CSU Marine Biology Semester:

Marine Biology Semester - California State University


Marine Biology Semester
Santa Catalina Island
FALL 2014
25 August 2014 - 5 December 2014
(Thanksgiving Break November 27th - 30th )

If you are interested in attending the Fall 2013 Catalina Semester,
please fill out the following Application Form Fall 2014!

Quick Links:

Overview - Facilities - Costs - Courses - Instructors - Forms - Photos

Application and additional information can be obtained by contacting:

Mr. Tom Chavez or Miss Adriana Bell
CSU Marine Biology Semester at Catalina
Ocean Studies Institute
820 S. Seaside Ave
Terminal Island, CA 90731-7330

Applications will be taken until all open spaces are filled. Qualified students are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The CSU Marine Biology Semester is an Upper divison program that is designed for students who have completed their lower disvision coursework in Biology. For Fall 2014, after screening by the OSI faculty, registration will be through California State University Northridge (CSUN). CSUN students will register directly through that campus. Other CSU students will need to fill out the Intrasystem Visitor Enrollment form, which will enable registration through CSUN. Units may then be transferred to the appropriate campus. Non-CSU students will need to register through CSUN’s Open University Program.

  • Completed Application Form Fall 2014, available here or by email
  • Official college or university transcripts
  • The e-mail address of a faculty member you have asked to provide a letter of recommendation
  • $50 application fee payable to USC/SCMI. This fee is non-refundable.


This semester-long program provides an intensive undergraduate exposure to marine biology, and is designed for students with a serious commitment to environmental and marine science. The program is based at the Wrigley Marine Science Center (WMSC), situated on Santa Catalina Island, 26 miles from Los Angeles, CA. This location provides access to beautiful, pristine marine habitats, diverse marine life and breathtaking island views. WMSC is owned and operated by the University of Southern California (USC), and the program is being offered through the California State Universities, affiliated with the Ocean Studies Institute (OSI) and the Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI).

“My time in Catalina was invaluable to my development as a student and as a person. I learned much more than information from a book, I learned how to think for myself and solve problems. The Catalina semester played a crucial role in my decision to attend graduate school, something that I’d never thought I could do. The memories and friendships I’ve made will always hold a special place in my heart. I recommend this trip to anyone looking for an amazing educational experience that will shape the outcome of your future.”
Mari Rosales 2003

Students will spend 15 weeks on Santa Catalina Island and will be based in the newly-renovated dormitory and laboratory facilities. Residency at this marine laboratory provides ready access to an invigorating educational environment that provides both state-of-the-art laboratory facilities and ready access to a diversity of marine habitats. Throughout the semester, students are introduced to a sequence of courses (Fall 2014: Marine Biology, Invertebrate Zoology, and Ecology of Marine Fishes ) that prepare them to complete a directed research study in a topic of their choice. All courses provide a strong element of hands-on field experience, which provides the comprehensive training that can help in career choices and graduate decisions. A research diving certification course is planned for a two-week period before the semester begins from July to August, at an additional cost for qualified students who wish to dive on SCUBA during the semester. However, only snorkeling skills are required for class participation. Please note: these courses will occupy daytime and in many cases, evening hours, including some weekends.

Catalina Semester Brochure 2014


“Deciding to do the Catalina Semester was the best decision of my college career! It immerses you into the marine biology world - and it gave me research and field experience that helped me both get and do my job. It was an all-around amazing experience!”
Allysa Floyd 2005

at the Wrigley Marine Science Center

Students live on a private and undeveloped portion of Santa Catalina Island, approximately 40-50 minutes’ walk from the Two Harbors settlement which provides access to the commercial ferry to Los Angeles. On-site accommodations are residential dormitory-style, and students receive three meals a day. The laboratory is a short walk from the dorms and includes teaching labs and a well-equipped lecture auditorium. Daily instruction consists of lectures, lab work, and field work in nearby marine habitats. SCUBA diving can be accommodated through the OSI Scientific Diving Program which operates within the framework of the AAUS diving program.

“I have never had a more challenging or rewarding experience. I really got a jump start on the knowledge I will need for my future career goals. The professors, classes, and facilities are all amazing and make learning all the difficult material much easier and more satisfying. Meeting people with similar passions and interests as yourself really starts a spark down deep inside of you to work harder for what you want to get out of this world.”
Dani Estes 2012

Projected Costs*

A. Tuition (15 semester units)*
CSU Undergraduate student $ 3,272
CSU Graduate Student $ 3,905
Non-CSU Student  $ 8,700
Non-CA Residents $ 8,852
B. Board and Lodging
(Same for all students) $ 4,449
C. Lab and Facility Fees
CSU and students from other CA universities $ 861
Students from out-of-state universities $ 5,129


  • All Costs for Fall 14′ are subject to change.
  • CSU Students who are non-CA residents are subject to CSU Out-of-State tuition fees.
  • Two round-trip passages to the island are included (at the start and end of the semester, and over Thanksgiving).
  • There will be additional costs for books, dissecting equipment, library privileges and personal field equipment.

OSI Courses - Fall 2014
(upper division)

Marine Biology
(Biol 421/L; 592B: 4 units)

August 25th - September 19th

Marine life of the world with special emphasis on the shore and shallow seas. Identification, distribution, physiological and morphological adaptation of marine forms at Santa Catalina Island.

Instructor: Dr. Steven R. Dudgeon

Ecology of Marine Fishes
(Biol 531/L; 592Q: 4 units)

September 22nd - October 17th

This course covers species assemblages, general ecology, and behavioral ecology of the marine fishes of Catalina and the surrounding waters.  

Instructor: Dr. Mark Steele and Dr. Larry Allen

Marine Invertebrate Zoology
(Biol 313/L; 392B: 4 units)

October 20th - November 14th

This course provides a classical over-view of marine invertebrate diversity, structure and function through a combination of lecture, lab and field experiences.

Instructor: Dr. Peter Edmunds

Directed Undergraduate Research
(Biol 490/495:1, 3 units)

November 17th - December 5th

Students develop their ideas during the first 12 weeks of the semester, prepare a research proposal, complete their studies, and present their findings in a mini-symposium and a report.

Instructor: Drs. Steven R. Dudgeon, Larry Allen, Peter Edmunds, and Mark Steele

Directed  Research

A student may request to take 4 units as a combination of 490 or 495, with the consent of the instructors, to replace one of the three 4-unit classes if the student has already taken that class.

Instructors - Fall 2014

Dr. Larry G. Allen (Marine Biology) received his Ph.D. in 1980 from the University of Southern California and has been on the faculty at CSUN since 1982. His research has focused on the biogeography and ecology of California coastal marine fishes.

Dr. Steven R. Dudgeon (Marine Biology) received his PhD from the University of Maine in 1992. His research interests focus on the unique biological features of clonal algae and invertebrates, the evolution of life history and morphological traits and how these traits influence the dynamics of the communities in which they live. The temperate rocky intertidal zone is the experimental system used to explore these concepts.

Dr. Mark A. Steele (Ecology of Marine Fishes) received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1995 and joined the faculty at CSUN this 2005. His research involves the contributions of predation, competition, and recruitment to population regulation of temperate and tropical reef fishes.

Dr. Peter J. Edmunds (Invertebrate Zoology) received his Ph.D. in 1986 from University of Glasgow and has been on the faculty at CSUN since 1992. His research focuses on the physiological ecology of temperate and tropical reef invertebrates and corals.


CSU Marine Biology Semester Forms

Application Form Fall 2014

Catalina Semester Brochure 2014

Catalina Semester Photos: