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Undergraduate Programs

Mission and Goals

The overall mission of the Fisheries Biology Program is to:

Provide our majors with the knowledge, skills and motivation required to ensure the conservation of fish and aquatic resources that are faced with increasing societal demands and increasing loss or degradation of habitat.

We stress development of a field-based understanding of the relationships between freshwater and marine fishes and the habitats upon which they depend, but our program is broad enough to provide specialized training in fish population dynamics and fishery management, restoration ecology, systematics, marine and freshwater aquaculture, fish health management and water pollution biology. Each of these specialized areas within the broader fisheries field has its own important role to play in the overall conservation of fish and aquatic resources. Our goal is to help students appreciate the roles that their chosen disciplinary specializations contribute to this overall conservation objective.

Fisheries Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Fish Ecology Skills
  2. Statement of Learner Outcome: Students will be able to describe how physical and biological factors of aquatic ecosystems determine the distribution and abundance of fish populations and pose testable hypotheses and experiments to identify specific factors that constrain population growth or distribution.

  3. Fisheries Techniques Skills
  4. Statement of Learner Outcome: Students will be able to select and implement basic data collection protocols appropriate for characterizing status of fish communities, including assessment of species composition, abundance, and population structure (age, size, genetic).

  5. Communication Skills
  6. Statement of Learner Outcome: Students will be able to convey scientific concepts in written, oral and visual communication formats, including following basic guidelines for format and structure of scientific reports, papers or presentations.

  7. Quantitative Skills
  8. Statement of Learner Outcome: Students will be able to describe and explain how fisheries management problems can be expressed as mathematical/numeric/statistical models, produce useful tabular and graphic summaries of quantitative data, and conduct simple tests of statistical hypotheses.

  9. Fisheries Management Skills
  10. Statement of Learner Outcome: Students will be able to describe the scientific, legal, political, and social factors that determine goals for fisheries management and conservation, and to identify appropriate management strategies that can be used to achieve these goals.

  11. Critical Thinking Skills
  12. Statement of Learner Outcome: Students will be able critically evaluate their own fisheries work as well as fisheries data, information and conclusions reported in published peer-reviewed literature, unpublished technical reports, and popular media.


The Humboldt State University Fisheries Biology Undergraduate Program Requirements allow students to choose an emphasis in either Freshwater or Marine Fisheries.

Course Work

Dr. Tim Mulligan with Students on the RV Coral Sea

In the first two years of their programs, all Fisheries Biology students share a basic core of required classes in biology, chemistry, mathematics and statistics. For students who begin as freshmen at HSU, we recommend that they begin taking Fisheries Biology courses during their second year of study (one each semester). All students (native and transfers) then move into an extensive series of Fisheries Biology classes that focus on their emphasis option (freshwater or marine). We have always allowed students substantial flexibility in selection of their courses and all students must complete 9 units of Approved Electives which are selected by the student in consultation with his/her faculty advisor.

For examples of four year program schedules follow the links:

For further assistance in developing a program of study, follow the link to:

High School Preparation

High school students should emphasize science classes (especially biology and chemistry), should focus on developing superior writing skills, and should be prepared to begin calculus when they enter HSU.

Community College Transfers

The HSU Fisheries Biology program welcomes transfers from junior colleges. For a seamless transfer process, your community college program should include the equivalent of those courses (excluding HSU FISH courses) that are listed in the first two years of the example four year programs above. Equivalency of courses taught at CA Junior Colleges and at HSU can be established at www.assist.org

How to Apply

For undergraduate application procedures please visit the University Admissions web pages.

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Fisheries Biology Department • Humboldt State University • 1 Harpst St • Arcata, CA 95521 • (707) 826-3953 • Contact Us