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Marine Science - Master's and Doctorate

Availability: Stennis Options

What is Marine Science, and why is it important?

Humans have an intimate relationship with the ocean. It provides the air we breathe, influences weather, regulates global climate, and provides vital resources that affects every aspect of our lives. Around 40% of the world's population lives within 60 miles (100 km) of the coast, making them particularly vulnerable to changes in sea level, coastal degradation, flooding, and the damaging effects of hurricanes. The ocean economy contributes more than 300 billion dollars annually and over 3 millions jobs to the US economy. The marine environment is therefore vital to our planet and our well-being.  Marine Scientists at USM study a broad range of research themes aimed at understanding ocean processes so that we may better understand the current and future role of the ocean in Earth systems, and better preserve and protect our marine resources. 

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$10MExternal Research Funding (2017)
20Faculty active in research
5Research Vessels

What Will I Learn?

  • A working understanding of the four major fields of marine science: physical oceanography, geological oceanography, biological oceanography, and marine chemistry
  • A 'cross-discipline' appreciation of ocean processes and how they regulate global climate, marine ecosystems, and sustain global fisheries
  • A broad range of practical, analytical, and laboratory skills, including field work at sea, data analysis and state-of-the-art instrumentation
  • How to effectively communicate science to a broad audience

The foundation provided by our program has consistently assisted our students in continuing their career paths in research, teaching and other sectors around the country both at a University level as well as within federal agencies such as the Navy, NOAA, EPA, and USGS.

Admission is competitive and is based on several criteria, including GPA, course background, GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, resume/CV, and a statement of purpose.

The Marine Science programs also require each student to have a faculty sponsor, who serves as an academic and research advisor. Students are strongly encouraged to identify a faculty sponsor among the Marine Science Faculty before applying for admission, although this is not mandatory. 

All students admitted into the program will be considered for assistantship, either through research, teaching or fellowship. However, due to limited resources, the assistantships will be offered competitively.

Admission to the program is handled through the USM Graduate School. Applications must be received by March 1 for full consideration of Fall admission. The application deadline for Spring admission is September 1. These deadlines are earlier than the general deadlines set by the Graduate School.

The Marine Science program generally accepts applicants for regular admission with the following GPA:

M.S. program — A GPA of at least 3.0 on all undergraduate coursework
Ph.D. program — A GPA of at least 3.5 on all graduate coursework (if entering with a master’s degree), or a GPA of at least 3.5 on all undergraduate coursework (if entering with a bachelor’s degree)
Applicants with a GPA below the standards above have potential to receive conditional admission. Students granted conditional admission are generally not eligible for assistantship support at the time of admission.

See Step-by-Step Guide to Apply

Marine Science Graduate Fellowship

The Division of Marine Science offers a graduate fellowship each year for a prospective student seeking a PhD or MS degree in Marine Science. The fellowship covers tuition and a competitive stipend for the first year of the awardee’s program. All regular applicants are considered for this fellowship. Competitive candidates for the fellowship will have a strong academic background and prior research experience is preferred, but not required. Qualified candidates are encouraged to contact potential faculty advisors to discuss their research and education interests prior to applying to the program. This fellowship is offered for Fall entry to the program and the deadline to be considered is February 1 each year.  

Student Oceanographic Society (SOS)

The Student Oceanographic Society (SOS) was formed at the John C. Stennis Space Center in 1992 by a group of marine science graduate students from The University of Southern Mississippi Division of Marine Science. The group was formed to provide academic and networking assistance to marine science graduate students and to offer a means for the student body to voice any concerns they may have directly to the faculty. Membership is open to all part-time and full-time students enrolled in the department of marine science. SOS offers assistance with: an SOS Scholarship, social networking, help with homework, rides to and from Stennis, housing accommodation upon arrival, and proofreaders for papers and presentations. SOS encourages participation in community and departmental based social and outreach events. SOS aims to foster communication and collaboration between students and scientists across locations, including Stennis, USM Gulf Park, USM GCRL and USM Hattiesburg campus locations. Events include various educational outreach activities, student social hours, a spring crawfish boil, etc.. See our Facebook page.

For more information, contact the SOS President, Oladeji%20Siyanbola, or the SOS faculty advisor, Dr. Johnson Oguntuase.

The current officers of SOS are:

  • President: Oladeji Siyanbola
  • Vice President: Hameed Ajibade
  • Secretary: Peter Komolafe
  • Treasurer: Agno Rubim de Assis
  • Faculty: Johnson Oguntuase

Marine Technology Society (MTS)

The MTS was incorporated in June 1963 to give members of academia, government and industry a common forum for the exchange of information and ideas. The guiding purpose of MTS is to promote awareness, understanding, advancement, and application of marine technology. Today, MTS is a growing organization, boasting a membership of businesses, institutions, individual professionals and students who are ocean engineers, technologists, policy makers and educators. USM’s local chapter of MTS works with the Gulf Coast Parent chapter to fill labor gaps within the local marine-industries, facilitate a broader understanding of the relevance of marine technology to wider global issues by enhancing the dissemination of marine technology information, promote and improve marine technology and related education programs, and advance the development of the tools and procedures required to explore, study and further the responsible and sustainable use of the oceans.

For more information, contact the Chapter%20President or Chapter Advisor, Dr. Stephan Howden.

The current officers include:

  • Faculty: Stephen Howden
  • President: Corey Pagart
  • Vice President: Betina Brockamp
  • Treasurer: Tasnim Islam

Oceanic Engineering Society (OES)

Founded in 1968 as the Oceanography Coordinating Committee by members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the OES took on its current name in 1983. The society co-hosts a domestic and an international Oceans conference with the Marine Technology Society each year to foster communication between academia, government, and industry and to promote the advancement of oceanographic equipment and quality of scientific research. The vision of OES is to promote the objectives of the society around the world through networking, conferences and publications with a focus on the future through extensive support of our student and young professional members. The goals of the USM chapter are to: foster interest in marine science, hydrographic science, and ocean engineering; engage K-12 students in outreach events and technical demonstrations; communicate the importance of maritime research to coastal communities; and expand networking opportunities for student members. See our Facebook Page

For more information, contact the Chapter%20President%20or the Chapter advisor, Dr. Kemal Cambazoglu.

The current officers include:

  • Faculty: Kemal Cambazoglu  
  • President: Nahruma Mehzabeen Pieu
  • Vice President: Shihab Hossain Saran
  • Secretary: Ardian Mahiru Rizal
  • Treasurer: Yean Das

Check out our Seminar Series schedule, showcasing Marine Science research.

Publications Alumni Theses and Dissertations

The links below 'Availability' will bring you to the course requirements for each program within the USM catalog.


Degree Plan Availability
Marine Science (Hydrography) PhDStennis
Marine Science MSStennis
Marine Science PhDStennis
  • Professional Scientist
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Marine Technician
  • Program Manager
  • Eve Eisemann, MS 2016
    Research Physical Scientist Engineer Research & Development Center - US Army
  • Amanda McGehee, MS 2014
    Environmental Scientist Crescent Technology, Inc
  • Matthew Dornback, MS 2011
    Biological Oceanographer NOAA NCEI