The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a rare mix of cultural influences derived from early French and Spanish explorers, Native Americans, and modern-day military bases that draw service members from all over the United States. With the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Mexico and 26 miles of scenic coastal beaches, visitors and residents alike enjoy everything from adventure-filled days to a slow, relaxing pace.

Each city nestled along the shoreline is a unique community with a personality of its own. From quiet fishing villages to the roar of rocket engines being tested at the Stennis Space Center, the Mississippi Gulf Coast embraces the diversity of its inhabitants in a “live and let live” philosophy that brings many visitors back for the remainder of their lives.

Having weathered the worst storms that nature has unleashed on the United States with Hurricane Camille in 1969 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the inhabitants of the Mississippi Gulf Coast are a rare breed of resilient and welcoming people.

Because of the diverse population of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, The University of Southern Mississippi has always sought to bring higher education to the people of the Coast where it suits them best. With Coastal Sciences taught at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory on the beachfront in Ocean Springs, all six colleges represented at the beautiful and historic Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach, and the Marine Sciences taught at the home of the world’s largest population of oceanographers at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, true university degrees are in reach for all of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach, Mississippi is home to one of the Mississippi Gulf Coast's greatest treasures, the Friendship Oak, an enormous, sprawling live oak tree that has marked more than 500 years by the Gulf of Mexico.