MEAS banner image Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Science banner image Lightning image
Sand banner image MEAS Home Page Map & Contact Search Site Map
About the Department Student Information People Research News and Announcements
'Student Information' banner image
Prospective Students:
> Undergraduate
Marine Sciences
Earth Sciences
Atmospheric Sciences
Transfer Students
Request Information
Marine Sciences
Earth Sciences
Atmospheric Sciences
Climate Change & Society
Graduate Handbook
Application Information
Current Students:
Career Information
Graduate Handbook
< Student Information
underwater imageExposure suit imageCape Hatteras Ship image

Undergraduate Marine Science
What do marine scientists do?
Marine scientists explore all aspects of the seas, seeking to understand how the oceans, their biological communities, the solid earth, and the atmosphere interact. Chemical oceanographers study such things as how minerals on land weather into salts and enter the ocean, how chemicals in seawater interact and react, how organic material created by plants survives in the ocean and is buried in sediments deep below the sea surface (and thereby subtracts greenhouse gases from the atmosphere), and how major elements cycle through the ocean. Geological oceanographers are concerned with plate tectonics and how new crust is formed below the ocean, with the formation and evolution of marine sediments and coastlines, and with reconstruction of ancient environments from fossils and minerals found in the seafloor. Marine meteorologists work to better understand air-sea interactions such as the exchange of gases, nutrients, heat and water across the air sea interface. Marine meteorologists also study weather over the ocean, including hurricanes. Physical oceanographers map bodies of water and model water motion to better our understanding of how the movement of seawater affects the transfer of heat, of inorganic and organic materials, and of plant cells and animal larvae from one part of the world to another. Biological oceanographers explore the biological systems of the marine realm, seeking to establish the interconnections between organisms and their physical regime, nutrient flux, and geologic setting. For instance, in near-surface waters they use water motions and the distribution of light and nutrients to estimate how much plant productivity the ocean can sustain, or explore how the passage of hurricanes affects transport of crab and fish larvae from offshore into estuarine nursery habitats, or how algal physiology and behavior interact with water transport and nutrient supply to generate toxic red tides. In the deep sea, they are studying what sustains the biological communities that thrive at seafloor spreading centers in darkness and high pressures, and how the animals or their larvae colonize new hot-spots.

Opportunities for marine science majors at NC State
The Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at NCSU offers BS degrees in Marine Sciences with emphases in Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Meteorology, and Physics. Our goal is to train scientists with a solid grounding in their discipline of emphasis, but whose broad exposure to the other Marine Science disciplines allows them to recognize and integrate the effects of complex interactions between sea, solid earth and atmosphere. By incorporating a few additional courses into a carefully-planned program, our students can earn two B.S. degrees--one in Marine Science and another in a life science, chemistry, geology, meteorology or physics.

Most important are the 30+ MEAS faculty, dedicated to the training of students, discovery of new knowledge, and service to the public. We occupy a modern teaching and research building, and are partners in NCSU's coastal facility, CMAST. Our libraries (with Natural Resources shelved in our building) offer world-class on-line services. State-of-the-art technology, dedicated instructional time on oceanographic vessels, and numerous field stations facilitate "real-world" training. All marine science majors go to sea aboard ocean going vessels before they graduate.

The demand for scientists with broad vision is rising as government agencies and businesses discover that the global environment, like the global economy, is truly interconnected. Current emphasis on ocean policy underscores the need for more knowledge and better forecasting for the oceans. Marine scientists are tasked with increasing the scientific knowledge base, and as professionals with interdisciplinary training are needed to advise business, industry and governments on wise use of marine resources and potential impacts of human activities. Marine scientists work for:

Consulting firms
Regulatory agencies
Mass media
Federal, state and local governments
Academic laboratories
Research and educational organizations
Non-profit environmental watchdog groups

Examples of career opportunities are:
Modeling, predicting and publicizing weather
Predicting and mitigating natural disasters
Managing coastal zones that have dynamic geology
Monitoring pollution
Managing marine resources
Researching sustainable fisheries

Educational Requirements
A strong high school foundation in the natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, earth sciences), mathematics (analytic geometry and calculus), and in communication skills (speaking and writing) is essential.

Undergraduate Marine Science Degree Programs:
Biological Oceanography Concentration
Chemistry Concentration
Geology Concentration
Meteorology Concentration
Physics Concentration
See also Natural Resources- Marine and Coastal Resources (NRC)

» For information on undergraduate programs, contact:
Maggie Puryear
Assistant Director of Undergraduate Programs | tel: 919-513-1093

College of Sciences home page border image NCSU home page