Requirements for the Major in Marine Vertebrate Biology (MVB)

The major in Marine Vertebrate Biology leads to a Bachelor of Science degree. Completion of the major requires between 69 and 74 credits. Of these no more than one course (4 credits) with a grade lower than C can be credited to the major.

1. Foundation Courses (43-46 credits)

  • BIO 201 Organisms to Ecosystems
  • BIO 202 Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • BIO 203 Cellular and Organ Physiology
  • BIO 204 Fundamentals of Scientific Inquiry in the Biological Sciences I
  • BIO 205 Fundamentals of Scientific Inquiry in the Biological Sciences IIA (see Note 3) 
  • CHE 131/CHE 133, CHE 132/CHE 134 General Chemistry and Lab (see Note 4 and Note 6)
  • CHE 321 Organic Chemistry (see Note 5 and Note 6)
  • MAT 125, MAT 126 Calculus (See Note 1). If students do not place into MAT 125 or 131 on the basis of the math placement examination, MAT 123 is a required course for the major.
  • ENS 119/PHY 119 Physics for Environ­mental Studies and MAR 352 Intro­duction to Physical Oceanography, or PHY 121, PHY 122 Physics for Life Sciences and labs (see Note 2)
  • AMS 102 or AMS 110 Statistics

2. Zoology and Marine Vertebrate Core (13 credits)

Two of the following:

  • MAR 370 Marine Mammals
  • MAR 373 Apex Predators
  • MAR 376 Biology and Conservation of Sea Turtles
  • MAR 377 Biology and Conservation of Seabirds  
  • MAR 380 Ichthyology

3. Marine Biology (12-14 credits)

Three electives from below:

  • BIO 328 Mammalian Physiology
  • BIO 343 Invertebrate Zoology
  • BIO 351 Ecology
  • BIO 359 Behavioral Ecology
  • MAR 301 Environmental Microbiology or MAR 302 Marine Microbial Ecology
  • MAR 303 Long Island Marine Habitats
  • MAR 305 Experimental Marine Biology
  • MAR 315 Conservation Biology
  • MAR 366 Plankton Ecology
  • MAR 375 Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rehabilitation
  • MAR 384 Diseases of Aquatic Organisms
  • MAR 385 Fisheries Biology
  • MAR 386 Ecosystem Science for Fisheries Management
  • MAR 394 Environmental Toxicology and Public Health
  • MAR 487 Research or MAR 488 Internship (maximum of three credits can be used for required elective)

Other classes may be substituted with permission of undergraduate director

4. Upper-Division Writing Requirement

The advanced writing component of the major in ​MVB requires registration in the 0-credit  MAR 459 and approval of either a term paper or a laboratory report written for an advanced course in ​the appropriate major at Stony Brook (including Readings and Research courses). Completion of MAR 459 (or BIO 459) with a grade of S will result in approval of the WRTD requirement. A list of preapproved courses can be found at 

For MVB majors, successful completion of BIO 459 will also be accepted.
Students who wish to use material from a participating course should obtain the necessary form and present it to the course director prior to submission of the material. The course director will grade the material and assign a grade for the appropriate section of MAR 459.

Students should consult with the department advisor to ensure that their plan for completing the Upper Division Writing Requirement is consistent with university graduation requirements for General Education. Students completing the Stony Brook Curriculum (SBC) must complete a course that satisfies the "Write Effectively within One's Discipline" (WRTD) learning objective to graduate. The Upper Division Writing Requirement is consistent in most cases with the SBC learning outcomes for WRTD.

1. MAT 131, MAT 132 or MAT 141, MAT 142 or MAT 171 may be substituted for MAT 125, MAT 126
2. PHY 125, PHY 126, PHY 127 or PHY 131/PHY 133, PHY 132/PHY 134 or PHY 141, PHY 142 may be substituted for the two-semester physics sequences listed above
3. BIO 207 may be substituted for BIO 205
4. CHE 129/130 may be substituted for CHE 131. CHE 152 may be substituted for CHE 131+132.
5. CHE 331 may be substituted for CHE 321.
6. CHE 152, 154, 331 may be substituted for CHE 131/132/133/134/321.

Bachelor of Science Degree in Marine Vertebrate Biology/Master of Science Degree in Marine Vertebrate Biology

Students interested in this program, intended to prepare students for professional employment or graduate school in the field of marine vertebrate biology and marine science, may apply for admission at the end of the junior year. Students in this combined B.S./M.S. program may complete both degrees in 10 semesters plus two summers (although the exact timing will depend on the student’s progress on the research thesis). Entry in the combined B.S./M.S. program is contingent upon a student identifying a thesis advisor, so students should seek out research experience in the laboratories of prospective advisor prior to the end of their junior year. During the fourth year, students take a mixture of undergraduate and graduate courses (6-12 credits). After the 8 th semester (during the summer), students begin M.S. level research. During the fifth year, students complete the remaining graduate requirements for the M.S., likely needing  the following summer to complete the research project. The two to four 500-level MAR courses taken during the senior year may be counted toward required or elective requirements of the undergraduate Marine Science major. Please visit the SoMAS website  for further information on the Marine Sciences programs.

Honors Program in Marine Vertebrate Biology

Graduation with departmental honors in Marine Vertebrate Biology requires the following:
1. Students are eligible to participate in the Honors Program if they have a 3.50 GPA in all courses for the major by the end of the junior year. Students should apply to the SoMAS undergraduate director for permission to participate.
2. Students must prepare an honors thesis based on a research project written in the form of a paper for a scientific journal. A student interested in becoming a candidate for honors should submit an outline of the proposed thesis research project to the SoMAS undergraduate director as early as possible, but no later than the second week of classes in the last semester. The student will be given an oral examination in May on his or her research by his or her research supervisor and the undergraduate research committee. The awarding of honors requires the recommendation of this committee and recognizes superior performance in research and scholarly endeavors. The written thesis must be submitted before the end of the semester in which the student is graduating.
3. If the student maintains a GPA of 3.5 in all courses in their major through senior year and receives a recommendation by the undergraduate research committee, he or she will receive departmental honors.