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Masters Program

Masters of Science (M.S.)

Program Objectives

The goal of the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography's Masters of Science Degree Programs is to provide a scientifically-based, credible, holistic and timely introduction and knowledge of key ecological and socio-environmental issues.

Students can complete a degree program in a minimum of 2 years of full-time study and a maximum 5 years of part-time study.

On campus graduate classes are held in both morning and evening format and typically meet one to two times per week. Exceptions are field courses which may entail several days of intensive study or weekend field trips. Online courses meet periodically at the convenience of faculty and students.

There are two M.S. degree programs offered: 

Completion of the degree is expected to lead to placements in the workforce in chosen field, in a position requiring graduate training, and in career advancement for working professionals

  • Effective communication skills,
  • A full understanding of the scientific method,
  • A generalized knowledge in ecological, geological, chemical and biological concepts as they relate to the environment.
  • A generalized knowledge of the natural and human-driven problems currently, and anticipated to, impact the marine environment.
  • In-depth knowledge of a specific aspect of their major.

There are two tracks for completing the M.S. Marine Science degree.

  • Capstone
    All entering M.S. students are accepted in the Capstone track. Students take a minimum of 6 core courses and 4 concentration electives. Students must take Capstone courses totaling a minimum of 8 credits (2 semesters minimum). The Capstone is a scholarly review, based upon a comprehensive literature search, review, data analysis, and synthesis of the chosen topic. Carrying out a Capstone takes place with guidance from a major professor. Typically, Capstone students find a major professor by approaching faculty in the student's area of interest. Students will be assigned a Capstone advisor if they have difficulty in identifying a major professor. Prior to beginning a Capstone and registering for Capstone credits, the student must write a proposal which must be approved by the student's major professor, committee (define how committee is formed), and chair of the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences and be submitted to the Program Office.
  • Thesis
    The thesis track requires an extra step. A thesis is an original contribution to knowledge resulting from the systematic study of a significant problem or issue. A thesis track requires a minimum of 6 core courses and 4 concentration electives. In addition, a minimum of 8 Thesis credits is required (2 semesters minimum). Thesis track students must secure agreement from a faculty member to be the student's major professor. There must be adequate funding to carry out the proposed research. Students are not provided with a thesis advisor. Prior to beginning thesis research and registering for thesis credits, the student must write a proposal which must be approved by the student's major professor, committee, and the chair of the Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences and be submitted to the Program Office. The Thesis option is typically a longer duration track and may require additional thesis credits to complete the research project. 

For further details, students are referred to section 3.8 of this catalog and to the online guidelines for the capstone or thesis track found on the Student Information page under Master's Student Guide to Thesis and Capstone

Once a student starts registering for capstone or thesis course credits, they cannot stop registering for credits until the project is completed and defended. The number of research credits above the minimum is dependent upon the length of time needed to complete the research, which may be more than the typical minimum of two terms. The completed research project is presented in an open defense that includes the student's advisory committee.


Students are required to complete a minimum of 38 credits for this degree.

Core Courses (18 credits)

  • MSMS 5010 Biostatistics – 3 credits
  • MSMS 5020 Marine Ecosystems – 3 credits
  • MSMS 5030 Marine Geology – 3 credits
  • MSMS 5040 Marine Chemistry – 3 credits
  • MSMS 5050 Physical Oceanography – 3 credits
  • MSMS 5060 Scientific Communication – 3 credits

Electives (12 credits)

Marine Biology Concentration

  • MSMS 6001 Marine Physiology – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6002 Coral Reef Ecology – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6003 Deep Sea Biology – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6004 Marine Fisheries – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6005 Invertebrate Zoology – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6006 Taxonomy of Marine Invertebrates – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6007 Marine Mammalogy – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6008 Biology of Sharks and Rays I – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6009 Biology of Sharks and Rays II – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6010 Marine Apex Predators – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6011 Marine Avian Ecology – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6012 Corals from the Inside Out – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6014 Marine Larval Ecology – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6015 Fertilization Ecology – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6016 Ichthyology – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6017 Tropical Fish Biology – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6018 Coral Reef Assessment – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6019 Marine Biodiversity and Speciation – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6021 Histology & Ultrastructure of Marine Organisms – 3 credits

Coastal Zone Management Concentration

  • MSMS 6101 Coastal Policy of U.S. Living Marine Resources – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6102 Ocean and Coastal Law – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6103 Invasive Species – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6104 Communication Dynamics in Dispute Resolution: Human Factor – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6105 Effective Environmental Communication – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6106 Leadership in the Public Sector – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6107 Environmental Law – 3 credits

Marine Environmental Science Concentration

  • MSMS 6201 GIS & Environmental Remote Sensing – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6202 Coastal Processes and Hazards – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6203 Climate Change – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6204 Anthropogenic Impacts in Marine Environments – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6205 Toxicology and Laboratory q-PCR – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6208 Aquaculture – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6209 Biodiversity – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6210 Scientific Method and Experimental Design – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6211 Genomics – 3 credits
  • MSMS 6212 Population Ecology – 3 credits

Students are allowed to take one elective outside their concentration and have them count towards their final credit count. 

Dual Concentration:

If you wish to pursue a dual concentration, please select 3 additional electives from that concentration.

  • Dual concentration options
    • Marine Biology/Coastal Zone Management
    • Marine Biology/Marine Environmental Science
    • Marine Environmental Science/Coastal Zone Management