Marine and Coastal Science Undergrad Major

Marine & Coastal Science Undergraduate Major

Students in the MCS Major
Photo by Karin Higgins - UC Davis

The Marine & Coastal Science Undergraduate Major was established in 2013 and is designed to build upon existing strengths present in three colleges at UC Davis: Letters & Sciences, Biological Sciences, and Agricultural & Environmental Sciences.

The major emphasizes the interdisciplinary nature of marine sciences by exposing students to the full spectrum of disciplines that constitute modern marine science and policy. We also emphasize hands-on experiences as interns or researchers, with many MCS students spending time in residence at Bodega Marine Laboratory.

Meet A Marine and Coastal Science Major:

A woman sitting on a brick sign that says "UC Davis", wearing a white dress and a gold graduation stole

"I came into this university as an undeclared, first-generation student with little idea of what my path was going to look like and what resources were available to me. When I stumbled into the Marine and Coastal Science major at the wrap of my freshman year, a fire was lit in my belly that kindled my passion for marine science, climate change, and the translation of science into policy (or lack thereof).

Not only was I readily welcomed by a supportive community who further inspired me, but the interdisciplinary nature of the major kept me on my toes and challenged me to think beyond my focus. The meaningful connections I formed with my professors in combination with my involvement with Bodega Marine Laboratory enriched my undergraduate experience and rendered it truly life-changing." 

- Anyela Gonzalez Casillas

2020 Graduate, Marine and Coastal Science major with a focus in Oceans and the Earth System

Focus Areas in the Marine and Coastal Science Major

The MCS Major is a truly interdisciplinary course of study, drawing on the strengths of three colleges within UC Davis: Letters & SciencesBiological Sciences, and Agricultural & Environmental Sciences.

The four focus areas in the major are:

Coastal Environmental Processes
Marine Ecology & Organismal Biology
Marine Environmental Chemistry
Oceans and the Earth System

In the Field and on the Coast

Discovery takes place not just within the classroom, but also in the field—on the beach with the surf racing over the sand, on a wind-swept bluff or in a tidal marsh. We challenge students to explore phenomena such as how animal populations are distributed along the shore and how water quality effects marine and estuarine life. Back in our laboratories on the main campus and at the Bodega Marine Laboratory, they take the driver's seat to pursue research using state-of-the-art instruments and technology.

Students in the MCS Major
Photo by Gregory Urquiaga - UC Davis


This short video is about the BIS 124 - Coastal Marine Research course, in which students gain practical, hands-on experience conducting their own research project on a topic of their choice related to EVE 114 (Experimental Invertebrate Biology). Explore more undergraduate research projects from Eric Sanford's BIS 124 course, including several winners of the UC Davis Research Rockstars Undergrad Slam Video Contest

Explore More On Our Blog

Ask A Grad Student


In the monthly blog series, "Ask A Grad Student", created by the Graduate Student Affairs Committee (GSAC), Undergraduates in the Marine and Coastal Science major get the opportunity to ask their questions to Grad Students in the Marine and Coastal Sciences.

 Where Do Our Grads Go?


Graduation Cap

Here's where a few of the 2020 and 2021 Marine and Coastal Science Major Graduates are headed next:

"After graduating, I will be doing a summer internship at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute before starting my Ph.D. in the fall at the University of Southern California in the Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography program! I plan to mentor other first-generation college students like me and increase diversity in my field." 

- Tina Nguyen, Class of 2020

Camille Frias
Camille Frias

"This next year I'm actually going to be working as a behavioral therapist for children on the autism spectrum. Eventually, I hope to go back to school for my Master's in Education and work as a high school Chemistry and Marine science teacher!”

- Camille Frias, Class of 2020

"This fall I will be starting law school at The University of San Francisco to pursue a career in Environmental Law! One of my favorite memories in this major was spending 6 weeks at BML last summer. It was so much fun and Bodega was beautiful!"

- Amanda Outcalt, Class of 2020

Alexandra Chu
Alexandra Chu

"Next year I'll be working in the Johnson-Jeffres Lab at the Center for Watershed Science studying chinook salmon. After that, I hope to get my Master's studying the effects of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals."

- Alexandra Chu, Class of 2020



"Currently, I’m looking forward to one more field season this summer in Mo’orea, where I’ll be aiding the Bay Lab with some coral research. Then I’m off to work for Eco Alpha as an environmental technician, and eventually I plan to return to school for a masters in genetics!"

-Camille Rumberger, Class of 2021

"After graduating, I plan to work as a junior specialist for the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences to further my knowledge of aquatic life."

-Francheska Torres, Class of 2021

"I’ll be spending the summer working with the Rypel lab surveying high elevation Sierra lake food webs and getting my scientific diving certification at BML. In the fall, I’ll be looking for field tech positions in coral ecology or kelp restoration."

-Isaiah Bluestein, Class of 2021

"For the next year, I will be working as a research assistant at Friday Harbor Labs. I will be working on a project aiming to understand how to rear Pycnopodia helianthoides, the sunflower seastar, in captivity so that we can one day reintroduce them along the Pacific coast. I am so thrilled to continue learning about marine life."

-Michael Brito, Class of 2021

"Next year I will be attending California State University, Northridge to pursue a master's degree in biology, focusing on the impacts of multiple environmental stressors on marine organisms  I hope to engage in future research on marine ecosystems that includes communities and policy."

-Robert Dellinger, Class of 2021