The School of Ocean Science and Technology offers a Doctor of Philosophy in Coastal Sciences with specialization in a wide range of subdisciplines including aquaculture, coastal ecology, biodiversity and systematics, coastal geology, estuarine and marine botany, fisheries ecology, geochemistry, parasites and diseases, and toxicology. The Ph.D. program emphasizes excellence in research. Knowledge deficiencies will be corrected through enrollment in elective courses as determined by the student's four-member graduate committee.
Qualified students holding a bachelor's degree (B.S./B.A.) or M.S. degree in a relevant field of science are encouraged to apply for admission.
Admission into the Coastal Sciences program is competitive and is based on several criteria, including grade point average, course background, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, resume, and a statement of purpose.
However, we have one additional criterion that is probably more important than any of the aforementioned. The school requires a faculty sponsor. A faculty sponsor is a member of the School of Ocean Science and Technology 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.
In order to find a faculty sponsor, prospective students should consult the Coastal Sciences faculty directory to identify a faculty member with whom you might have a common interest.
Granting of regular admission to the doctor of philosophy degree program is based on several criteria, including but not limited to the following:
- Regular admission to the doctor of philosophy degree program requires a GPA at least 3.5 on all graduate coursework (if starting with a master's degree) or a GPA at least 3.5 on all undergraduate coursework (if starting with a bachelor's degree).
- Submission of official results of the general section of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Successful applicants have highly competitive scores;
- A current CV.
- A statement of purpose stating interests and career goals. The letter of intent is used as a sample of the applicant's writing and communication skills, and provides information concerning the compatibility of the applicant's interests with school research interests. Applicants should consult the Coastal Sciences faculty directory and contact potential faculty mentors prior to submitting an application. Applicants should include potential faculty mentors in their statement.
- Three letters of recommendation from people qualified to assess the applicant's readiness for graduate study.
- A minimum score of 560 on the paper test or 220 on the computer test is required on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for applicants whose native language is not English.
Because more qualified students apply to the Coastal Sciences program than can be accepted, admission is selective.
Conditional admission to the Coastal Sciences program is considered for students who meet Graduate School standards for conditional admission and who are sponsored by a member of the faculty of the School of Ocean Science and Technology. The sponsor must provide a written statement indicating willingness to serve as the applicant's major professor. Conditional students can not obtain a graduate assistantship.
Conditionally admitted students must maintain a 3.50 GPA for the first nine (9) hours of formal coursework numbered 600 and above or on all coursework taken while meeting this requirement, not including research hours and only including up to three (3) hours of Special Problems. If this requirement is not met, the student is not allowed to remain in the program. Upon recommendation of the school director and approval by the graduate dean, the conditionally admitted student may have their admission status changed to "regular admission."
Integrity Assurance Program (IAP)
All faculty holding Regular or Associate graduate faculty status must complete IAP training modules required by the Graduate School and their schools. All graduate students must complete the training modules required by the Graduate School and their schools the first semester they are enrolled in graduate school. The policy and training information can be found on the following website: http://www.usm.edu/research/research-and-scholarly-integrity-assurance-program
A minimum of eighty-four (84) hours beyond a B.S./B.A. degree or a minimum of fifty-four (54) graduate hours beyond the M.S. degree is required for this degree. Students must meet the general requirements of the Graduate School of The University of Southern Mississippi. Students advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree by completing the entire program of study (projection of coursework taken during tenure in coastal sciences; see below) developed in consultation with their graduate committee with a 3.0 grade point average or above, completing an approved dissertation prospectus, and successfully passing the written and oral comprehensive examinations.
The following list describes major additional requirements:
- Choose a major professor and establish a four-member graduate doctoral committee by the beginning of the third semester in residency;
- Develop a program of study (projection of coursework taken during tenure in Coastal Sciences) in consultation with major professor and dissertation committee by the end of the third semester of residency. Graduate students cannot accumulate more than two Cs;
- Research Tool(s). The Ph.D. program requires that the student's Ph.D. committee will convene and examine the student's academic background and progress to date and will together develop a set of research tools based on the student's goals. These research tools will not exceed a total of 15 hours in addition to the core courses and other degree requirements.
- The student will present a prospectus defense to his/her graduate committee to demonstrate an adequate depth of knowledge and ability to conduct research and pursue the Ph.D. program. For full-time students, this requirement will normally be fulfilled by the end of the second year of the student's program;
- Pass an oral and written comprehensive examination by the end of the sixth semester in residency, which is administered by the doctoral committee; and
- Present an acceptable copy of the dissertation to the graduate doctoral committee at least 10 days prior to a public defense of the dissertation at a publicly announced meeting. (See Dissertation Timetable in front section of this Bulletin.)
- A 3.0 GPA is required for graduation.
- Residency. Students must meet the residency requirements specified in the Bulletin.
- Continuous enrollment - Students must meet the requirement specified in the front section of this Bulletin.
Students should consult the COA Graduate Student Handbook for full details on school program requirements.