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Marine Science

Applications for Tier 2 course (Summer 2022) now available. Stay tuned for Tier 3 courses.

A limited number of spots are available in each course in order to maintain a low student-instructor ratio. Please apply as soon as possible to receive consideration for a spot in your desired program(s). For inquiries, please email UCSD Pre-College Programs ( and

The following programs are designed to empower high school students to share learning, network with peers, and become environmental advocates. The goal of this program is to develop problem solving, organization, creative thinking, communication, collaboration, and leadership skills that will support future career goals and aspirations.

Tier 1 courses offer students a foundation in ocean sciences, specifically marine biology and related disciplines. Students will explore the diversity of life and how biological, chemical and physical processes drive ecosystem dynamics in a marine environment. Each course is designed to target relevant, contemporary environmental issues while providing a pathway for students to participate in our Tier 2, research workshops. Tier 1 courses are also designed for students who are simply interested in learning more about the marine environment and associated marine science career pathways.

Tier 1 Courses are currently offered online. These 4 or 8 week courses are designed to acclimate students to a university summer and quarter systems, respectively. Each week, students will have 2 asynchronous, interactive and gamified lessons. Synchronous sessions are designed for student collaboration and discussion, guest speaker interactions, and guided virtual lab experiences. These courses are aimed to foster next generation critical thinkers, communicators, creators and stewards of the ocean environment.

Tier 2 courses offer students a multidisciplinary practical research experience in collaboration with Scripps Institution of Oceanography graduate students and other active marine science researchers in various industries. Students will partner with researchers and can participate in, design and run their own projects on California Coastal Ecology, Coral Reef Ecology and Restoration, Animal Physiology, Thermodynamics, Metabolics, and Fisheries Science to name a few. Field-based excursions to intertidal zones, salt marshes, and other marine ecosystems in San Diego are an integral part of this program; however, some projects are also adapted with an at-home lab component for non-local students.

Tier 3 courses offer students that have participated in one or more Tier 2 courses the opportunity to practice critical literacy skills specifically needed in scientific writing, and publish studies in our Marine Science, Research Scholars Journal. The purpose of Tier 2 and 3 workshops is to participate in scientific studies that generate data needed to advocate for the environment and the communities that rely on a healthy system.

Tier 1 Courses

Introduction to Marine Science (Fall 2022 - ONLINE)

Introduction to Marine Science (Click here to apply)

Dates:  September 27, 2022 - November 15, 2022  (ONLINE)
Tuition: $2,000
Grade Level: 9-12th grade
Instructor: Nicole Yen

  • Synchronous 
    • Tuesday (4-5:20 PM PST)
  • Asynchronous - 2 lessons / week

The Introduction to Marine Science course is designed to expose students to the processes, functions, and life forms of Earth’s incredible ocean environment. Students will develop a comprehensive foundation in biological, chemical, and physical oceanography by examining major taxonomic groups of marine organisms, important marine ecosystems and habitats, and by exploring current research and applied careers. Through interactive lectures, labs, and discussions, students will gain a basic understanding and appreciation of the ocean community and how it relates to their own lives. This course is available for 4 pre-college units.

Topics Include

  • Fundamentals of Oceanography
  • Introduction to Organismal Biology
  • Marine Ecosystem Diversity and Services
  • Marine Conservation and Marine Science Careers 

Click here for optional lab supplies

Tier 2 Courses

Advanced Marine Biodiversity: Life on the Edge (Summer 2022 - In Person)

Advanced Marine Biodiversity: Life on the Edge (Click here to apply)

Dates: July 5 - 29, 2022 (In-Person)
Grade Level:
9th - 12th grade

Monday-Friday 1:00pm - 5:00pm (Class/Lecture/Lab)

The rocky intertidal is one of the most accessible marine coastal environments teeming with an incredibly diverse living community. Because of this unique quality it has immense commercial, recreational, and educational value to communities worldwide. However, this quality also makes these habitats highly susceptible to changing ocean conditions such as sea-level rise, invasive species, and pollution.

Monitoring intertidal ecosystems becomes increasingly important as we continue to see global climate changes. In this Tier 2 course, students will be part of ongoing research in partnership with the National Park Service at Cabrillo National Monument. With the support of mentors, students will plan, run, analyze, and communicate results to the San Diego community.

We will focus on 3 research topics:

  • Thermodynamics: Explore how heat transfers between organisms and their environment using a FLIR thermal camera. Relate this data to organismal anatomy, physiology, thermoregulation, species adaptability, ecology, or climate change. 
  • Molecular Genetics: Extract and sequence DNA from various intertidal organisms, build phylogenetic trees to examine evolutionary relationships. Utilize environmental DNA (eDNA) methodology to explore applications of technique.
  • Ecology: Assess water quality at Cabrillo National Monument tide pools and correlate data to population dynamics and structure of the ecologically important species at the park.


Option 1: Take our Tier 1 Intro to Marine Science OR Life on the Edge online course.

Option 2: Have taken an advanced biology, environmental science, or marine science course prior to the start of our program.

*This is not a residential program. This course is commuter based. 

Tier 3 Courses

Other Program Information

Marine Science Application

Students can access the application from the "Apply Now" tab here.

Marine Science Acceptance

Students will be notified of acceptance within 10 days of submitting their application until the program is full.

Marine Science Cancellation/Refund Policies


Cancellation or withdrawal for any reason 2 weeks prior to the course start date.

Refunds for cancellation or withdrawal after the 2 weeks deadline be issued for serious illness (doctor's certificate is required) or extenuating circumstances only. Tuition is not refunded for students who are dismissed from the program.



All refund requests must be made in writing to Maysoon Dong, Associate Director for the Education & Community Outreach Department at: You will receive a confirmation of your request. Refunds will take approximately 4-6 weeks to process. Refunds are issued in the same method of payment (check or charge) of payment to UC San Diego Academic Connections.

COVID Policies

For our students attending in-person programs, please keep in mind that all students and employees are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 (or submit an exemption) two weeks before arriving on campus for work or classes, per University of California policy. Public health is a collective effort. The UC San Diego community is expected to follow campus safety requirements to help prevent infection. These include masking indoors, daily symptom and exposure screening, testing, and vaccination.

To Learn More About UCSD’s Covid Policies and Return to Learn Updates please visit: UCSD Return To Learn

*If UCSD changes their policy on covid, we will shift our in-person courses to online.