Jump to content

What are my chances? - Marine Biology MSc

Recommended Posts

Hi all, this is my first post so I am hoping to get some good advice and realistic feedback.

First off, I struggled through college (mostly in the beginning) thanks to some issues of severe depression and anxiety.

Unfortunately, my GPA has suffered and although I managed good grades in the last two years, it averages out to a very underwhelming 2.99 (I also did a semester abroad, which with the pass/fail ranking did not help nudge my GPA up). *As a side note...does 2.99 round up to 3.0 or am I stuck at <3.0, which seems to be the cutoff for many schools even accepting applications*

If I could do it all over again...I would. I would just go through and re-do my lowest grades...but of course, time is of the essence. Or is it?

I have a deep passion for science, specifically marine biology (my UG major), as well as evolutionary biology (now there was a class where I got the top grade in the class, for once). Special interests for me are ornithology, fisheries, conservation...but really any field gets me going. I could not imagine doing anything other than biology...and so my dream is to continue in marine biology, or possible evo. bio. depending entirely on what school will accept me.

Which brings me to my current dilemma...I have absolutely zero confidence that any reputable grad school will accept me, thanks to my GPA, which is nothing to speak of. However, I do consider myself an intelligent, intellectual person - I have been lucky to travel to many different countries over the course of my life, as well as speak a second language fluently. I keep my sights on the important things and issues in life, and I dream about becoming a fully accredited marine biologist/zoologist/evo biologist somewhere down the road (hopefully sooner rather than later).

My boyfriend is someone who after serving in the military for 9 years, is just applying to undergrad programs in California. He has excellent chances of getting in where ever he wants - UCSB, UCSC, or UCSD are at the top of his lists (as well as mine in regards to grad school). I want to move out to CA with him and hopefully enter the same school he is at (or get another field job in the area).

To make a long story short, here's my question: What are my chances of getting in to the aforementioned schools in the fields I dream about? If they are meager, what do I need to do to increase my appeal? My initial (new) GRE score is 314. I excelled at verbal but ran out of time on both quantitative sections, and will be retaking it soon...

Thanks for reading my long post, and taking the time to answer! It is much appreciated!!!

P.S. As for field work experience, I have a good amount: Colorado, North Carolina, as well as Antarctica. Currently am working for the state's Division of Marine Fisheries as an observer. *Incidentally, does anyone know how much experience as a fisheries observer is worth towards grad school? I couldn't find any info on that before I accepted...*

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Paradisaeidae, you definitely have a chance at grad school and will get admitted somewhere, though it may not be UCSB, UCSC or UCSD. UCSB is my alma matter, and I also have a degree in marine science. UCSB's minimum GPA for grad school is 3.0. Even if they round up your GPA to 3.0, you will be competing against applicants with very strong GPA, test scores and similar work experience. I have strong ties at the the marine science institute there and have personally witnessed conversations between professors on the admission committee about borderline students. If it comes down to your package vs another student with a stronger package (grades, etc), admission is going to be given to the other student, because UCSB's marine biology program is highly desirable and competitive. Similarly this applies to UCSD (world renown Scripps Inst. of Oceanography) and UCSC, both exceptional marine biology schools. Also these schools typically will not take into account post-baccalaureate grades as part of your GPA calculation. Now if you can network and establish a strong connection with a professor that you are interested in working with, they may be willing to overlook some of your weak spots and waive certain admission requirements. Though this is seldom done.

While your chances at these top tier marine biology schools may not be as sunny as you had hoped, there are many other state schools in California with great marine biology programs. Check with San Diego State University, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Northridge, San Francisco State University, and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (associated with Cal State Schools- so you can apply through any Cal State). Part of applying to grad schools is managing your expectations and working with the assets that you have. Don't look back at and dwell on things you can't fix. Just look forward and work toward what you can accomplish now. I highly recommend that you check out the other state schools, if California is your destination. I realize that my advice is raw but I don't want to sugar-coat it because it would be a disservice to you. If you have further questions about UCSB, feel free to PM me.

Edited by TropicalCharlie
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you will definately get in somewhere and be able to persue your dream in marine bio. I would recommend just taking a few additional classes somewhere so your GPA is >= 3.0, just so you make the cutoffs that some schools employ.

I would highly recommend looking at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. Fantastic and well known school focusing on marine science research and fieldwork. You can apply through a number of CA state schools. I got my M.S there and found it to be an amazing program. I got in with a 3.2 GPA, + strong work experience and a undergrad pub. PM if you have any questions about the program or faculty.

I would also continue looking for RA jobs in marine bio. Lots of opportunities posted daily here.


I think if you can get a year or two of research experience, maybe be a coauthor on a publication you will be competative.

I know that if you are a NOAA fisheries observer for 6 months, they have a scholarship you can use for grad school. My friend just went this route and ended up at OSU. This can make your app much more competative. Plus the observer postiion pays very well, you could do that, save some money up and then apply.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.