Jun 17, 2024  
2020-2021 Academic Catalog 
2020-2021 Academic Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Marine Sciences M.S.

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Ritin Bhaduri, Ph.D., Program Director

View information for the Department of Biological Sciences .

The California State University operates the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) at 8272 Moss Landing Road, Moss Landing, California 95039. This marine facility functions as a seaside extension of the campuses of seven cooperating CSU campuses (Stanislaus, Fresno, East Bay, Monterey Bay, Sacramento, San Francisco, and San Jose) and offers coursework in marine biology, geology, oceanography, and other marine sciences.

The curriculum is designed to fulfill major requirements for qualified upper-division and graduate students. Such students can plan their academic schedules to provide for one or more terms at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.

Students will be considered as in-residence at California State University, Stanislaus. Interested students should apply early because enrollment is limited. Consult advisers in the departments of Biological Sciences or Physical Sciences for further details. Consult the Department of Biological Sciences for information on the Master of Science in Marine Sciences degree.

The Master of Science in Marine Sciences program is offered as an interdepartmental degree on each campus in appropriate science departments (biology, geology, chemistry) in cooperation with Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML). It provides the opportunity for students to acquire a practical and theoretical education in the marine sciences to prepare them for careers as marine specialists, scientists, and teachers. The program at Moss Landing provides extensive field and laboratory work for advanced study in the marine sciences that cannot be duplicated on any one individual California State University campus.


The Master of Science in Marine Sciences program is administered through MLML and an academic department from a consortium campus (biological science, geology, natural science, or other department) depending on the student’s choice. The prospective student must meet the entrance requirements for the department and be accepted into the MLML graduate program by a MLML faculty member, and will then be accepted into provisional or conditionally classified graduate status by normal procedures at that campus. The student will become classified upon completion of MLML’s requirements.

Admission to the M.S. Marine Sciences program through Stanislaus State requires application both to the University and to the Department of Biological Sciences. Completed applications must be received by January 15 for the following fall semester. Application materials for the Department of Biological Sciences are due February 15. Applications must include:

  • A copy of transcripts of all undergraduate courses with summary of overall grade point average and grade point average in upper-division biological sciences courses or the last 60 units
  • A statement of student’s area(s) of research interests
  • A summary of all research experiences (resume)
  • Scores on the GRE exam (both General Test and the appropriate Subject Test determined by the student’s undergraduate degree, i.e., Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Physics)
  • Three letters of recommendation, and
  • The MLML Graduate Application Questionnaire.

The application, transcripts, and GRE scores should be sent to the Stanislaus State Office of Enrollment Services. Letters of recommendation, statement of interest, resume, and MLML Graduate Application Questionnaire should be sent to the Stanislaus State Department of Biological Sciences.

Requirements for admission to the M.S. Marine Sciences program via Stanislaus State are:

  • Bachelor’s degree in one of the biological sciences with a program comparable to the biology program at Stanislaus State from an accredited college or university
  • An overall grade point average of 3.0
  • Statement of research interests consistent with interests and facilities of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories faculty, and
  • Approval for admission with conditional classified status by the Department of Biological Sciences, Stanislaus State, and by Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. For more detailed information, contact the Stanislaus State Graduate School, (209) 667-3129.

MLML Classification

A conditionally classified student may become fully classified in the marine science program by taking the following steps:

  1. Obtain an adviser at MLML and in the department of his/her choice at the home campus. Each new student in the Master’s program at MLML will be assigned an adviser who may or may not be the final thesis adviser.
  2. Make up any coursework deficiencies in either the home campus department (see department regulations) and/or MLML. MSCI 3040 Quantitative Marine Science, and three of the following five courses are prerequisites for classified graduate standing:

These courses may be waived by the graduate committee upon certification that equivalent courses have been completed satisfactorily. MSCI 3040 Quantitative Marine Science cannot be counted toward the 30-unit degree requirement.

  1. Students who do not receive a grade of “B” or better in the courses described in (2) above taken at MLML, or who wish to substitute equivalent courses taken elsewhere regardless of the grade(s) received, must pass a written qualifying examination given by the faculty at MLML. The examination will substitute for any equivalent examination given by home campus departments. There is no official time limit, but the exam should be taken as soon as possible; only a limited number of units taken while in unclassified status can be counted toward the degree. The exam may be repeated once, and must be passed before the student can be classified. The examination will consist of a choice of five out of six questions designed to test knowledge of the concepts and principles of oceanography, marine ecology, and statistics as covered in the courses listed under (2) above. It will be used to evaluate the student’s background in these subject areas and the ability to write well and formulate answers logically. Each answer will be graded “pass” or “fail” by two faculty members (a third faculty member will resolve disagreements) on accuracy, content, and ability to clearly communicate.

For a reading list covering the required material and further details concerning the exam, see the MLML’s Assistant Director.

Advancement to Candidacy

To be advanced to candidacy, the student must have:

  1. Attained classified standing,
  2. Selected a thesis problem and selected a graduate committee, and
  3. Completed 1 unit of MSCI 5980 - Research in Marine Sciences , in which a thesis proposal has been written and approved by the thesis committee both for its content and the graduate writing competency requirement.

The thesis committee will be composed of at least three members, including one faculty member from MLML (who is ordinarily the thesis adviser) and, at the discretion of the home campus, a representative from that campus. The other member or members of the thesis committee may also be from the home campus, or elsewhere, with the approval of the thesis adviser. The California State University requires that the majority of the thesis committee members be tenure track faculty in the California State University System.  The thesis adviser/chair of the committee must be a full-time faculty member.


(30 units)

A student becomes eligible for the Master’s degree in Marine Sciences after the following requirements have been satisfied:

1. Been advanced to candidacy;

2. Satisfied the MLML requirements for the degree;

3. Completed the following curricular requirements for a minimum total of 30 units:

a. A minimum total of 15 units of 5000-level courses including:

b. Fifteen units or more of elective courses in marine sciences (courses numbered 3000 or above):

The following list of elective courses can be used to satisfy major requirements:


Other electives, including courses from the home campus departments, may be included in consultation with the graduate committee. The combination of required units (seminar and thesis and elective) must total at least 30 semester units. No more than 6 units may be graded CR/NC.

4. Submitted a thesis approved by the graduate committee;

The thesis must conform to the rules set forth by the consortium campus’s graduate office.

5. Given an oral thesis defense to include an open seminar presentation of the thesis material and a defense before the graduate committee.

Schedule of Core Courses

(Quantitative Marine Science, Physical Oceanography, Chemical Oceanography, Geological Oceanography, Biological Oceanography, and Marine Ecology)

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