Masters Program: Masters

UCSC Masters programs

Study Space / September 28, 2017

The Ocean Sciences Department offers both Master of Science and Doctorate degree programs. The graduate programs in ocean sciences are designed to prepare students for careers in research, teaching, and other environmentally related endeavors. The fundamental requirement for admission to the program is substantial evidence of superior scholarship and aptitude for original research. Preparation for admission to the graduate program in Ocean Sciences should comprise an undergraduate degree in the discipline of one of the program specialty areas (e.g., biology or marine biology, geology or earth sciences, chemistry, or physical science) or an equivalent background. If a student does not have a degree in one of these areas, the student must demonstrate to their sponsor that they have taken the classes necessary to do their research.

In addition to the core department faculty, affiliated faculty includes faculty from related disciplines within biology, chemistry, Earth sciences, environmental studies, and physics who sponsor students in the program.

Ocean Sciences Ph.D. Degree Program

The program leading to a doctorate in ocean sciences is designed around a core training in oceanography for all students, supplemented and focused by advanced training in oceanography and in the traditional disciplines—biology, chemistry, Earth sciences, and physics—as chosen by the student and his or her advisers. The core training is provided through courses in ocean sciences; a subset of which is taken by all students in the first two years and reinforced by the student's seminars throughout the program. Preparation also includes upper-division/graduate courses in ocean sciences and in the specialty discipline, graduate seminars, independent study research credits, participation in a departmental student seminar series, and a minimum requirement of two quarters as a teaching assistant. There is no formal language requirement.

A scheduling meeting in the first quarter of enrollment is used to map out the course program in the first year. The course program is determined by a faculty advisory committee in consultation with the student, and courses are drawn from ocean sciences and other science departments (e.g., biology, chemistry, Earth sciences, physics). A departmental oral examination covering material from the core courses is usually taken at the beginning of a student's second year in the program and must be completed successfully within two years of entering the program. The purpose of this examination is to ensure that the doctoral student candidate has acquired sufficient fundamental knowledge of oceanography to proceed toward the doctoral degree.

A qualifying examination requiring a written research proposal to be defended orally in front of the student's Qualifying Examination Committee is normally taken during the third or fourth year of the program. A dissertation, demonstrating original thought and research, must be written, presented in an open seminar, and defended to the student's Dissertation Reading Committee. Students are strongly encouraged to prepare their dissertation in a form suitable for publication.

Sample Pathways

The pathways within the Ocean Sciences Ph.D. program are differentiated from related degrees in the traditional disciplines by their focus on global-scale problems and interactions, a focus on the ocean, and their inherently interdisciplinary approach. Interdisciplinary projects across and between pathways are encouraged, as are interactions with faculty in related departments.