Marine Vertebrate Biology (MVB)

The Marine Vertebrate Biology major provides students with a solid background in basic biology with an emphasis on marine vertebrate organisms such as fish, sharks, birds, turtles and marine mammals. It provides a more intensive zoology background than the Marine Sciences degree.

Students are encouraged to participate in research and internships.  Opportuni­ties for experiential learning are available through field and laboratory courses taught at or near the Stony Brook campus and from a field station at the Stony Brook Southampton campus.

Most students who wish to have a career in research related to the marine environment will need to plan for graduate study. Career possibilities include research, education, or work in government agencies or non-profit organizations. The Marine Vertebrate Biology major is also good preparation for the Master of Arts in Teaching high school biology program or a pre-vet or pre-med program. A few additional courses are required for admission to the MAT program or for veterinary or medical school admission.

The Marine Vertebrate Biology major is administered by the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, one of the leading oceanographic and atmospheric institutions in the nation.


The School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) is Stony Brook University's center for education, research, and public service in the ocean, atmospheric, and environmental sciences. Housed within the SoMAS are the Marine Sciences Research Center (MSRC) and the Institute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres (ITPA). MSRC is the only state-designated center for marine research, education, and public outreach within the State University of New York system. The SoMAS is one of the nation's leading coastal oceanographic and atmospheric institutions,  and the expertise of the SoMAS faculty places SBU at the forefront of addressing and answering questions about regional environmental problems, as well as problems relating to the global ocean and atmosphere. The primary focus of the SoMAS faculty is on fundamental research designed to increase understanding of the processes that characterize the coastal ocean and the atmosphere. The SoMAS is also committed to applying the results of research to solve problems arising from society's uses and misuses of the environment. The SoMAS also includes mission-oriented institutes in several major areas: the Institute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres, the Living Marine Resources Institute, the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, the Long Island Groundwater Resource Institute, and the Waste Reduction and Manage­ment Institute. The institutes and many research projects add a wealth of varied resources to education and research at Stony Brook.

The SoMAS offers undergraduate majors in atmospheric and oceanic sciences, environmental studies, marine sciences, and marine vertebrate biology, and minors in environmental studies and marine sciences. See the separate entries for atmospheric and oceanic sciences (ATM), environmental studies (ENS), and marine sciences (MAR) in the alphabetical listings of Approved Majors, Minors, and Programs. The SoMAS also offers several cooperative programs in both marine and environmental sciences with departments in the College of Arts and Sciences (Chemistry, Geosciences) and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (Chemical and Molecu­lar Engineering).

Research opportunities in marine scien­ces, atmospheric sciences, and waste manage­ment are available to undergraduates. Information on research opportunities may be found by contacting faculty directly or on the SoMAS Web site at http://www.somas.stonybrook.edu

All students should consult with the director of undergraduate studies to design and approve an acceptable course of study before declaring the major.