Marine life

Marine and Coastal Science

Marine and Coastal Science

About the Major

The major in Marine and Coastal Science focuses on the interdisciplinary nature of marine sciences by exposing students to core, breadth, and focus area courses in the discipline, in addition to a strong foundation of science preparatory material. The major builds upon existing strengths at UC Davis in marine and coastal sciences as well as field-­based courses offered at Bodega Marine Laboratory to provide students a unique, interdisciplinary, “hands on” education. 

In this major, students will be exposed to the foundation disciplines within marine science (biology, chemistry, geology, physics) as well as modern issues facing marine and coastal environments; e.g., climate change, pollution, carbon cycling, conservation. The major requires field experience, independent research or internship, and concludes with a capstone course featuring current research in marine science. These integrative experiences will require students to synthesize the interdisciplinary topics that they have encountered through this degree program.

Major advising is provided by the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences for interested students. To make an appointment with the MCS advisor please go to

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Understand and integrate fundamental principles, including:
    • development and evolution of modern ocean/earth system
    • distribution, diversity and abundance of marine life, and special adaptations to ocean environment
    • impact of ocean circulation on climate, atmosphere, biosphere
    • biogeochemical cycles, ocean productivity
    • processes at terrestrial-marine interface and in the coastal zone
    • anthropogenic impacts and management of ocean resources
  • Utilize the scientific method to answer questions and investigate the natural world
  • Successfully communicate scientific information through presentations and writing
  • Interpret and discuss scientific data, critically evaluate published scientific literature
  • Experience the marine environment in field, research or internship opportunities
  • Explain and evaluate major issues that are facing the modern marine environment


The Marine and Coastal Science major (any emphasis) will provide students with knowledge and practical experience needed to pursue careers in marine science (government, private sector, research) and/or advanced degree programs. The major program includes both research and internship experiences to help prepare students for these career paths.