If you need to be near the sea consider the University of Oregon Institute of Marine Biology – OIMB

Rebecca Hext
Coos Bay, Oregon - <a href=Image source" title="Coos Bay, Oregon - Image source" width="800" height="441" />
Coos Bay, Oregon - Image source

Are you the kind of student that thrives in a hands-on learning environment? Then the Univerity of Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB) might be the school for you! This sub-campus of the University of Oregon offers a unique experience for students to conduct research and take classes directly on the Oregon Coast.


History of OIMB

Since 1924, the University of Oregon has been facilitating marine teaching and research on the southern Oregon coast for students. Back then, students headed to Sunset Bay and used tents as dorm rooms. However, in 1931 a small section of the Coos Head Military Reserve was deeded to the University to create a more established campus for students.

During World War II, the campus was actually reclaimed by the government to be used for strategic purposes. After the war was over, the campus was returned to the school and they continued teaching and researching in Coos Bay.


Coos Bay, Oregon – Image source
Coos Bay, Oregon – Image source

Before the 60’s the campus was explicitly used for summer programs, but that changed in 1966. The university undertook a 2 year revamp plan and made the campus suitable for year around research. A few years later, full-time teaching became an opportunity for students and this is what we see today.

The OIMB Campus

With the help of a couple major grants from the federal government, OIMB has grown into a high-end research and teaching facility. Although the campus is small, they have everything a large university would from innovative lab equipment to an on-campus laundry house. The campus has various laboratories, dorm housing, cottage housing, a full library, museum, and a dining hall.

During the summer months students live in the dorm housing, and if you choose to stay during the year you move into the cottages. They even own their own research boat that sits in the bay directly across from campus. It is used by students and faculty frequently for research and teaching. OIMB essentially like a year-around educational summer camp dreamland for anyone interested in studying Marine Biology.


These two-bedroom cottages are used for undergrad and graduate student housing
These two-bedroom cottages are used for undergrad and graduate student housing

How Does OIMB Work?

OIMB is an extension of the University of Oregon, which means you will start your undergrad in Eugene at their main campus. There are a couple different ways to go about getting your degree in Marine Biology though.

All students pursuing a BS in Marine Biology must spend a minimum of three quarters at the OIMB campus. Some students choose to spend their Summers at OIMB because they don’t want to miss out on the classic college experience that the main university has to offer. However, students are more than welcome to spend more than as many terms in a row studying at the OIMB campus as long as they have completed their prerequisites.

Introduction classes such as chemistry, biology, physics, and math are to be taken at the main campus. Once you are done with those, you can head out to Coos Bay to start the real fun. All upper-level classes are taken at OIMB and they offer just about every random thing you could think of. Classes range in topic from Invertebrate Zoology to Marine Birds and Mammals to Seaweed Ecology.

Outdoor Recreation Near OIMB

If the school wasn’t incredible enough for outdoor junkies, just wait until you check out the surrounding areas. There are tons of hiking, biking, and backpacking opportunities within hours of campus.

Two of Oregon’s most stunning waterfalls, Silver Falls and Golden Falls, are a one hour drive inland from campus. Golden Falls cascades down 200 feet into a large pool below, and Silver Falls drops a total of 130 feet.

If you want to check out some OIMB history, you can drive 30 minutes south to Sunset Beach for the day. Here, you can relax on the sand and enjoy the sun, or head out on one of the most scenic coastal trails on the Oregon Coast. Connecting Sunset Bay and Shore Acres, this 5-mile round trip hike features stunning views of the coastal cliffs and a variety of wildflowers in the spring.

The Oregon Dunes are a great option if you are looking for something a little bit out of the ordinary. At the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, students can get an awesome workout trekking through the thick sand. Check the weather before heading out to the dunes though! Strong winds are common and make for an unpleasant afternoon.


Sunset Beach is a great spot to check out the sunset
Sunset Beach is a great spot to check out the sunset

The Town of Coos Bay

The town of Coos Bay is essentially a fisherman’s town. With the exception of a small downtown and the OIMB campus, the majority of the town is private homes. The area is very different from the main campus in Eugene, which is always hating and bustling with activity. However, if you venture a little more inland from the bay you can find some great dining and shopping options.

OIMB students can frequent be found in town at the famous 7 Devils Brewery Company. This small craft brewing company takes their coastal location seriously. They work to make their restaurant and tasting facility sustainable and environmentally friendly. Another perk of being near the bay is fresh seafood, and 7 Devils knows how to cook it. If you are craving some fresh fish and an ice cold beer, this is the place to go!


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rebecca-hext is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival