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Professor Miles Sundermeyer and student on mixing cruise

Master's Program Requirements

‌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 3 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 2 semesters), and each student must present at least 1 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 4 semesters. 

Part-time MS students are encouraged to take 2 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 9 credits of coursework beyond the 24 specified above, 3 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 3 core courses, which are defined as 2 courses from the biological, chemical, and/or physical oceanography series, and 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 2 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 3.00 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
MREC Marine Renewable Energy Collaborative
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 4 semesters, for which students receive 1 credit for each of the first 2 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 6 thesis credits. There is no maximum number of thesis credits; however, only 6 are counted toward the 36 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.

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 6 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. Apply now.

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