There are two ways to study aquaculture at Brunswick Community College: 1) The Online Continuing Education Program and 2) The Curriculum Programs, leading to the Certificate (requires 1 semester), the Diploma (requires 2 semesters), and the 2-year AAS Degree in Aquaculture Technology.
Curriculum programs are fully accredited academic programs designed for college level students who wish to earn a Certificate, Diploma or Associate Degree in Aquaculture Technology.
Please contact Admissions to apply for the curriculum programs in Aquaculture Technology: (800) 754-1050
For descriptions of our 1-semester Curriculum, 1-year Diploma, and 2-year Associate in Applied Science Degree in Aquaculture Technology, along with aquaculture course descriptions, please refer to “Catalog & Handbook” under the “Students” tab on the main page of this website. We also offer a fully online option to obtain a Certificate or Diploma in Aquaculture Technology.
Certificate: Designed as a 1-semester (16 weeks) program to provide the student with the background necessary to establish a small-scale aquaponic or sustainable aquaculture family farm. The Certificate includes 13 hours of coursework in aquaponics (the combination of recirculating fish culture and hydroponic plant culture), introductory aquaculture, and business management. The courses have no prerequisites, and no placement test is required. The only requirement to enter the Certificate Program is a high school diploma or equivalent.
Diploma: Designed as a 1-year (2 semesters) program to go beyond the introductory level and to provide the student with the background needed to build and manage small to medium scale commercial aquaculture and aquaponic operations. The Diploma Program requires a high school diploma or equivalent, and placement testing for math and english proficiency. The program includes two 18-credit-hour semesters of coursework in biology, chemistry, english, business and economics as well as both introductory and advanced courses in aquaculture and aquaponics. The Certificate is integral to the Diploma and is earned in the process of completing the Diploma.
Associate in Applied Science Degree: Designed as a full 2-year degree program in aquaculture and aquaponics. Students completing the Degree program will be well qualified to build and manage large scale commercial aquaculture operations, and also have the option of taking advantage of our articulation agreement with nearby UNC-Wilmington to enter their highly recognized B.S. Degree Program in Marine Biology. The UNC-Wilmington Center for Marine Sciences has a world-renowned research program in saltwater aquaculture or mariculture of finfish (including flounder, black sea bass and mutton snapper) and shellfish (including oysters). The Certificate and Diploma are integral to the A.A.S. Degree and are earned in the process of completing the degree.
Unsure which curriculum program to enter? Sign up for the Certificate and make your decision later. All courses in the Certificate count towards the Diploma, and all courses in the Diploma count towards the A.A.S. Degree. And best of all, both the Certificate and Diploma can be completed online.
Students entering the BCC Aquaculture Technology Program generally fall into at least one of the following three groups:
1. Aquaculture/Mariculture Articulation Agreement Between UNCW & BCC
BCC students who complete the Associate of Applied Science degree (AAS) in Aquaculture Technology will be considered for admission into the UNCW Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology Program with Mariculture emphasis. Students seeking admission to the UNCW program must maintain at least a 2.5 overall GPA while at BCC and comply with all terms and conditions set forth in the agreement. Students may transfer up to 64 semester hours of credit, which would allow them to enter UNCW as a junior year student. Please see the Aquaculture program director for further information and advising.
2. Traditional Aquaculture vs. Sustainable Aquaculture & Aquaponics
Traditional aquaculture, like other forms of traditional agriculture, often requires considerable resources to get started, including land, labor and capital. If you have these considerable resources at your disposal, then traditional aquaculture may be a business opportunity for you, and we cover that in our aquaculture courses here at BCC. If like most people you do not have such considerable resources available to you, you still have options! By taking advantage of local, direct-to-consumer marketing opportunities through what is referred to as the “Local Food Movement”, producers receive much higher prices for their fish and shellfish, and can therefore succeed on a much smaller scale than in traditional aquaculture.
Sustainable Aquaculture: The production of fish and shellfish in ways that minimize negative impacts on the environment, that produce a healthful product for the consumer, and that are marketed in a manner that maximizes benefits to the producer, the consumer, and the local economy. Examples include small-scale production of species such as catfish, tilapia, bluegill, crawfish, and freshwater prawns that are relatively low in the food chain, using tanks, static ponds, and other controlled water containment structures, without the use of pesticides or added hormones, and marketed through local farmer’s markets and restaurants.
Aquaponics: Perhaps the ultimate form of sustainable aquaculture, aquaponics combines the production of fish in recirculating aquaculture systems with hydroponic vegetable production, utilizing waste from the fish as fertilizer for the vegetables. Featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles and documentary films as the “farm of the future”, a small aquaponics facility that will produce enough fish and fruiting vegetables to feed 15-20 people may be located on ¼ acre of land, with minimal water requirements and wastewater discharge. The only regular resource inputs required for aquaponics systems are fish feed, moderate amounts of electricity (which may be supplied using solar or other forms of renewable energy), small amounts of potassium, calcium and micronutrient fertilizers to balance the nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers produced by the fish, and your own skilled management of the facility. Here at BCC, we are on the cutting edge of aquaponics and sustainable aquaculture development. These concepts are woven into every part of our program, and as a graduate of the BCC Aquaculture Technology Program you will be well prepared for a future in this very exciting field of endeavor.
3. Aquarium Science
Many students come into the BCC Aquaculture Program with an interest in working in the public aquarium industry. Over the years we have developed a course in “Aquariology” that is designed specifically for these students, and virtually every part of the aquaculture program is applicable and useful to graduates who seek employment at public aquariums throughout the US. We maintain a particularly close relationship with our local public aquariums, including the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher and Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach. Several members of our curriculum advisory board are employed at these two public aquariums, and internship opportunities at these and other aquariums are available to our students.