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Summer Field Program

Summer Field Program

Depending on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible courses may be shifted to a hybrid, or partially web-supplemented, format. The safety of students and staff is of the highest importance and any decisions will be made in the best interest of health and safety. Once you have applied for the program, your contact information will be on file, and you will be notified if there are any changes to course format. Information will also be posted on the GCRL Summer Field Program Facebook page. The most up to date university-wide information can be found on USM’s COVID-19 response website


The University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory was established in Ocean Springs, Mississippi in 1947 and is home to the Summer Field Program. The Summer Field Program is designed to allow undergraduate an intensive field- and lab-based setting.


Make your plans today to attend the GCRL Summer Field Program and gain an experience of a lifetime!

The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) provides undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to learn about coastal environments in an intensive field and lab based setting. On-site amenities include research vessels, dormitory, dining hall, research labs, library, and a specimen museum. Classes are extremely intense and immerse you in the subject matter. Most classes are conducted in a focused laboratory and field setting. Courses that include heavy field work utilize the GCRL fleet of research vessels to explore the Mississippi Sound and barrier islands. In addition to local boat and field trips, some classes take overnight trips to other areas of the Gulf of Mexico. Students fully embrace the beautiful Gulf and the unique habitats in our area.


BrochureStudent HandbookCurrent Students

The Summer Field Program runs May 24-June 23 (Session 1), and June 24-July 26 (Session II). A student may enroll in only one course each session. Students should not take classes at other campuses while taking field courses at GCRL. 


SUMMER SESSION I — May 24-June 23

  • Elasmobranch Biology (Shark Biology) — In-person in summer 2021
  • Marine Conservation — Online only in summer 2021
  • Marine Invertebrate Zoology — Online only in summer 2021
  • Marine Science I - Oceanography — In-person in summer 2021
  • Research Study Program

SUMMER SESSION II — June 24-July 26

  • Marine Animal Behavior — Online only in summer 2021
  • Marine Ichthyology — In-person in summer 2021
  • Marine Mammals — Online only in summer 2021
  • Marine Sciences II - Marine Biology — In-person in summer 2021
  • Research Study Program

Course Descriptions can be found here.


Email margaret.firthFREEMississippi or call 228.818.8852


  • Undergraduate Students

Apply to the GCRL Summer Field Program here.

    • $40 non-refundable application processing fee for undergraduate students (fees not applicable to current USM students) Make Check payable to The University of Southern Mississippi.
    • Official transcript (electronic transcripts preferred, send to
    • Copy of immunization records

Official transcript, Application Fee and Immunization Record can be sent electronically to or mailed to the
Division of Coastal Sciences
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Attn: Margaret Firth
703 East Beach Drive • Ocean Springs, MS 39564



All students must have a valid University of Southern Mississippi parking permit. Parking permits can be purchased online through the University of Southern Mississippi Parking and Transit Services website: Summer parking permits cost $25 and are valid from May 15, 2021, through July 31, 2021. USM students with a valid annual permit do not need to purchase a summer permit for GCRL. If students are taking classes for more than one term, they do not need to purchase more than one parking permit.


A limited number of assistantships and scholarships are available to qualifying students attending the GCRL Summer Field Program. For more information, contact us at margaret.firthFREEMississippi.%C2%A0


If a student has a disability that qualifies under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and requires accommodations, he/she should contact the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) for information on appropriate policies and procedures. Disabilities covered by ADA may include learning, psychiatric, physical disabilities, or chronic health disorders. Students can contact ODA if they are not certain whether a medical condition/disability qualifies.  
   The University of Southern Mississippi
   Office for Disability Accommodations
   118 College Drive # 8586
   Hattiesburg, MS   39406-0001
   Voice Telephone:  601.266.5024 or 228.214.3232    Fax: 601.266.6035

Individuals with hearing impairments can contact ODA using the Mississippi Relay Service at 1.800.582.2233 (TTY) or email ODA at odaFREEMississippi.


The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory's air-conditioned dormitory houses two students per room. Suites consist of four rooms and a common bathroom facility. Requests for housing are filled as received. Married couples must make their own arrangements for off-site housing. All rooms have Internet access via WiFi. For more housing information please contact Benjamin.WeldonFREEMississippi.

The dining hall serves three meals daily. Students should bring linens, towels, and clothing suitable for field work, such as shorts, bathing suits, hat, long-sleeved shirt and light-weight pants, washable athletic shoes, polarized sunglasses as well as a good sunblock. Laundry facilities are available on-site.

Dormitory stays typically provide excellent opportunities to meet other students, as well as to engage in study groups, water sports, fishing, golf, tennis, biking, weight lifting, aerobics, and hiking that form some of the many summer pastimes on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The community of Ocean Springs, as well as the neighboring cities of Biloxi, Gulfport, Gautier, and Pascagoula provide ample opportunities for shopping, banking, dining, and recreation. New Orleans is less than two hours away by care. Mobile, Alabama is about an hour drive.

Summers are hot on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and students should be prepared to protect themselves from intense sunshine. Bring a good sunblock, hat, sunglasses and a reusable waterbottle.



All courses are offered through the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in the Division of Coastal Sciences and are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Upon completion, a transcript request must be submitted to transfer credit hours to home institution.


  • MISSISSIPPI – Alcorn State University, Lorman; Belhaven College, Jackson; Delta State University, Cleveland; Jackson State University, Jackson; Millsaps College, Jackson; Mississippi College, Clinton; Mississippi State University, Mississippi State; Mississippi University for Women, Columbus; Mississippi Valley State University, Itta Bena; Rust College, Holly Springs; The University of Mississippi, University; The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg; William Carey University, Hattiesburg
  • ALABAMA – Auburn University, Auburn
  • ARKANSAS – Arkansas Tech University, Russellville; Hendrix College, Conway; Southern Arkansas University, Magnolia; University of Arkansas at Ft. Smith; University of Arkansas at Little Rock; University of Arkansas at Monticello; University of Central Arkansas, Conway; University of the Ozarks, Clarksville
  • FLORIDA – University of Tampa, Tampa
  • GEORGIA – Berry College, Rome; Shorter College, Rome
  • ILLINOIS – North Central College, Naperville; Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
  • INDIANA – University of Evansville, Evansville
  • IOWA – Drake University, Des Moines; Iowa State University, Ames; Wartburg College, Waverly
  • KENTUCKY – Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond; Morehead State University, Morehead
  • LOUISIANA – Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge; Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond; Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans
  • MICHIGAN – Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant
  • MISSOURI – Central Methodist University, Fayette; Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville; Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau; Missouri State University, Springfield; Truman State University, Kirksville
  • NEW YORK – State University of New York, Potsdam
  • OHIO – Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green
  • OKLAHOMA – Northeastern State University, Tahlequah; Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Weatherford
  • SOUTH CAROLINA – Presbyterian College, Clinton
  • TENNESSEE – Belmont University, Nashville; Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City; Christian Brothers University, Memphis; Lambuth University, Jackson; Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro; Rhodes College, Memphis; Tennessee State University, Nashville; Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville; Tennessee Wesleyan College, Athens; Trevecca-Nazarene University, Nashville; Union University, Jackson; University of Memphis, Memphis; University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; University of Tennessee at Martin
  • WISCONSIN – University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire; University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point