The goal of the Oceanographic Center'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 1.5 years of full-time study and a maximum 5 years of part-time study.
There are four M.S. degree programs offered:
M.S. Biological Sciences M.S. Coastal Zone Management M.S. Marine Biology M.S. Marine Environmental Sciences
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
Expected learning outcomes are:
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.
On campus graduate classes typically meet one evening per week in a
three hour session. Exceptions are field courses which may entail
several days of intensive study. On-line courses meet periodically at
the convenience of faculty and students
There are two tracts for completing an M.S. degree.
All entering M.S. students are accepted in the Capstone (also called Capstone track).
Students take a minimum 13 regular courses in their selected degree for
39 credits. Students must take Capstone Review Paper courses totaling
a minimum of 6 credits (which involve submitting and defending a
capstone review paper. This is typically done at or near the completion
of formal coursework. The Capstone review paper is a scholarly review,
based upon a comprehensive literature search, review, and synthesis of
the chosen topic. Carrying out a Capstone review paper 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 review paper and registering for Capstone Review Paper credits,
the student must write a proposal which must be approved by the
student's major professor, committee (define how committee is formed),
and the Associate Dean of Academic Programs, and be submitted to the
Director of Academic Support and Administration in the Program Office.
Thesis Optional Track
Some students desire the thesis track. 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 10 regular courses for 30 credits. In
addition, a minimum of 9 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
the Associate Dean of Academic Programs, and be submitted to the
Director of Academic Support and Administration in the Program Office.
The Thesis option is typically a longer duration track and number of
credit hours than the Capstone track.
The default Capstone track requires a minimum of 45 credits. This
includes five 3-credit core classes, eight 3-credit specialty courses
and a minimum of two 3-credit Capstone Review Paper courses (consisting
of an extended literature review of an approved subject). Once a student
starts registering for capstone course credits, they cannot stop
registering for credits until the capstone is completed and defended. It
is expected the Capstone review paper can be completed within two terms
or less. The completed Capstone review paper is presented in an open
defense that includes the student's advisory committee. The Thesis
option track requires a minimum of 39 credits. This includes five
3-credit core classes, five 3-credit specialty courses, and at least
nine credits of master's thesis research. The number of thesis research
credits above the minimum is dependent upon the length of time needed to
complete the thesis research, which may be more than the typical
minimum three terms. The final thesis is formally defended in an open
defense that includes the student's advisory committee.
Students in a single degree are allowed to take up to two elective
courses outside their degree orientation and have them count towards
their final credit count.
For both the Capstone Review Paper and the Thesis degree tracks, once
the proposal has been accepted, enrollment in the chosen track must
continue until completion of the degree.
Joint M.S. Degrees
Also offered are Joint M.S. Degrees
M.S. in Marine Biology/Coastal Zone Management
M.S. in Marine Biology/Marine Environmental Sciences
M.S. in Coastal Zone Management/Marine Environmental Sciences
The joint specialization M.S. degrees require a minimum of 57 course
credits (19 courses) or 51 course credits (17 courses) (for Capstone
review or Thesis respectively) including nine credits minimum thesis
research or the six credits minimum for the capstone review paper. For
the joint programs, students take approximately equal numbers of courses
within each of the two specialties. The final thesis is formally
defended in an open defense that includes the student's committee.
Arts (M.A.) in Marine and Coastal Studies
This program is designed to provide students with an orientation
towards the marine-related social sciences with a broadened, in-depth,
scholarly perspective on marine and coastal issues, from the depths of
the deep sea to the heights of atmospheric climate change. This on-line,
distance education M.A. is designed for a broad range of students and
working professionals with an interest in the marine and coastal zone
that may not have an academic background in science. Students come from a
range of sectors; e.g. administration, teaching, government and policy,
urban planning, environmental journalism and film media, tourism, and
The maximum time limit for completion of the M.A.
program is five years for full-time students, nine years for part-time
students. There is no minimum time limitation for completion of the M.A..
Like many other Master’s programs, including those at NSUOC, the program
can be completed in less than 2 years but it is anticipated full-time
students will complete in 24 to 30 months.
Expected program outcomes are:
Students will achieve and maintain a high cumulative grade point
average (GPA = 3.0) from course grades earned throughout the program.
The combination of courses comprising the degree ensures that students acquire and demonstrate:
effective communication skills;
the ability to explain, assess and predict historic, current and
anticipated societal, technological, and ecological impacts related to
the marine and coastal environment;
the ability to identify and analyze national and international marine and coastal issues and approaches to their solutions.
To complete the M.A. in Marine and Coastal Studies students must
successfully complete the 5 core courses and 7 electives, presenting a
final portfolio prior to graduation consisting of rigorous integrated
papers scaffolded over their completed term of study. Each core course
will require a final term paper which will be graded as 20% of the
course final grade. After grading, these term papers will be rewritten
until the course instructor finds them acceptable to be incorporated
into the student’s portfolio.
The final portfolio, written in the scientific style of writing, is
composed of the 5 approved core term papers and a summative essay
integrating and showing the synthesis of knowledge and skills gained
through completion of the core papers will be presented to the Associate
Dean of Academic Programs upon completion of all coursework. The
Associate Dean of Academic Programs will insure the summative essay is
rewritten until acceptable.
Review admissions requirements or start your application online now. Choose your program below:
The Mission of the Oceanographic Center is to carry out innovative, basic and applied research and to provide high-quality graduate and undergraduate education in a broad range of marine science and related disciplines.