The Department of Coastal Sciences offers a Master of Science 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. Knowledge deficiencies will be corrected through completion of elective courses as determined by the student's three-member graduate committee.
Admission into the Department of Coastal Sciences is competitve and is based on several criteria, including grade point average, course background, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, resume, and a letter of interest.
However, we have one additional criterion that is probably more important than any of the aforementioned. The Department requires a faculty sponsor. A faculty sponsor is a member of the Department of Coastal Sciences who is willing to serve as the students major professor and provides funds for an assistantship and resources to perform the students thesis research.
In order to try and find a faculty sponsor, prospective students should consult our online faculty directory to identify a faculty member with whom you might have a common interest.
- submission of complete undergraduate transcript(s). Regular admission to the master of science degree program requires a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 in the last two years of undergraduate credit, a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 in a science-based major, and an overall GPA of 3.0 or above;
- submission of official results of the general sections of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Successful applicants have highly competitive scores;
- a letter of intent stating interests and career goals as well as three letters of recommendation. The letters of recommendation should be from people qualified to assess the applicant's readiness for graduate study. The department will not initiate its review of an application until the letter of intent and letters of recommendation are provided. The letter of intent is used as an example of the applicant's writing and communication skills, and provides information concerning the compatibility of the applicant's interests with departmental research interests. The letter of intent and letters of recommendation should be uploaded as part of the application in the applications portal.
- 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 Department of Coastal Sciences than can be accepted, admission is selective and a complete application must be submitted.
Conditional admission to the Department of Coastal Sciences is considered for students who meet Graduate School standards for conditional admission and who are sponsored by a member of the faculty of Coastal Sciences. The sponsor must provide a written statement indicating willingness to serve as the applicant's major professor. Conditional students cannot obtain a departmental assistantship but can be awarded a research stipend from a major professor's grant.
Conditionally admitted students must maintain a 3.0 GPA for the first nine (9) hours of formal coursework numbered 500 and above or on all coursework taken while meeting this nine (9)-hour 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 department chair and approval by the graduate dean, the conditionally admitted student may have his or her admission status changed to "regular admission."
Plan of Study. Students must submit their signed, official Plan of Study Form to the Graduate School by the end of the second semester they are enrolled. The Plan of Study Forms are available at www.usm.edu/graduateschool/planofstudy.php - click on the "Plans of Study" link.
Research and Scholarly Integrity Education
All faculty holding Regular or Associate graduate faculty status, must complete CITI training modules required by the Graduate School and their departments. All graduate students must complete the CITI training modules required by the Graduate School and their departments the first semester they are enrolled in graduate school. The RSIE policy and training information are found on the Graduate School web page –www.usm.edu/graduate-school. Contact the Dean of the Graduate School if you have any questions regarding the policy of training information.
A minimum of thirty (30) graduate hours 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 M.S. 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 thesis prospectus, and successfully passing the oral or written thesis comprehensive examination or both.
The following list describes major additional requirements:
- Choose a major professor and establish a three-member graduate thesis committee by the end of the second semester in residency;
- Develop a program of study in consultation with a major professor and thesis committee by the end of the second semester of residency. Graduate students cannot accumulate more than two Cs;
- Submit a research prospectus approved by the graduate thesis committee by the end of the third semester in residency;
- Pass an oral or written comprehensive examination or both by the end of the third semester in residency (administered by the thesis committee); and
- Present an acceptable copy of the thesis to the graduate thesis committee at least 10 days prior to a public defense of the thesis at a publicly announced meeting. (See Thesis Timetable at www.usm.edu/graduateschool.) A 3.0 GPA is required to graduate.
- Continuous enrollment - Students must meet the requirement specified in the front section of this Bulletin.