CSU Marine Biology Catalina Semester

FALL 2023 Marine Biology Semester
Santa Catalina Island


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 15 week 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).

Throughout the semester, students are introduced to a sequence of courses 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. Please note: these courses will occupy daytime and in many cases, evening hours, including some weekends.

Spots are currently filled for the Fall 2023 Semester. Please check back in January 2024 for the Fall 2024 Semester.

Application Materials:

  • Completed Catalina Semester Application
  • Unofficial College Transcripts
  • Letter of recommendation from faculty member

Qualified students are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The CSU Marine Biology Semester is an Upper division program that is designed for students who have completed their lower division coursework in Biology. For Fall 2023, after screening by the CSULB faculty, registration will be through California State University Long Beach (CSULB). CSULB 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 CSULB. Units may then be transferred to the appropriate campus. Non-CSU students will need to register through CSULB Open University Program.

Optional Prerequisites:

AAUS SCUBA Certification Course – A two-week AAUS SCUBA certification course is available 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.

Motorboat Operating Training Course (MOTC) – This one week course will be required if you plan on operating small vessels while at CSU Catalina Semester. This course is free for all CSU/OSI students.

These prerequisites courses will be available during the summer. They are not required to participate in the CSU Catalina Semester however may be helpful to students while conducting their directed research projects. For additional information on the courses please contact OSI Dive & Boat Safety Officer Darrell Montague: Darrell.Montague@csulb.edu

Application and additional information can be obtained by contacting:

CSU Marine Biology Semester at Catalina
Ocean Studies Institute
820 S. Seaside Ave
San Pedro, CA 90731-7330

Projected Costs – FALL 2023

A. Tuition (15 Unit Semester)*
CSU Undergraduate Student (CA Resident) $3,494.00*
CSU Graduate Student (CA Resident) $4,211.00*
Non-CSU Student & Non-CA Residents $9,434.00*
B. Board, Lodging, & Facility Fees*
(Same for all students) $7,037.00*

*Note: These are prices for Fall 2023. Fall 2024 rates are not available at this time.

Additionally, costs for are subject to change based on yearly tuition rates. 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: 
(Upper Division)

Marine Ichthyology
(OSI 419: 4 units)

A course covering species assemblages, general ecology, and behavioral ecology of the marine fishes of Catalina Island and the surrounding waters.

Instructor: Dr. Darren Johnson

Marine Ecological Processes
(OSI 455: 4 units)

This course provides a discussion of field studies on ecological principles related to marine communities of Catalina Island.

Instructor: Dr. Bengt Allen

Marine Phycology
(OSI 425: 4 units)

This course covers the taxonomy, morphology, physiology, and ecology of the major algal groups.

Instructor: Dr. Christopher Janousek

Undergraduate Directed Research
(OSI 496: 3 semester units)

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.

Instructors: Dr. Bengt Allen & Dr. Darren Johnson

Instructors – 

Dr. Darren Johnson  (Marine Ichthyology) received his Ph.D. from Oregon State University in 2009 and has been on the faculty of CSULB since 2013. His research focuses on population dynamics and evolutionary ecology of nearshore fishes and invertebrates.

Dr. Bengt J. Allen (Marine Ecological Processes) received his Ph.D. from Stony Brook University in 2007 and has been on the faculty of CSULB since then. His research focuses on causes and consequences of variation in the structure and function of marine communities. 

Dr. Christopher Janousek (Marine Phycology) received his Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego and has been on the faculty of CSULB since 2019 and at Oregon State University since 2017. His research focuses on wetland ecology.

*Courses and Instructors may change