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Doctoral Program

Marine Sciences & Technology Doctoral Program

The Marine Sciences and Technology Ph.D. program, offered by School of Marine Sciences (SMS), includes four core courses taken by all students (12 credits), courses in a concentration area beyond the core, seminars, and dissertation research. Work in the concentration area usually includes a minimum of 24 credit hours of courses and helps the student prepare for the written and oral candidacy examinations. Ph.D. students are not normally accepted as part-time students. Courses may be taken at any SMS-affiliated program on the four campuses, in other departments, or at other area institutions, and may be included in a student’s program of studies as determined by the student’s major advisor and/or dissertation committee.

Core Course Requirements

Each SMS student must complete four core courses (12 credits), one in each of four core areas: biological oceanography, chemical oceanography, physical oceanography, and Marine Policy and/or Management areas (including law and economics). The Core column in the SMS course list identifies the core courses and their respective areas. The core courses are intended to provide a common grounding in the biological, chemical, and physical oceanographic areas of marine sciences and technology, and in related marine policy and management disciplines. At least two core courses are offered each semester using the University’s substantial distance learning facilities and technology. Students normally complete the core courses in the first two semesters.

SMS has developed core courses that are taught via distance learning, one in each of the core areas (biological, chemical and physical oceanography), which will satisfy the requirements of SMS students. These courses will ensure that all SMS students master key concepts and skills central to an interdisciplinary marine sciences and technology graduate program. The core courses  may be team taught in some cases.

Concentrations and Electives

To build on the core courses, each SMS student selects an area of concentration and chooses a marine policy or management core course and electives appropriate to this concentration, as approved by their faculty advisor and/or thesis committee. Concentrations and Courses describes the concentrations and lists the electives associated with each concentration.

Students typically take most of their elective courses on the campus where they and their major faculty advisor are in residence. Some elective courses, however, will also be taught via distance learning. In addition, students may choose to be in residence at different campuses for a period of time during their course of study, in order to take certain courses or to take advantage of research opportunities.

Weekly Seminars

Weekly seminars presented by students and by visiting speakers are intended to broaden the scope of each student’s experience and to provide experience in verbal communication. Each M.S. student must present at least one seminar in the third or fourth semester. Attendance at the weekly seminars is required during all four semesters, for which students receive 1 credit for each of the first two semesters but no credit for the second two semesters.

Candidacy Examinations and Dissertation

Generally, at the end of the fourth semester but no later than the end of the sixth semester, after passing the comprehensive written and oral examinations, the student and major faculty advisor select additional faculty who constitute the student’s graduate committee, and the student presents a written dissertation proposal to the committee. The student’s major advisor and committee may determine a later date for the presentation of the dissertation proposal. A student’s committee is chaired by the student’s major advisor and guides the student’s research. Committee members may be selected from SMS faculty, other departments, and other institutions. All committees must include at least one SMS faculty member from a campus other than the campus where the student resides.

Successful performance in the core courses is required for advancement to degree status. A grade of B or better in each core course and an overall average of 3.000 in the core courses are required. There is a retake option on a course for which the student receives a grade of B- or less.

No later than the sixth semester, the student’s committee administers the written and oral candidacy examinations. The candidacy examinations are comprehensive and cover the core areas and the student’s area of concentration. They are designed to test the intellectual competence and maturity of the student in the broad area of marine sciences and technology and in the selected area of concentration. Upon successful completion of the Ph.D. candidacy examinations, the student is awarded an M.S. degree.

A scholarly dissertation based on original research is required of all Ph.D. candidates. Dissertation research may be done in the laboratory or the field, or may be carried out in part during residence with an appropriate private business or government agency. Presentation and defense of a satisfactory dissertation, normally to be completed within five years from the date of advancement to candidacy, fulfill the degree requirements. The dissertation defense consists of a public lecture on the dissertation and a subsequent oral examination by the candidate’s dissertation committee.

Sequence of Courses by Semester

In the first two semesters, Ph.D. students normally complete the core courses (12 credits), register for the seminar series (one credit each semester), and take two electives (6 credits). Additional coursework (24 credits minimum) is normally completed by the end of the fifth semester, in order to complete the written and oral candidacy examinations no later than the sixth semester. Upon advancement to candidacy, Ph.D. students register each semester for dissertation research and other courses as appropriate until graduation.