Jun 13, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Bulletin 
2022-2023 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Gulf Coast History

Return to: University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast  

Academic Programs

The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast provides a flexible educational delivery system designed to respond to the needs of the constituency served. A sufficient number of courses are offered so that students may earn bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in a variety of specialty areas. As the scope of the University’s programs broaden in response to students’ needs, additional areas of specialization will become available. 

Southern Miss operates under the semester calendar and awards semester-hour credits for all courses. Classes meet in the morning, afternoon and evening.


The genesis of The University of Southern Mississippi on the Mississippi Gulf Coast goes back to 1947 when what was then Mississippi Southern College first organized classes at Van Hook Hall, Methodist Camp Grounds, in Biloxi. At that time, there were no permanent personnel assigned. In 1958, classroom space and facilities for Mississippi Southern College on the Gulf Coast were furnished by Mary L. Michel Junior High School in Biloxi, and thus the operation moved from the Methodist Camp Grounds. At that time, one person was assigned permanently to a combined teaching and administrative position. For teaching personnel, MSC on the Gulf Coast drew upon the talents of local professors, teachers and qualified instructors. Supplementing this teaching group were occasional professors who commuted from the main Hattiesburg campus to teach night courses.

By 1962, Mississippi Southern College attained university status and was renamed The University of Southern Mississippi. In the 1960s, the demand for education in all phases grew to the extent that course offerings were broadened to meet the needs of various occupational fields and interests. Included in these categories were Keesler Air Force Base personnel and their dependents; the industrial community, including Ingalls Ship Yard in Pascagoula; NASA at Bay St. Louis; civil service personnel associated with the naval base at Gulfport; the two Veterans Administration hospitals and other government agencies.

By the end of the 1964 summer session, The University of Southern Mississippi moved from Mary L. Michel Junior High School to Keesler Air Force Base. In September 1965, in addition to KAFB, more classroom facilities were obtained for night classes from the Jefferson Davis Campus of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College District. The addition was called The University of Southern Mississippi Harrison County Resident Center. In September 1966, the University further extended its offerings by adding the Jackson County Resident Center, located on the Jackson County Campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College in Gautier.

In March 1972, The University of Southern Mississippi Harrison County Resident Center program moved from the Jefferson Davis Campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College to the campus of the former Gulf Park College for Women located on Highway 90 in Long Beach. In July 1972, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning established The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus and Keesler Air Force Base teaching sites as an upper-level, degree-completion regional campus of The University of Southern Mississippi. The Jackson County Resident Center continued as a teaching site to deliver higher education programs and courses to the citizens of Jackson County. A new building to provide facilities for the Jackson County Resident Center was constructed and equipped by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors in 1982-83.

By this time, a comprehensive plan was developed for providing needed higher education opportunities on the Gulf Coast. The plan entailed close cooperation and coordination between the Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College District, which would be responsible for all freshman and sophomore courses, and The University of Southern Mississippi, which would be responsible for all junior, senior and graduate offerings. Accordingly, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College established the Jefferson Davis-Keesler Center for freshman and sophomore coursework in 1972, while Southern Miss continued to administer upper-level work at Keesler.

The cooperation that had long existed between the University and the local junior colleges was formalized in July 1976. The landmark Two Plus Two Agreement between The University of Southern Mississippi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College District provided fully coordinated comprehensive programs through the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and selected specialist levels for Gulf Coast citizens. The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast and Pearl River Community College also formalized a Two Plus Two Agreement in 1992.

In 1998, The University of Southern Mississippi was classified as a dual-campus system. In 1999, the State of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning approved The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast to add freshman and sophomore coursework. Southern Miss Gulf Coast admitted its first freshman students during the summer session of 2002.

In spring 2007, night classes returned to the Gulf Park campus in the Holloway and Business complexes on the north end of the property. In fall 2007, both day and night classes returned to the Fleming Education Center. The Gulf Coast Library reopened in spring 2008.

During 2011-12, renovation and restoration projects on the three most southern buildings damaged by Hurricane Katrina began. Additionally, a new Science Building construction project began and an existing building was converted to the College of Nursing Building.

The first buildings to be completed on the Gulf Park campus were the Science Building and the Nursing Building, both located on the northwest corner of campus. The Science Building, a $10 million new construction project, features nine teaching laboratories, research space, approximately 20 faculty and administrative offices, and an 80-seat instructional classroom. The $1.5 million Nursing Building was a renovation project and features two laboratories, faculty offices, and student-learning and study areas within the 10,000-square-foot facility.

The historic restoration projects for Hardy Hall and Lloyd Hall were completed in spring 2013. The $10 million project for Hardy Hall included renovations, as well as new construction for the Barnes and Noble Bookstore and an adjacent parking lot. The three-story building also houses dining services, the College of Education and Psychology, and administrative offices, including Admissions and Student Services. Lloyd Hall was a $2.4 million project, which provided 10 classrooms for students.

Elizabeth Hall, which houses the College of Arts and Letters, was the final building to complete renovations after all five buildings broke ground in 2011. In addition to faculty offices, Elizabeth Hall is also home to the University’s film pathway, which currently occupies 10 rooms. The renovation project for Elizabeth Hall cost $1.7 million.

Geographic Locations
Gulf Park Campus

The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Park Campus brings the excellence that is Southern Miss to the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast as the second campus in the University’s dual-campus system. Southern Miss Gulf Park offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

The 52-acre beachfront Gulf Park campus features state-of-the-art teaching, research and student service facilities. With recent renovations and restoration projects, the Spanish mission-style architecture is evident throughout the campus. Along with classroom facilities, there are teaching and research laboratories, a Learning Commons, a 55,000-square-foot library, a dining facility, Barnes and Noble Bookstore, Fitness Center, Health Center, public tennis courts, a 500-seat auditorium, and a center that serves community members with disabilities.

Service Members Opportunity College (SOC)

The University of Southern Mississippi is a member of Service Members Opportunity College (SOC) and SOCNAV4 (Navy). SOC is a consortium of national higher education associations and institutions that help strengthen and coordinate quality, voluntary college-level educational opportunities for service members and their family members.

Southern Miss is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Additionally, several specific programs maintain programmatic accreditation.

Gulf Coast Geospatial Center

The Gulf Coast Geospatial Center is charged with building the University’s capability for applying remote-sensing technologies to coastal zone research and management. The center trains students and researchers in the use of geospatial technologies; acquires, coordinates and manages extensive data sets of geospatial data primarily related to the Mississippi coastal region; and conducts research focused on coastal zone issues.

Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) occupies 275 acres at two sites in Ocean Springs. GCRL is the home of a summer field program in the marine sciences that has operated continuously since 1947. Headquartered at GCRL are the Division of Coastal Sciences, the Center for Fisheries Research and Development, the Marine Education Center, and the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium. The Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Research Center also operates through GCRL. Approximately 200 faculty, technical personnel, support staff and students work at GCRL.

Center for Fisheries Research and Development

The Center for Fisheries Research and Development addresses fisheries issues important to Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico region. Focusing on fisheries, habitats and invasive species, scientists work closely with marine resource users and managers in conducting research and putting new knowledge and skills to use. Scientists at the center fill roles as leaders in charting directions for future research strategies and as sources of accurate and timely information needed for resource management plans based on scientific findings.

Marine Education Center

The Marine Education Center (MEC) is the educational and outreach arm of The University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. MEC endeavors to produce a cadre of well-informed and knowledgeable stewards on our coastal ecosystems. The center supports a career-based working environment that utilizes formal, non-formal, and free-choice learning and higher education strategies focusing on the coastal ecosystems of the north-central Gulf of Mexico that will promote careers in marine science and foster community involvement.

Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Research Center

The Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Research Center is headquartered at GCRL in Ocean Springs. It is committed to the development of sustainable, scientifically-based marine aquaculture that contributes to the management of important marine resources through responsible stocking programs and economic development through the advancement of technology to support commercial marine aquaculture as part of the U.S. seafood industry. The center comprises more than 100,000 square feet and is one of the premier marine aquaculture facilities in the United States.

John C. Stennis Space Center

The John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Miss., is home to The University of Southern Mississippi’s Division of Marine Science and the Center of Higher Learning. Stennis is home to NASA’s lead center for rocket propulsion testing and earth sciences and the location of numerous other government and private agencies involved in ocean-related activities, which is an ideal setting for the marine science program. Networking opportunities for students are unparalleled as more oceanographers work at Stennis than any other single location in the world. The Division of Marine Science offers an undergraduate degree in marine science, as well as an undergraduate degree emphasis — and professional certification — in hydrography, which are offered exclusively at the Gulf Park campus. The Center of Higher Learning is a consortium of three universities and one community college that provides graduate and undergraduate education, training and applied technology opportunities to employees of the space center and residents of the surrounding area.

Center for Gulf Studies

The Center for Gulf Studies, located within the Division of Marine Science at John C. Stennis Space Center, serves as a focal point for new, long-term research and socioeconomic initiatives along the northern Gulf of Mexico. Staff at the center seek sound, comprehensive science and technology-based understanding of chronic and acute stressors, both anthropogenic and natural, on the dynamic and productive waters and habitats of the northern Gulf of Mexico. They also seek to facilitate sustainable use of the Gulf’s important resources.  The center is externally funded through research projects from state and federal agencies.

Hydrographic Science Research Center

The Hydrographic Science Research Center, located within the Division of Marine Science at John C. Stennis Space Center, is the research component to the academic program in hydrographic science. Under the sponsorship of various government and commercial activities, its externally funded research has assess emerging trends in the science of hydrography, developed innovative techniques and technologies capturing these trends, and implemented these techniques and technologies into hydrographic operations.