Marine Mammal Science Degree Track

Marine Mammal Science Marine Mammal Science
Master of Professional Science

Marine mammal conservation has advanced significantly in recent years due to greater understanding of marine mammal biology, behavior, and psychology, and improved diagnostic methods.

The Marine Mammal Science MPS track is one of the select programs in the nation that prepares students for employment in marine mammal management, population assessments, acoustics, and care. Students interact with medical, research, and training experts in our community, as well as conduct an internship at one of our many marine mammal rehabilitation, managed care, or research facilities. As part of the practical training of the curriculum, students have the opportunity to participate in mark-recapture surveys, public education, wild health assessments, behavior analysis and modification studies, clinical care and diagnostics, necropsies, and regional and national conferences.


Bachelor’s degree in any field; one year of general biology and labs, one year of general chemistry, at least one semester of calculus, and nine credits in natural science. Research in these fields may, in some cases, substitute for coursework

Course topics:

marine mammal medicine and pathology, medical diagnostics and laboratory analysis, population assessment and management, state and federal regulations, applied ocean acoustics, research education, and applied behavior analysis.

Job titles:

  • Director of Marine Science Education
  • Stranding Technician
  • Marine Mammal Trainer
  • Veterinary Technician
  • Animal Behavior and Welfare Consultant
  • Marine Mammal Biologist


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  • Why is this track important?

    Studying and pursuing a career in marine mammal science carries significant importance as marine mammals serve as sentinel species that provide indication of overall ocean and human health. Since marine mammals are protected species who face many natural and anthropogenic threats, it is critical to learn how to study these organisms to develop and implement effective conservation and management strategies. Additionally, marine mammals often capture human interest, and thus they play a pivotal role in raising awareness around various conservation issues.

    Thus, the Marine Mammal Science track is a specialized track that will equip students with the strong background knowledge and applicable skills needed to pursue a career in this field. Students will learn about the biology, physiology, and ecology of all marine mammal taxa and learn about how they are studied, conserved, and managed. Students will also get the opportunity to learn and practice science communication, community engagement, and education. Coursework will integrate topics such as management, marine mammal medicine and pathology, health assessments, population assessments, state and federal regulations, applied ocean acoustics, research methodologies, and applied behavior analysis. Students will also be able to tailor their coursework and internship projects to match their specific interests within the field.

  • Why Miami?

    Located between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, the Rosenstiel campus offers a great location for studying local marine mammals in their natural environment. Beyond the opportunity to engage with a diverse array of experts and fields of study at the Rosenstiel School, we are also located near key marine mammal institutions such as the NOAA Southeast Fisheries Science Center, local stranding organizations, and facilities dedicated to marine mammal research, rescue, and rehabilitation. With all these local resources, students will get practical, hands-on experience with marine mammals in strandings, necropsies, training, observation, and research.

  • What can students do with this degree?

    An MPS degree in Marine Mammal Science will allow students to gain the transferable and applicable skills necessary to finding jobs in a variety of marine mammal fields. Many students will find employment opportunities with local and federal government agencies, non-profits, rescue and rehabilitation organizations, managed-care facilities, and research organizations. Additionally, some students may continue on a research path towards a PhD or those interested in aquatic veterinary science may attend veterinary school after the MPS program. Some example careers include stranding biologists at state and non-profit organizations, veterinary assistant and technicians, education and outreach specialists, science communication, field biologists at research institutions, marine mammal observers, and conservation and management policy positions with federal government organizations.

  • What makes this track unique?

    This track is unique because it is highly specialized and is one of the select programs in the nation designed specifically to prepare students for employment in a variety of marine mammal science fields. The goal of this track is to not only provide strong foundational knowledge, but also provide students with transferable and applicable skills needed to succeed in this field. As part of this practical training incorporated into the curriculum, students will directly interact and network with experts around the world as well as gain experience in scientific writing and communication, community engagement and outreach, acoustic analysis, behavioral analysis and ethograms, statistical analyses, necropsies, and analysis of stock assessments. Students may also get the opportunity to participate in strandings and rescue, wild health assessments, photo ID, clinical care and diagnostics, and regional and national conferences. Students will apply the knowledge and skills gained from their courses as they conduct their MPS internship at a variety of national or international managed care, rescue, rehabilitation, or research organizations. As a smaller track, students will receive personalized mentoring and training throughout the program and during the formation of their MPS project, proposal, and final report.

Track Leader

Dr. Maria C. Cartolano

Marine Mammal Science Track

(305) 284-6212
Maria Cartolano is a Lecturer of Marine Biology and Ecology at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science. She serves as the co-track coordinator for students in the Marine Mammal Science (MMS) track of the Masters of Professional Science (MPS) program. Her research interests include physiology, behavior, and toxicology and she is passionate about teaching and community outreach...

Plan Of Study Grid

Fall Course Title Credit Hours
MBE 604 Biology of Marine Mammals 3
RSM 612 or EVR 624

Statistics for Marine Scientists or Statistics and Data Analysis for Environmental Science and Policy

EVR 670 Conservation and Management of Marine Mammals 3
EVR 660
& EVR 661

Introduction to Marine Geographic Information Systems and Introduction to Marine Geographic Information Systems - Laboratory

RSM 700

Research Ethics

Credit Hours 12
Spring Course Title Credit Hours
MBE 605 Marine Mammal Disease and Medicine 3
MBE 746
or EVR 645

Marine Population Biology: Processes and Modeling or Marine Population Assesment Surveys and Analysis

MBE 606

Procedures in Marine Mammal Health and Disease *

MBE 607 Marine Mammal Applied Behavior Analysis and Managed Care * 3
OCE 651 Applied Ocean Acoustics and Marine Mammals * 3
Credit Hours 13
Summer Course Title Credit Hours
MBE 632 Marine Mammal Research Techniques * 3
MBE 805 MPS Internship 1 2-6
Credit Hours 5
Total Credit Hours  30

*  or Elective

1  Enrollment in 2 - 6 internship credits required during a student's time in MPS. Completion of less than 2 internship credits must be approved by MPS Director. Students may enroll in more than 6 internship credits with the approval of the Program Director. Typically 2 semesters are needed to complete all aspects of the internship phase of MPS.

Elective Options

Students may request elective courses with the consent of their Academic Advisor. Refer to the course schedules for a list of classes available on the Rosenstiel School campus. The course offerings may vary from semester to semester. For more details, visit the UM Academic Bulletin.