Marine Science Graduate Program Master of Arts or Master of Science in Marine Science

J​acksonville University's Master of Arts in Marine Science (MA in MSC) and Master of Science in Marine Science (MS in MSC) degree programs are designed to provide graduates with the specific knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in variety of marine-related positions in industry, government and education, or for entry into doctoral marine science programs.

The Marine Science graduate program emphasizes a hands-on approach to learning through either the completion of an original thesis project under the mentorship of an experienced marine science researcher, or a non-thesis option with a more extensive laboratory experience. The graduate program continues the undergraduate emphasis on individualized programs of study that ensure students the best possible preparation based on their interests, background and abilities.

Marine science faculty and researchers currently work in many fields critical to the understanding and sustainable use of marine resources and systems including aquaculture, benthic ecology, marine and estuarine ecology, coral reef ecology, environmental chemistry, phycology, environmental microbiology, toxicology, marine mammal physiology, and ichthyology.

The program is designed to be completed in two years for full-time graduate students. Students must take a core 4-course sequence and complete a proposal for their thesis research topic, or design a laboratory experience in conjunction with a graduate advisor. Thesis research is conducted through the next year, culminating in oral and written presentation of​ a thesis. Research facilities in​clude state-of-the-art laboratories, equipment, wetlab, and vessels at the Marine Science Research Institute, with opportunities to conduct research at other facilities also possible.

To learn more about the Master of Arts or Master of Science in Marine Science, contact Dr. Quinton White, Executive Director of the MSRI, 904-256-7766.

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Admission Requirements

Admission to the MA/MS in Marine Science program is selective and limited to those students who demonstrate potential for successfully completing the program. The decision is based on evaluation of the student's undergraduate program and grades earned, work experience (if applicable), letters of recommendation, statement of research and professional goals, and the personal interview.

Admission requirements include:

  • A $50 non-refundable application fee.
  • A bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with an overall undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • A completed graduate admission application form.
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation.
  • Submission of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score report.
  • Submission of a two page Statement of Research and Professional Goals.

Applications should be submitted by February 1. Applications completed after that date will be considered on a space available basis. 

  • An undergraduate degree in Marine Science is not necessary for admission to the MA/MS in Marine Science Program, however, all applicants must be accepted by the Graduate Review Committee (GRC) to either the MA/MS in the MSC Program and must demonstrate adequate potential to successfully complete graduate level courses in the field of marine science. Students whose undergraduate specialization is not in Marine Science may be required to take additional undergraduate courses in order to qualify for advanced study. 
  • Students not meeting entrance requirements outlined above may be admitted as non-degree seeking and be allowed to earn (6) semester hours of graduate level MSC course work at JU. Students must receive permission from the instructor before taking additional 500-level MSC courses at JU until they meet all admission requirements.
  • All applications and official transcripts of undergraduate as well as graduate work must be on file in the Office of Graduate Admission prior to initial registration.
  • Any exceptions to the preceding requirements must be approved by the Director of Marine Science Graduate Studies.
  • In addition to all program admission requirements listed above, international student applicants must meet the JU Admissions requirements as outlined under International Students.

Degree Requirements​​

Detailed information can be found in the Marine Science Graduate Student Guidebook.

Program is designed to be completed in approximately two-years of full-time study, but may be completed in a part-time manner if done within 7 years of starting first graduate course. Only six (6) semester hours of marine science-related graduate work can be transferred from another regionally accredited institution and applied to the MS/MA in Marine Science at JU.

All graduate students shall successfully complete 30 semester hours with a grade of "B" (3.0) or better in each course.Depending on the specific degree desired, students will complete either a comprehensive exam with required laboratory course work (MA degree) or a written thesis project with an oral defense as well as required coursework (MS degree).

All students shall maintain continuous enrollment in the graduate program until all degree requirements are met. If a student receives lower than a B in a core course, the student may retake one course. Two courses with grades below "B" (3.0) can result in the student being removed from the graduate program. Students are encouraged to complete their degree requirements within three years.

Master of Science Requirements

Thesis defense required. 30 semester hours (SH) with no more than 6 SH in thesis preparation research.

Degree Requirements

  • Four- course core: MSC 501, MSC 502, MSC 503, and MSC 504.
  • A thesis approved by the student's thesis committee. The Thesis Committee will be composed of minimum of 3 individuals, including the Student's Thesis Advisor, and two other members, one of which may be from outside the Department or University.
  • An oral thesis defense must be completed in the form of a seminar open to the general public. The student's thesis committee must be present, may require further oral questioning after the seminar, and will evaluate the success of the presentation.
  • The MS degree will be approved upon submission of a final written thesis approved by the Student's Thesis Committee.
  • A laboratory experience of not less than 6 SH approved by the graduate advisor.
  • A total of 30 SH graduate level work (500 or above) with approval of the student's graduate advisor
  • One semester of practical experience as a teaching assistant in an undergraduate marine science or biology laboratory.

Master of Arts Requirements

Non-thesis option. 30 semesters (SH) with minimum of 6 SH of laboratory courses required. Comprehensive exam required.

Degree Requirements

  • Four-course core: MSC 501, MSC 502, MSC 503, and MSC 504.
  • A laboratory experience of not less than 6 SH approved by the graduate advisor.
  • A total of 30 SH graduate level work (500 or above) with approval of the student's graduate advisor
  • One semester of practical experience as a teaching assistant in an undergraduate marine science or biology laboratory.


Core Courses (12 credit hours)

  • MSC 501: Advanced Marine Ecology (3)
  • MSC 502: Chemical Oceanography (3)
  • MSC 503: Geologic and Littoral Processes (3)
  • MSC 504: Physical Oceanography (3)

Elective Courses

  • MSC 510: Graduate Seminar (1)
  • MSC 520: Estuarine and Coastal Ecology (3)
  • MSC 530: Biology of Marine Animals (3)
  • MSC 540: Marine Mammal Biology (3)
  • MSC 550: Marine Microbiology (3)
  • MSC 560: Advanced Ichthyology (4)
  • MSC 595: Laboratory Techniques in marine Science (3)
  • MSC 601: Climate Science (3)
  • MSC 610: Ocean & Coastal Environmental Law (3)
  • MSC 620: Advanced Marine Botany (3)
  • MSC 630: Ocean and Coastal Observation Systems (3)
  • MSC 640: Ecology of the St. Johns River (3)
  • MSC 650: Field Studies in MSC (Laboratory) (3)
  • MSC 660: Experimental Design/Biostatistics (3)
  • MSC 670: Aquaculture (3)
  • MSC 671: Aquaculture Laboratory (3)
  • MSC 680: Contemporary Issues in Marine Science (Var. 1-3)
  • MSC 690: Graduate Special Topics (Var. 1-6)
  • MSC 695: Advanced Laboratory Techniques in Marine Science (3)
  • MSC 699: Thesis Preparation and Research (Var. 1-6 SH)
    May be repeated as needed but only 6 SH to count towards degree completion.

Learn more about grants, internships, and research opportunities.

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