The mating system partitions genetic diversity within and among populations and the links between life history traits and mating systems have been extensively studied in diploid organisms. As such most evolutionary theory is focused on species for which sexual reproduction occurs between diploid male and diploid female individuals. However, there are many multicellular organisms with biphasic life cycles in which the haploid stage is prolonged and undergoes substantial somatic development. In particular, biphasic life cycles are found across green, brown and red macroalgae. Yet, few studies have addressed the population structure and genetic diversity in both the haploid and diploid stages in these life cycles. We have developed some broad guidelines with which to develop population genetic studies of haploid-diploid macroalgae and to quantify the relationship between power and sampling strategy. We address three common goals for studying macroalgal population dynamics, including haploid-diploid ratios, genetic structure and paternity analyses.