Today's professionals in the maritime sectors of industry, government, and non-governmental organizations are expected to develop policy and planning options, while managing both living and non-living marine resources based upon the best available science and technology. Similarly, technologists, engineers, and scientists are faced with managing personnel, funds, and businesses in increasingly challenging fiscal and policy environments.
Through the UMass Intercampus Marine Science program, we now offer a Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree to meet these needs. The COAST (for Coastal and Ocean Administration, Science and Technology) PSM program is a new opportunity for students to pursue a non-thesis degree that blends a study of science with coursework in management, policy, or law, and also has a strong emphasis on writing and communication skills.
This unique program is designed to enable students to enter the workforce immediately as advanced marine science, engineering, and technology professionals. For those already in the workforce, the COAST PSM is an excellent way to broaden their knowledge of the marine science and technology along with the business practices in their field, while advancing their own careers. Classes are scheduled with an eye toward enabling working professionals to pursue their degrees while maintaining their professional responsibilities within their places of employment.
Each COAST Professional Science Master's student must complete three core courses (9 credits), which include at least two (2) of the four (4) science core courses in biological, chemical, geological and physical oceanography. An additional, third core course in marine policy and/or management areas (including law and economics) is also required.
The core courses are intended to provide a common grounding in the biological, chemical, physical, and geological oceanographic areas of marine science and technology, as well as the marine policy and/or management disciplines. Elective courses covering additional science and technology areas, along with quantitative skills, are generally subject to student choice and advisor approval.
Concentration and Electives - Professional Science Master's (PSM)
The PSM program requires completion of 11 courses plus an internship. The 11 courses include the 3 core courses listed above and 8 elective courses. The 8 elective courses include:
Within these guidelines, there is considerable flexibility for COAST PSM students to design a suite of courses that meet their specific interests and professional needs. A Program Coordinator is available to help students select courses under a variety of themes. Course offerings are structured so that students may attend the program part-time while working full-time, as there is no residency requirement. UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology strives to schedule PSM courses to work around a regular business day.
Sequence of Courses by Semester - Typical Timelines
In the first two semesters, Professional Science Master's students normally complete the core courses and take courses towards fulfilling their elective requirements in either the sciences, policy, or "Plus" courses. Additional coursework and a one-semester internship are typically completed in the third and fourth semesters. A total of 34 credits is required for completion of the COAST PSM degree. A full-time student will normally complete the degree requirements in four semesters; a typical part-time student will do so in six semesters. The following table summarizes the sequence of courses for four semesters.
|Core Courses||Science Electives||"Plus" Courses (Policy & Core Electives)||Science and/or "Plus" Electives||Internship||Overall Total|
|Semester 1||3 credits||3-6 credits||0-3 credits||0-3 credits|
|Semester 2||3 credits||3-6 credits||0-3 credits||0-3 credits|
|Semester 3||n/a||0-9 credits||0-9 credits||0-9 credits|
|Semester 4||n/a||0-9 credits||0-9 credits||0-9 credits||1 credit|
|TOTALS||6 credits||12 credits minimum||9 credits minimum||6 credits minimum||1 credit||34 credits minimum|
*"Plus" courses currently include: PSM 545 – Professional and Scientific Communication, PSM 535 – Project Management for Science Professionals, and PSM 555 – Professional Science Leadership.
Example of a full-time COAST PSM *course sequence:
This course studies the cycle of productivity in the marine environment and the physiological and morphological adaptations of plant, animal, and bacterial populations within various oceanic regions. Interrelationships of the plankton, the nekton, and the benthos are stressed. (3 credits)
A survey of the principal topics in chemical oceanography, starting with the basic chemical and physical properties of seawater and going through the major processes shaping chemical distributions in the ocean. Throughout much of the course an interdisciplinary approach is taken, and pertinent material on the interaction between ocean chemistry and marine physics, biology, and geology is presented. Emphasis is placed on the central role of chemical oceanography in our global environment. A significant segment of the material deals directly with the ocean's role in controlling atmospheric CO2. Wherever possible, the results of recent studies are incorporated into class material. (3 credits)
Process-oriented geological oceanography starting with the history of ocean floor exploration, theories of ocean basin formation, determination of geologic time and going through the major dynamic processes shaping and characterizing the seafloor - from beaches to basins, reefs to estuaries. Overviews of marine geophysics and plate tectonics, sea level variation and the formation of coastlines and reefs, and the importance of paleoceanography to assessing climate change will be presented and discussed. Throughout the course an interdisciplinary approach is taken and pertinent material on the interaction between marine geology/sediments/sedimentation processes and marine chemistry, physics, and biology will be presented. Wherever possible, the results of recent studies and special topics will be incorporated into the class material and tailored to the students’ areas of research. (3 credits)
This course introduces the physical processes active in the ocean environment, including coastal and estuarine regions, and investigates the connection between those processes and observed physical characteristics of the ocean. Prerequisites: Physics or calculus and admission to the PSM program; or by special permission of instructor. (3 credits)
Marine Policy/Management Course
A marine policy/management course is designed for graduate students in environmental sciences with an interest in economics. It explores the use of economic analysis in helping to solve natural resource problems of the coastal zone and ocean. The course focuses on such topics as fisheries management, resource scarcity, the concept of economic efficiency, measuring the benefits of natural resources, on-shore coastal development, and depletable, recyclable, and non-recyclable resources. (3 credits)
PSM 545 Professional and Scientific Communication
This course will help students improve their professional communication. In this course, students will gain a fuller understanding of the communication process, and will gain practical experience in effective communication skills. Students will develop both written and oral communication within the context of their professional concentration. Assignments simulate those encountered in the “real-world” including persuasive presentations, oral and written reports, and communications with a variety of audiences including mainstream media and funding sources. The course will also employ newer technologies to enable students to explore the opportunities and constraints technology places on effective communication. Supplemental course reading and materials included as appropriate. (3 credits)
PSM 535 Project Management for Science Professionals
This course is designed to provide skills to prepare students to take on the role of project manager. The importance of project management is now realized by most companies where the entire business, including most of the routine activities, can be regarded as a series of projects. Project management principles provide a systematic approach to running a business; both large and small business as well as a scientific laboratory. (3 credits)
PSM 555 Professional Science Leadership
This course is designed to provide awareness and skills for effective leadership. Weekly themes include: creating an inspirational vision, entrepreneurship, building trust, conflict resolution, personal integrity and ethics, and workplace issues. This course will impart profiles of employees who flourish, plateau, or fail with leadership responsibilities. (3 credits)
Contact: Dr. James J. Bisagni
PSM Program Coordinator & Professor
Department of Estuarine & Ocean Sciences
School for Marine Science & Technology
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
200 Mill Rd., Suite 325
Fairhaven, MA 02719