School of Ocean Science and Engineering
School of Ocean Science and Engineering
Thank you for your interest in the graduate programs of the Division of Marine Science!
(DMS) Here you will be equipped to help understand the current and future role of
the ocean in Earth systems and better preserve and protect our marine resources. Current
research programs support graduate students in investigations related to physical
oceanography, geological oceanography, biological oceanography, marine chemistry and
Much of our success depends on the scholarly efforts of our graduate students and we seek highly motivated and talented M.S. and Ph.D. candidates with diverse backgrounds and experiences to join our program. Should you have any questions, please contact the DMS Academic Coordinator at Dajaneir.ThompsonFREEMississippi for more information.
Identify Faculty Sponsor
Prepare Application Material
Before applying to the graduate program, you should first determine if USM and DMS is the right place for you. We encourage you to spend some time researching the DMS website and faculty web pages to get a feel for research programs, facilities, and other available university resources. Think about why you want a M.S. or Ph.D. degree in Marine Sciences, and how getting that degree from DMS will help you reach your career goals.
Importantly, DMS requires that each student accepted into the program have a faculty sponsor. A faculty sponsor is a member of the DMS faculty who is willing to serve as the student's major professor and provides funds for an assistantship and resources to perform the student’s research. This is one of the most important decisions a student will make, as the faculty sponsor will be their primary mentor throughout their graduate program. Students are required to identify a faculty sponsor before applying for admission.
To find a faculty sponsor, prospective students should consult the Marine Science Faculty Directory to identify and contact a faculty member with whom they might have a common interest. It is often best to reach out to a faculty member via email, with a brief letter of introduction. Faculty members will want to set up an interview with a prospectus student to discuss their interests and potential thesis or dissertation ideas.
Nearly all DMS graduate students are supported by external grants awarded to DMS faculty.
These grants provide funds for student stipends, tuition, and research needs. In addition
to a strong application, a faculty member’s willingness and ability to accept a new
student will often depend on the availability of funding. Additional funding opportunities
include the DMS Graduate Fellowship, and external sources, such as the National Science
Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). Applicants are encouraged to discuss funding needs with their prospective mentor.
Once you have decided that DMS is the right path for you, and have communicated with a potential faculty sponsor, then you are ready to officially apply to the DMS graduate program. Find the instructions.
Application materials will include the following:
For the M.S. program, a GPA of at least 3.0 on all undergraduate coursework is required.
For the Ph.D. program, a GPA of at least 3.5 on all graduate coursework (if entering with a M.S. degree) or a GPA of at least 3.5 on all undergraduate coursework (if entering with a bachelor's degree) is required.
Please note that these GPA criteria are higher than the minimum standards for regular
admission as set forth by the USM Graduate School. Applicants with a GPA below the
standards above have potential to receive conditional admission. However, students
granted conditional admission to the DMS graduate program are not eligible for any
graduate assistantship positions regardless of the source of funding.
Admission is competitive and based on the DMS faculty's evaluation of the entire graduate application. Strong letters of recommendation often weigh heavily, particularly those from undergraduate research mentors, academic advisors, and instructors. Each faculty member brings their own unique perspective to the evaluation, but often include some of the following considerations, among others:
After careful review of each application, the DMS faculty votes as to whether applicants
are admitted into the program.
Once you select from the application category that applies to you, create an account or sign in to the application portal. It's simple, get started today!
For a university to receive your official college transcripts, you’ll need to contact your old institution’s Registrar’s Office. (This might be called the “Records Office” at some institutions.) The Registrar’s Office will send your transcripts directly from their office to the admissions office of the university you’re hoping to attend. They can send your transcripts through Electronic Delivery (Email), FedEx/UPS, or U.S. Mail. Getting your transcripts emailed to the university you’re applying to is the fastest, easiest method!
Note: Most universities do charge a small fee for sending your official transcripts to other institutions.
The statement of purpose is a critical part of the application, and often the faculty's "first impression" of a potential candidate. There are many guides on the web that provide valuable tips on how to write an impactful statement of purpose; here are a few:
In addition to contacting faculty, it is often helpful to reach out to current DMS graduate students to get their opinions about the program. These students are where you hope to be some day, and they can provide first hand information on what its like to work, learn, and succeed in our program.
Follow-up with references to make sure letters are submitted