MS in Marine Science


The Master of Science (MS) Program in marine sciences is designed to train and prepare superior students for a career in this field. The marine sciences program offers courses and opportunities for research in four main areas: biological, chemical, physical, and geological oceanography. Each MS student receives formal training in at least three of these disciplines while concentrating in a specific research area. Thus, the program is structured to develop the capacity for productive and innovative research, founded on a solid background of broad scientific knowledge. Recognizing the importance of marine and coastal environments to the socioeconomic welfare of Alabama, the University of South Alabama developed a graduate program in the marine sciences that is both applied and theoretical.
The faculty of the department is committed to training the next generation of marine scientist, pursuing excellence in research, and assisting in the sustainable management of marine resources through service. Although most research is conducted within the Gulf of Mexico, faculty and graduate students perform research projects throughout the world form the Arctic to Antarctic. 
The program is administered from the main campus in Mobile, but most students and faculty are in residence at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, located about 35 miles south of Mobile. Within a short distance of these locations are diverse habitats, including the Mobile Delta, Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound, numerous barrier islands, and open Gulf habitats.

Course Requirements

A field of specialization is required of all candidates for the MS degree. In addition, all students must have formal course work in at least three (3) of the following general areas of marine sciences; biological, chemical, geological, and physical oceanography. This requirement is normally met by completion of three of the four (4) core courses (see below), representing twelve (12) credit hours.

Core Courses

The four (4) core courses consist of four (4) semester hours each for a total of 16 semester hours in physical (MAS 601), chemical (MAS 602), geological (MAS 603), and biological oceanography (MAS 604), or equivalent transfer hours. At least two (2) semester hours of seminar (two, one (1) semester hour enrollments) are required.
The remaining course work will be determined by the student's advisory committee, but must include six (6) semester hours of marine sciences electives. Although a thesis is not an absolute requirement, this program is oriented toward research, and students will be expected to demonstrate research capability, preferably through completion of an acceptable thesis. For students pursuing a thesis program, the MS degree program of study may include up to nine (9) hours of thesis credit toward the minimum requirements of thirty-two (32) semester hours.

Core Courses (3 of 4)                                                                                                                        Credit Hours

MAS 601                          (4 cr)
MAS 602 (4 cr)
MAS 603 (4 cr)
MAS 604 (4 cr)

   Seminar                                                                                                                                          Credit Hours

Seminar I                             (1 cr) 
Seminar II (1 cr) 

Marine Sciences Electives (as determined by advisory committee, but at least six (6) semester hours)

Directed Studies                                                                           (6 cr) (maximum)
Thesis (9 cr) (maximum)

Comprehensive Examinations

Grades of "B" or better in all core courses will satisfy the requirement of a comprehensive exam.

Non-Thesis Program

Students pursuing the MS degree in Marine Sciences are encouraged to follow the thesis option. However, a non-thesis curriculum is available for students, upon agreement of the major professor and advisory committee, who so elect. The student will be required to complete the same degree requirements as those for a student who chooses the thesis option, with the following exceptions:
1. A thesis will not be required, consequently MAS 599 (Thesis) may not be taken, and the nine (9) semester hours normally associated with it must be      earned through formal course work.
2. Course work must include all four core courses.
3. The student must take an oral comprehensive exam, to be given by the advisory committee, in addition to the written exam.
4. The student must complete MAS 594 (Directed Studies) under the direction of the major professor. The student must also have an advisory committee    whose members will decide if the student's report relating to the directed study is satisfactory. The committee normally will consist of the major professor  and two others. The student is required to present an open seminar about the directed study during the last semester of residency.

Defense of Thesis (when applicable)

The final oral defense of the thesis is scheduled after the thesis is completed except for such revisions as may be necessary as a result of the defense. The final oral defense will not be given before all required course work has been completed or is currently in progress.

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