is important to thoroughly research each study abroad program to ensure that the area of study pertains to your interests within the field of marine biology. Marine biology study abroad programs are very specific to what type of water and what type of organisms students will be studying, and the time of year may also affect what you are able to study. The amount of hands-on interaction with the subjects is also a significant consideration to take into account when selecting a study abroad program in marine biology.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Studying marine biology abroad allows you to explore your interests both inside and outside of the classroom and being able to physically observe organisms in their natural habitats gives you a much more thorough understanding of marine biology as a whole.

Hands-on fieldwork and practical working knowledge in a lab are excellent experiences to demonstrate to grad schools or future employers in a number of fields. 

Aside from the excellent academic experience, studying abroad also offers the opportunity to explore another country’s culture and its approach to scientific work. The challenge of adapting to a new country—a new ecosystem, if you will—can only help you grow into a better student, a conscientious scientist, and a true global explorer.

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A Guide To
Studying Marine Biology Abroad


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SEA Semester

Study Marine Biology while on an ocean voyage with SEA Semester. Students take part in an interdisciplinary curriculum, with classes held both onshore and abroad a ship. Participants experience challenging voyages of academic pursuits, scientific discovery, and personal growth.


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CISabroad - giving you the best value in study abroad

Take part in fully supported Marine Biology academic programs. CISabroad provides low-cost and comprehensive programs that have study abroad participants' needs covered. The organization provides support before, during, and after the program, and opportunities for internship and social and cultural engagements.


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American Institute For Foreign Study

Study abroad for a semester or academic year in the lively capital of San José with AIFS. Earn up to 23 credits through courses taught in English or Spanish at Veritas University, with no previous Spanish language study required. Choose one of three academic programs: - Spanish Language, Liberal Arts, and Environmental Sciences Program - Spanish Language and Internship Program (language...


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IES Abroad

Take the opportunity to learn and live alongside French and international students through direct enrollment at SKEMA Business School. Their state-of-the-art business campus is situated in the heart of Sophia Antipolis. Students enroll in Science, Engineering, and/or Business courses while improving the French language skills. SKEMA is accredited by EQUIS and AACSB, and is consistently ranked b...


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Athena Study Abroad

Athena's London program takes place at the University of Roehampton, where students can live, learn and socialize together on a beautiful and historic campus in southwest London. The school offers a range of excellent facilities as well as easy access to the world-class museums, libraries and galleries of one of the most exciting and successful cities in the world. Students are taught direct...


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Syracuse University Madrid Center

As a student in the SU Madrid program, you will start your semester abroad by embarking on one of four amazing traveling academic experiences, aimed at giving you the best introduction to Spain and Europe. During that time, you'll also meet fellow classmates and key SU Madrid staff and faculty. Once in Madrid, you will take courses at the SU Madrid Center, located at the Instituto Internacio...


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University Studies Abroad Consortium

Take part in Marine Biology coursework while learning the Spanish language through the University Studies Abroad Consortium. Students can join the program in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, where they will have plenty of opportunities to practice Spanish with locals and immerse in the culture.


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Academic Programs International (API)

Enroll in Marine Biology courses abroad with Academic Programs International. Open to American and Canadian students, the program offers extracurricular activities, such as volunteer work, dancing, and cooking classes. The program is available in Costa Rica and Scotland.


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ISA (International Studies Abroad)

ISA offers you the chance to sign up for an intensive month, semester, back-to-back, or summer study program in Chile! You will take courses in Spanish ideal to your proficiency level, as well as in English. Our partner schools are the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso and Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, where you will attend classes with locals only or with both local and international ...


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Whether you’re looking to begin your study of Spanish, or you’re an intermediate to advanced student ready to take your Spanish proficiency to the next level, come spend your summer in beautiful Palma de Mallorca. In Palma, you’ll find intensive language instruction and a rich selection of area studies electives that are supplemented with substantial interactive and experiential components. Th...


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Get involved, make an impact, and learn to serve! University credit is available for our local service learning programs in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Service Learning Project Areas: - Working with Kids - Teaching English - Conservation - Construction - Animal Care - Eco-Agriculture - Indigenous Immersion - Medical & Healthcare University credit is awarded ...


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Integrated Studies Program - Alicante, Spain

Spanish Studies Abroad Integrated Studies Program gives advanced Spanish-level students the unique opportunity to take classes alongside Spanish students at Universidad de Alicante, while benefiting from the cultural guidance, language tools, and academic quality that defines Spanish Studies programming. The program integrates thoughtful synthesis of homestays, study visits, language exchanges...


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Semester at Sea

Semester at Sea is a global journey that brings students face-to-face with a diversity of our world's cultures and perspectives. Every spring and fall, Semester at Sea explores up to 11 developed and emerging countries and 15 cities on a 100-day voyage. Students represent nearly 25 different countries and 250 institutions, and with the faculty, staff, and crew become a supportive and colla...


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ISEP Study Abroad

Ready to live and study alongside locals in the cultural capital of the Middle East, Sharjah? With our flexible course enrollment program at one of the United Arab Emirates' most prestigious universities, American University of Sharjah, you will be able to choose classes from the institution's full-course curriculum. Choose from hundreds of high-quality courses to meet your academic requirement...


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The Education Abroad Network

Just five minutes away from Coogee Beach and home to Australia’s oldest study abroad program, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) offers an extensive array of courses and is a leading university not only in Australia but around the world, particularly for science and technology. UNSW is an urban, modern campus situated in the lively area of Kensington only a 20-minute bus ride from the Syd...