Four students at the shore collecting samples amongst the seaweed and kelp.

Bachelor of Science In Marine and Coastal Sciences

One student holds a cylinder cup in a pouring position. Another with long blonde hair holds a flask-like container beneath the cup. Both are on a boat wearing life jackets.

About the Program

The B.S. in Marine and Coastal Science (MACS) is a new cohort-based, interdisciplinary, and experiential program designed to provide students with the opportunity to engage in coastal and marine-focused research.

Active learning experiences help students develop into confident, thoughtful, ethical scientists who are ready to address the growing challenges affecting marine and coastal environments.

Each year, a new cohort of students begins the program, engaging in hands-on research and learning experiences in and around the Salish Sea, with opportunities for focused, residential study at Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center (SPMC) in Anacortes, about an hour from the main campus.

Program Features

Study Marine Science Across Disciplines

The new MACS major is a partnership between three existing academic departments (Biology, Geology, Chemistry, and Environmental Sciences) and Shannon Point Marine Center. You will have a unique opportunity to study marine science in an environment of interdisciplinary collaboration.

Erin examining a crustacean at the shore.

Learn, Work, And Thrive Together

Study marine science as a cohort, beginning with an early research experience upon program admissions, and continuing through the 3rd year with the core course series, and culminating with a capstone project in your final year.

Four students work at a lab table with microscopes, big sheets of paper, and buckets on top.

Gain Research Experience

You will have opportunities to engage in mentored, hands-on research opportunities in your sophomore year through immersive study at the marine center in Anacortes, Washington.

Access to Marine Labs And On Research Vessels

Spend time in the field, on oceanographic vessels, and in learning laboratories. Engage deeply in marine research and focused study of the Salish Sea.

Admissions Information

Once per year, the program admits a new cohort of approximately 30 students. Students begin the major as a cohort in the spring with MACS 210: Introduction to Marine and Coastal Science Research. Students then move together throughout the major core classes, starting with MACS 301: Marine and Geological Processes in the fall.

The admissions application opens annually in November and closes on January 15th. Students apply on our website by submitting an online application. Typically, students will apply during fall quarter of their sophomore year.

Eligibility Requirements To Apply

Students are eligible to apply for admissions to the major when they have completed or will complete by the end of spring quarter all of the major preparatory courses listed:

  • MATH 124 – Calculus and Analytic Geometry I
  • MATH 125 – Calculus and Analytic Geometry II
  • CHEM 161 – General Chemistry I
  • CHEM 162 – General Chemistry II
  • CHEM 163 – General Chemistry III
  • GEOL 211 – Physical Geology
  • BIOL 204 – Introduction to Evolution, Ecology, & Biodiversity
  • PHYS 161 – Physics with Calculus I

How to Prepare

Step 1. Update Program of Interest to MACS

If you decide to pursue Marine and Coastal Science as your major, update your academic/program of interest in WEB4U to receive relevant updates, and stay connected with the program and the marine science community.

Step 2. Meet With MACS Advisor

Schedule a meeting with our program advisor to learn more about the major and preparatory courses, as well as the admissions process, including timeline and application requirements.

Step 3. Complete Preparatory Courses

Enroll in, and complete preparatory courses for the major, in Math, Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and Physics.

Step 4. Apply to the Major

Upon nearing completion of your preparatory courses, apply to the major by the program admissions deadline (Jan 15th). Applications will be accepted on the MACS website.

Step 5. Start The Major

Upon admissions, enroll in MACS 210 (if you didn’t participate in the MSS program) in spring and start the major core series in the fall, starting with MACS 301, followed by MACS 302 and 303 in winter and spring. Flesh out your degree program through a variety of elective courses focused on your goals and interests.