There are two tracks for completing the M.S. Marine Science degree
All entering M.S. students are accepted in the capstone
. Students take a minimum of 6 core courses and 4 regular courses in their selected concentration for 30 credits. Students must take capstone courses totaling a minimum of 6 credits. This is typically done at or near the completion of formal coursework. 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.
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 regular courses for 30 credits. In addition, a minimum of 6 thesis credits is required. To be allowed entry into the thesis track the student 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 Resources 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.