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Degree requirements include:

  • participation in introductory courses in all four sub-disciplines
  • an interdisciplinary seminar
  • a period of study or research at a marine station or on an oceanographic cruise
  • a thesis or dissertation based on original research
  • presentation of a satisfactory research seminar

Thirty semester hours of coursework are required for the Master’s Degree; no specific coursework requirement is set for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree. Knowledge of a foreign language is desirable, but not mandatory. A faculty committee, chaired by the student’s advisor, oversees his/her degree program.

The information provided here is specific to this academic program, and is above and beyond the basic admission requirements as established by the Administrative board of the Graduate School. Applicants are responsible for complying with the basic admissions requirements as specified by the Graduate School at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Admission to the graduate program in marine sciences requires completion of an undergraduate degree in one of the natural sciences, mathematics, or engineering with a “B” average or better. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the field, a broad undergraduate foundation in the sciences is recommended, including mathematics through calculus, statistics, and at least some basic coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, and geology.

Applications for admission are handled by the Graduate School. Prospective students are encouraged to apply via its online application form. This user-friendly method is faster and easier than completing a paper document and assures the prompt receipt and distribution of the application.

Applicants must upload unofficial transcripts and official scores for the verbal and quantitative tests of the Graduate Record Examination. No GRE subject test is required. Applicants from foreign countries also must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). In addition, the department asks each applicant to provide a Personal Statement briefly describing his/her background, present interests, including the name(s) of specific faculty he/she has contacted, and future plans related to marine sciences; and a list of courses that he/she expects to complete before enrolling in graduate school. The Department of Marine Sciences typically admits students for the fall semester only. The Department does not have a specific application deadline. However, applicants interested in applying for Graduate School support should take the appropriate tests and file their forms early in order to meet the Graduate School’s December 13th application deadline. Admission to the program is highly competitive. The “average” Marine Sciences graduate student enters with an undergraduate GPA of 3.6 or higher and a combined GRE score of about 1300. Quantitative scores vary by sub-discipline, but nearly all students achieve around 700 on that portion of the test. Average verbal scores are in the 600 to 650 range. While grades and scores are important, attention also is given to the applicant’s research interests and motivation. Most entering students already have reasonably well-defined scientific interests and goals. The department uses these to match them with appropriate faculty advisors. Prospective students are encouraged to visit campus and/or IMS and to meet with members of the faculty.

To request additional information about the UNC-CH Marine Sciences Graduate Program or to arrange for a visit, please contact:
Department of Marine Sciences
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
3202 Murray Hall, CB #3300
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3300
Phone: (919)843-9398

Nearly all full-time Marine Sciences graduate students receive financial support. Sources vary. Some financial awards are made directly from the Graduate School to students recommended by the Department of Marine Sciences; however, most (e.g., teaching and research assistantships) are dispensed by the department itself. Award stipends are competitive with those at comparable research institutions.
The university provides limited on-campus housing for graduate students in Chapel Hill. No permanent long-term housing is provided at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City, although short-term bunking accommodations are available. Most students elect to live in off-campus rooms, apartments, and houses in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area or in Morehead City. No direct public transportation is available between the main campus and the Institute, so those who work in both locations generally find it necessary to have their own cars.
All registered students who have paid their fees are eligible for health care at the Student Health Service facility on main campus. The health fee does not cover hospitalization, surgery, or intensive care. Graduate students not otherwise covered by their parents’ or spouses’ policies will be enrolled in the Student Blue RA/TA plan offered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
Carolina provides students with the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of organizations. The Marine Sciences Graduate Action Group (GAG) is a loosely-organized association of graduate students in the program. Each year, this group elects a president to represent its interests to the administration and faculty and to oversee its various scientific activities and social functions. Student interests on a broader, university-wide scale are served by an extremely well-organized and active Graduate and Professional Student Federation (GPSF).

For more in-depth information about Marine Sciences Graduate Degree Program requirements, funding opportunities, etc., go to the MASC Online Graduate Student Handbook Adobe_PDF_file_icon_24x24, an electronic version of the handbook provided to new graduate students at the beginning of each academic year.

For a current, comprehensive rundown of all UNC-CH graduate degree programs and course offerings, as well as general information concerning advanced degree requirements, estimated costs of study, financial aid, housing, health services, and student life, please consult the UNC Graduate School Handbook and Graduate School website.