Professional Science Master's Program

Marine Science and Technology PSM

apply nowCOAST Professional Science Master's Degree Program at SMAST
Contact: Dr. Steven Lohrenz
PSM Program Coordinator & Dean
School for Marine Science & Technology
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
706 S Rodney French Blvd
New Bedford, MA 02744
(508) 910-6550


Today's professionals in the maritime sectors of industry, government, Jennifer Berlinghoffand 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.

Core Courses

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:

  • Four (4) science electives -- 12 credits
  • Two (2) elective "Plus"* courses -- 6 credits (includes such areas as communication, project management, and leadership; see course descriptions below)
  • Two (2) science OR two (2) elective "Plus" courses, selected to fit the student's area of concentration -- 6 credits

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  InternshipOverall 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:

Semester 1:

  • Physical Oceanography
  • U.S. Ocean Policy
  • Quantitative Methods for Marine Scientists

Semester 2:

  • Chemical Oceanography
  • Project Management for Science Professionals
  • Physics of Fluids

Semester 3:

  • Professional and Scientific Communication
  • Coastal Physical Oceanography
  • Marine Biogeochemical Cycles

Semester 4:

  • Pollutant Transport in the Environment
  • Professional Science Leadership
  • Internship

*For coming semester's offerings, see SMAST Course List.

*For full course descriptions, see UMassD Graduate Catalog.

Core Courses (at least two required for PSM):

Biological Oceanography
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)

Chemical Oceanography
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)

Geological Oceanography
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)

Physical Oceanography
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)


"Plus" Courses (taught on line):

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)

COAST Professional Science Master's Degree Program at SMAST
Contact: Dr. Steven Lohrenz
PSM Program Coordinator & Dean
School for Marine Science & Technology
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
706 S Rodney French Blvd
New Bedford, MA 02744
(508) 910-6550



COAST PSM Internship

A key component of the COAST PSM program is to complete an internship in a company, non-governmental organization, government agency, or university research laboratory setting. The COAST PSM internship is worth at least 1 credit. Your internship must be directly related to your area of study. In the case that you do your internship in the context of your current employment, the internship project must be distinctly different from your regular duties and thereby display some of your newly acquired COAST PSM program skills. Once you have decided where you will do your internship, you must submit an Internship Proposal to your advisor for review and approval. During your internship, you will be required to submit periodic updates to your advisor.  You will cap off your internship with a final report and oral presentation.

Finding an Internship: We strongly encourage you to begin your search for an internship opportunity as soon as you start your PSM program. As a first step, you should discuss possible internship opportunities with your PSM advisor. You are also encouraged to network with your professors, advisors, and professional colleagues. Regionally, there are many potential internship opportunities. SMAST is located in a business cluster of more than 200 marine and environmental science and ocean technology firms, with more than 200 industry, government and non-profit organizations located within a 90-minute commute. Check early on because many organizations have internship programs with fixed application processes and time lines.  The *Tables below list some of the organizations for that have either employed or provided internships for SMAST graduate students, or have expressed interest in working more closely with SMAST students and faculty.

Internship Timing: While internships can be done at any time during your program, many students seek an internship during the summer following their first year of study. If you do your internship during the summer, then it may be possible to obtain more than 1 academic credit for the effort.


- Internship Agreement and Proposal Approval Form

- Internship Proposal and Final Report Guidelines



 Table 1a. Local Internship Opportunities: Industry




Edgetech, Inc.

Wareham, MA
Teledyne Webb Research, Benthos, Gavia Falmouth, MA
Woods Hole Group

Falmouth, MA
Lockheed Martin Sippican
Marion, MA
AIS Observers

New Bedford, MA
Buyers & Sellers Exchange


Table 1b. Local Internship Opportunities: Government Agencies




NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NMFS: National Marine Fisheries Service Woods Hole, MA

Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary Scituate, MA

US EPA: Environmental Protection Agency Narragansett, RI
MA Division of Marine Fisheries Boston, MA

MA Department of Environmental Protection Boston, MA

MA Office of Coastal Zone Management Boston, MA
New England Fishery Management Council

New Bedford Harbor Development Commission


Table 1c. Local Internship Opportunities: Non-Profit Organizations




MA Audubon
The Nature Conservancy
Ocean River Institute Cambridge, MA


Conservation Law Foundation
Boston, MA. & Providence, RI
Marine Technology Society

Washington, DC
Marine and Oceanographic Technology Network (MOTN)  Falmouth, MA
SeaPlan Boston, MA


Table 1d. Local Internship Opportunities: Research Organizations




Mid-Atlantic Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems (MARACOOS) New Bedford, MA
Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal and Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS) Portsmouth, NH
Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies Provincetown, MA
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth/SMAST New Bedford, MA
University of Rhode Island/GSO  Narragansett, RI
Cape Cod Fishermen's Alliance
Northeast Seafood Coalition Gloucester, MA
Center for Sustainable Fisheries
Environmental Defense Fund
Fishery Survival Fund
Saving Seafood
Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation
Gulf of Maine Research Institute Portland, ME
Maria Mitchell Association  Nantucket, MA
Lloyd Center for the Environment  Marion, MA
Sea Education Association Falmouth, MA


*The above list of internship opportunities is by no means exhaustive, but is provided as a sample of the types of organizations a COAST PSM student might consider. Internship offerings vary in date, duration and availability. 

Jennifer Berlinghoff is interested in coastal wetland change, especially in the dynamic environment of southern Louisiana. She gained experience with vegetation transects and shoreline survey data collection and analysis while working in the salt marsh and mangrove habitats of the Mississippi River Delta Plain in the years following the Mississippi Canyon Block 252 (MC252) oil spill.

Jennifer received a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University at Buffalo. Since 2009, she has worked for Applied Coastal Research and Engineering (Cape Cod, MA), as an environmental scientist/coastal geographic information systems analyst. A majority of Jen's work has been related to wetland change and sediment transport in the Gulf of Mexico. She is currently working towards a Professional Science Master's Degree in Coastal Administration, Science, and Technology.


Micheline (Michie) Labrie has interests in marine mammal management. Working with marine mammals and sea turtles, she completed internships at the Marine Animal Rehabilitation and Conservation Program at the University of New England and the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Mississippi.

Micheline graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in Biology. While at UNH she worked as a research assistant looking at various symbiotic microbes that can influence metabolism and cycling of inorganic nitrogen in the giant barrel sponge Xestospongia muta. Micheline is currently finishing up her work with the giant barrel sponge and is continuing her studies in the Professional Science Master's program.


Gillian Lake has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and recently completed a graduate certification in environmental policy here at UMass Dartmouth. Her analytical experience includes method development, raw material analysis, fluid analysis and coated product analysis. At Polaroid Corporation she helped implement and managed two analytical laboratories. Gillian's academic interests include point source pollution, fisheries and estuaries.


Jasmine Smith-Gillen graduated with a Bachelor's in Marine Biology from Boston University in 2003. Since then, she has worked at non-profit organizations as an environmental educator. She teaches elementary-aged children science concepts during field trips and in classroom programs. She also writes grants, develops new curricula, and maintains saltwater aquaria at her work's Visitor Center. Ms. Smith-Gillen is a part-time PSM student. Her interests include the local gray seal population and the ecological impacts of offshore wind facilities.