Current Academic Program Requirements

MS Program | PhD Program | PSM Program


Current Academic Program Requirements for the MS Program

Summary

Core Course Requirements

Concentration and Electives

Weekly Seminars

Thesis and Non-Thesis Options

Early Transition to PhD Track

 

Summary

The MS Program requires a minimum of 30 credit hours with the thesis option and 33 credit hours with the non-thesis option.  MS students are required to take three core courses (9 credits) and choose additional elective courses (15 credits minimum, which does not include thesis credits) appropriate to a selected area of concentration, also know as the option area of study.  Attendance at a weekly seminar series is required (1 credit each for two semesters), and each student must present at least one seminar in their third or fourth semester.  Students are guided during their academic experience by an advisor and, if desired, a guidance committee made up of their advisor and several other faculty.  Full-time MS students normally complete their degree requirements in four semesters.  Part-time MS students are encouraged to take two courses per semester.  Each student electing the non-thesis option must complete a substantial research paper that must be read and approved by the major advisor and at least one other faculty member.  Non-thesis students must also take nine credits of coursework beyond the 24 specified above, three credits of which can count toward a directed study used to write the substantial research paper.

Core Course Requirements

Each MS student must successfully complete three core courses, which are defined as two (2) courses from the biological, chemical, and/or physical oceanography series, and one (1) course in the marine policy and/or management area (including law and economics).  The policy/management course should coincide with the student's selected option area of study.

Courses covering technology and quantitative skills are generally subject to student choice and advisor approval, although there may be requirements specific to each option area.  These courses are aimed at ensuring that all students master key concepts and skills central to an interdisciplinary marine sciences and technology graduate program. Students normally complete the core courses in the first two semesters.

Successful performance in the core courses is required for advancement to degree status.  Grades of B- or better in each core course and an overall average of 3.0 in the core courses are required.  There is one retake option with a grade replacement on a course for which the student receives a grade lower than B-.

Concentrations and Electives

To build on the core courses, each student selects an option area and chooses electives appropriate to this concentration, as approved by their faculty advisor and/or thesis committee.  Option areas, which are intended as guidelines, are listed below: 

MASMA Marine and Atmospheric System Modeling and Analysis
CSS Coastal Systems Science
ICM Integrated Coastal Management
LMRSM Living Marine Resources Science and Management
MBEC Marine Biogeochemical Cycles and Environmental Change
MOT Marine Observation Technologies
OHH Ocean and Human Health

 

Weekly Seminars

Weekly seminars presented by visiting speakers are intended to broaden the scope of each student's experience and to provide experience in verbal communication.  Each MS 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 subsequent semesters.

Thesis Option

MS Thesis Committee:  Each MS student electing the thesis option is required to form a thesis committee, chaired by the student's major advisor.  In consultation with the major faculty advisor, the student selects additional faculty (2 minimum) who constitute the student's thesis committee.  Committee members may be selected from among UMass faculty, other departments, and/or other institutions  The selection of committee members is subject to the approval of the department chair, the graduate program director (campus coordinator), and the Dean. 

Thesis Credit Requirement:  MS thesis students must register for a minimum of six thesis credits.  There is no maximum number of thesis credits; however, only six are counted toward the thirty-credit requirement.  MS candidates will not be recommended to the Board of Trustees for the MS degree unless they have the requisite number of thesis credits.

Early Transition to PhD Track

Under special circumstances, MS degree candidates may apply to the Admissions Committee for acceptance into the PhD track without completion of an MS thesis.  Admission Committee recommendations will be based on original credentials supplied at the time of admission, subsequent performance in their MS program, and recommendations from the student's advisor and Guidance Committee.  Admission Committee recommendations are forwarded to the Dean for action.


Current Academic Program Requirements for the PhD Program

Summary

Core Course Requirements

Concentrations and Electives

Weekly Seminars

Residency Requirement

Candidacy Examinations and Dissertation

 

Summary

The PhD program requires a minimum of fifty four credit hours. Each PhD student must complete four core courses, one in each of four core areas: biological oceanography, chemical oceanography, physical oceanography, and the marine policy and/or management areas (including law and economics). Work in the concentration area includes a minimum of 24 credit hours of formal courses (in addition to the core courses and which includes elective and seminar courses and does not include dissertation research) and helps the student prepare for the written and oral candidacy examinations. It is also required that students apply a minimum of 18 credit hours toward dissertation research. PhD students are not normally accepted as part-time students.

Core Course Requirements

Each PhD student must successfully complete four core courses, which are defined as:

  • Three (3) courses: biological, chemical, and physical oceanography.
  • One (1) course in marine policy and/or management area (including law and economics).

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. These courses will ensure that all students master key concepts and skills central to an interdisciplinary marine sciences graduate program. Students normally complete the core courses in the first two semesters.

Successful performance in the core courses is required for advancement to degree status. Grades of B-or better in each core course and an overall average of 3.0 in the core courses are required. There is one retake option on a course for which the student receives a grade of B-or less.

Concentrations and Electives

To build on the core courses, each student selects an area of concentration and chooses electives appropriate to this concentration, as approved by their faculty advisor and/or thesis committee.  Option areas, which are intended as guidelines, are listed below:

MASMA - Marine and Atmospheric System Modeling and Analysis
CSS - Coastal Systems Science
ICM - Integrated Coastal Management
LMRSM - Living Marine Resources Science and Management
MBEC - Marine Biogeochemical Cycles and Environmental Change
MOT - Marine Observation Technologies
OHH - Ocean and Human Health

Weekly Seminars

Weekly seminars presented by visiting speakers are intended to broaden the scope of each student’s experience and to provide experience in verbal communication. Each PhD student will present at least one seminar each year after the first year. Attendance at the weekly seminars is required, for which students receive 1 credit for each of the first two semesters but no credit after the first year.

Residency Requirement

A doctoral candidate must spend the equivalent of at least one continuous academic year of full-time graduate work (nine credits per semester) in residence at the university. The residency year must be either in a Fall/Spring or Spring/Fall sequence. During this year, the student must spend a substantial part of each week physically on campus.

Candidacy Examinations and Dissertation

General Comprehensive Examination:  The academic activities of each doctoral degree candidate are guided during his/her first four semesters by an advisor and, in cases, a guidance committee.  By the end of their fifth semester, doctoral candidates are expected to have taken a general examination to determine their suitability to proceed. During their fourth semester, a general comprehensive examination committee is formed. The comprehensive examination committee can consist of the candidate’s guidance committee members, but it should include faculty who may be part of the Dissertation Committee.

No later than the sixth semester, the student's committee administers the general comprehensive examination, which has a written and oral component. The general comprehensive examinations cover the core areas and the student's area of concentration. Examinations are designed to test the intellectual competence and maturity of the student in the broad area of marine sciences and in the selected area of concentration.

Examination Guidelines: 

  • The candidate’s general examination committee constructs a general exam, with both written and oral components, that examines the candidate’s mastery of material from their core and formal courses as well as knowledge and skills needed for their dissertation work.
  • The written comprehensive exam is given over 2 days, each in a 4-hour block. The first day is closed book and the second day is open book. 25% of the exam will be on core-course material, and the other 75% will be in the research area of the student. The exam should include one or more interdisciplinary "super­problems" that require the candidate to integrate material from several disciplines. The exam will test the students on both core concepts in biological, chemical and physical oceanography and material from the candidate’s formal course work.
  • The core-course exam problems will be provided by the professors of the core courses and will be graded by them. Professors will return the graded core-course question to the exam committee who will add this to the other questions to determine the final exam grade of the student.
  • The portion of the written general exam covering the candidate’s formal course work may be derived from questions generated by the general examination committee and solicited from the course instructors, where possible. These questions may be “stand-alone” or may be integrated into the “super-problems” part of the exam.
  • Within three months of passing the general examination, the candidate should publicly present and defend the PhD dissertation proposal part of their oral exam. The rest of the oral exam on more general topics is held at the same time as the thesis proposal defense.
  • If student fails the written and/or oral part of the general examination, he/she must formally petition the general examination committee to retake the examination. At the discretion of the general examination committee, students may be allowed to retake the written exam one time and the oral exam one time.

Upon successful completion of the PhD general comprehensive examinations, the student can be awarded an MS degree if the appropriate course work has been completed (24 credits total).

Dissertation:

A scholarly dissertation based on original research is required of all PhD 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.

The dissertation must be typed in a proscribed style and format on acid-free paper. The dissertation must be approved and signed by all members of the dissertation committee and the Department Head/Chair. The original dissertation and one copy are required, and fees must be paid to cover binding and microfilming costs.

For complete details of dissertation preparation and submission, please refer to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Requirements for Theses and Dissertations.

 


Current Academic Program Requirements for the Professional Science Master's Program

Summary

Core Course

Concentration and Electives

Sequence of Courses by Semester

Application Requirements

 

Summary

Today's professionals in the maritime sectors of industry and government are expected to help develop policy options and manage natural resources based on the best science and technology. Similarly, technologists, engineers, and scientists are faced with managing personnel, funds, and businesses in challenging fiscal and policy environments. 

The new Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree program, offered through the UMass intercampus marine science program, is an opportunity for students who wish to pursue a non-thesis degree that focuses on science management. This degree in Coastal and Ocean Administration, Science and Technology (COAST) blends a study of science with coursework in management, policy, or law.  The COAST track also has a strong emphasis on writing and communication skills. 

This unique combination will allow students to enter the workforce immediately as science professionals, working in organizations that specialize in the sciences.  For those already in the workforce, the PSM is an excellent way to broaden their knowledge of both the science and business practices of their employer.

Core Courses

Each Professional Science Master's (PSM) student must complete three core courses (9 credits), which includes two (2) out the three (3) core courses in biological, chemical, and physical oceanography. A course in geological oceanography is also considered a core course for the PSM degree only. An additional, third core course in marine policy and/or management areas (including law and economics) is also required.

Core courses are intended to provide a common grounding in the biological, chemical, physical, and geological oceanographic areas of marine sciences and technology, as well as the marine policy and/or management disciplines. Courses covering technology and quantitative skills are generally subject to student choice and guidance committee approval, though there may be requirements specific to each option area. 

Concentration and Electives - Professional Science Master's

The COAST track of the PSM degree program provides an opportunity for marine business professionals to further their education by offering coursework in the marine sciences, engineering, business management, resource management, and public policy, among other subjects.

The program requires completion of 11 courses plus an internship.  The 11 courses include 3 core courses and 8 elective courses. The 8 elective courses include:

  • 4 science electives — 12 credits
  • 2 elective "Plus" courses — 6 credits (includes management, policy, and law)
  • 2 science OR 2 elective "Plus" courses, selected to fit the student's area of concentration — 6 credits

Within these guidelines, there is considerable flexibility for the student to design a suite of courses that meet their specific interests and professional needs. A Program Director is available to help students select clusters of courses under a variety of themes. Course offerings are structured so that you may attend the program part-time while working full-time at local marine-related businesses and agencies.

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 in the sciences, policy, or "Plus" courses. Additional coursework and the completion of a one-semester internship with reflection are typically completed in the third and fourth semesters. A minimum of 34 credits is required for a degree. All graduate courses approved by the student's advisor count toward the credit requirement.

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

 

Application Requirements

Successful applicants will generally have completed an undergraduate or graduate degree with a GPA of 3.00 or better. They will also have an undergraduate major in one of the basic scientific disciplines or engineering, or will have strong multidisciplinary training with completion of at least six semesters of coursework in the natural sciences, generally to include biology, chemistry, and/or physics. Preparation in mathematics at least through integral calculus is strongly encouraged.

 

 

 

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