Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is it like to be a student at the Marine Lab?

We routinely hear from students that their time at the Marine Lab has been one of the best experiences of their college career. Students tell us that they enjoy being a part of such a close community of scholars and friends. Students also say that they make great friendships, perform well academically, and enjoy getting to know their faculty like never before.

Our courses are scheduled similarly to most college campuses, but we schedule around meal times at the dining hall so there generally aren’t classes between 12 & 1pm and 5 & 6 pm. Many of our natural science courses have labs scheduled with them which have students working inside labs or “in the field.” During the semester, we have a weekly seminar given by a national or international scientist – usually the topic has to do with some aspect of marine science and/or conservation.

Undergraduates all live on campus together in any one of our five dorms. The Marine Lab has things you’d find on a college campus and a few extras: dorms, a dining hall, library, student common spaces, student gym, laundry room, kayaks, canoes, paddleboards. During the fall and spring semesters, students can get a student membership to a nearby gym. We're part of Duke so all the Duke systems like flex and e-print are found at the Marine Lab as well. The best part: Students get a water view just about everywhere you look!

The Fall semester is a traditional schedule (students start classes in the end of August and finish in early December)—the fall break at the Marine Lab is one full week. The Marine Lab’s spring semester is scheduled in blocks: Students take one course per block- each block is roughly ~3.5 weeks long. We offer travel courses in each block (extra costs apply), but we always have Beaufort-based options as well. We also offer two six-week summer terms.

Duke students are automatically accepted to study in Beaufort – just send an email to to let us know you are thinking about enrolling. We’ll send you an email with everything you need to know. Students register for courses in Duke Hub during Duke’s normal registration windows.

Who studies at the Marine Lab?

Students enroll at the Marine Lab as sophomores, juniors or seniors. We serve a wide variety of students including (but not limited to) environmental science, earth and ocean science, biology, neuroscience, engineering, and public policy majors. We routinely serve pre-med, pre-vet, and pre-dental students as well. The Marine Lab has a lot to offer students in every major – you don’t have to be a future marine biologist to study here!

Students from other universities also come to study at the Marine Lab – the student body changes each semester and our students from outside universities are a vital part of our community. Students enjoy making friends from other schools and often visit each other after their Marine Lab experience.

May non-science majors enroll?

Yes. The Duke Marine Lab is an excellent place for non-science majors to fulfill major and Trinity requirements.

Do I need a car? What about parking?

Some students have cars and others don’t. If you have a car and can bring it, you will appreciate having it in Beaufort. There is no cost to park at the Marine Lab. Students are great about carpooling and there is a lot of commuting back and forth to the Durham campus with faculty, staff, and other students. There is a local transportation company called CCATS that works similar to a bus service for a low fare.

How do I enroll?

Duke undergraduates are automatically accepted to the Duke Marine Lab after completion of the first year at Duke. Visiting students should submit an enrollment form to the Duke Marine Lab Student Services Office.

Are there deadlines?

There are no deadlines for Duke students, but advance notification is appreciated via email and space is first-come first-served. For visiting students, enrollment forms should be received by December 1 for spring semester, by April 1 for fall semester and one month before each summer session. Enrollment forms will be accepted after these deadlines if space is still available. Please check the financial aid sections of our website for fall, spring, and summer financial aid deadlines.

Can I do research at the Marine Lab?

Yes, the majority of our semester students are enrolled in research independent study. Each semester we have around 15-20 unique projects for students to work on, depending on the type of research that you are interested in. We routinely have research projects offered through Biology, Environmental Science and Policy, and Earth and Ocean Sciences. Credit may be available through other departments and can be discussed on a case by case basis.

What about Financial Aid?

If you are a Duke student on Financial Aid, your financial will follow you to the Marine Lab and can be used toward our travel courses. Visit Duke's financial aid website for information on financial aid for Duke students at the Marine Lab.

Visit the scholarships & financial aid section of our website for additional information on summer tuition scholarships and discounts for resident advisors. Marine Lab students pay standard Duke tuition, room & board, and a few fees. Check our Tuition & Fees for complete details.

There is a scholarship specifically for visiting students in the fall which can also be found in the scholarships & financial aid section of our website.

I attend a university other than Duke. Will the credits transfer to my university?

Each college/university works a little bit differently with how credits are counted from outside your institution. You should consult with your Dean/Advisor/Off Campus Studies department to determine how your Marine Lab courses will count toward your major or graduation requirements. Non-laboratory and laboratory (L) courses are worth 3 and 4 hours of credit, respectively. You will receive a Duke transcript after the completion of your coursework at the Marine Lab. You might find it helpful to review Duke's transcript guide in order to determine comparable credits, grades, etc.

Do I need to apply for housing at the Marine Lab?

Housing is automatic for undergraduate students who enroll at the Marine Lab. Requests for a roommate or a single can be made to the Marine Lab Assistant Dean for Residential Life. Duke students should notify Duke housing that you will not need housing on main campus for that semester.


Additional Resources

More questions?

No problem - just let us know! Contact Gwendy Womble or Katie Wood for additional information