Marine Sciences

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Foreign:$ 33.9 k / Year(s) Deadline: Dec 13, 2023
56 place StudyQA ranking:1238 Duration: You need IELTS certificate

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The Department of Marine Sciences provides teaching and research in estuarine, coastal, and oceanographic sciences leading to M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in marine sciences. The two elements of the program are the Department of Marine Sciences (MASC) located in Murray Venable Hall on the Chapel Hill campus and the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) located on the waterfront in Morehead City, North Carolina. The Department of Marine Sciences is the degree granting-unit; all marine sciences graduate students are enrolled in the department. Most IMS faculty have joint faculty appointments in the department, and this enables their participation in graduate student academic activities. Research programs in physical oceanography, marine biology and ecology, marine geochemistry, marine geology, and coastal meteorology are conducted in North Carolina and throughout the world by faculty from the department and the IMS.

Courses and facilities at other coastal laboratories are also available to UNC–Chapel Hill marine sciences students through cooperative agreements. Courses at North Carolina State University, UNC–Charlotte, UNC–Greensboro, North Carolina Central University, and Duke University may be taken for credit through an interinstitutional registration program.

Each graduate student in the Department of Marine Sciences must gain a broad background in the marine sciences as well as an in-depth understanding of his or her own subdiscipline (e.g., chemical oceanography). This is accomplished by taking the four core courses (Marine Geology, Biological Oceanography, Chemical Oceanography, and Physical Oceanography: MASC 503, MASC 504, MASC 505, and MASC 506, respectively) and advanced courses determined by each student's advisory committee, and by participating in research that ultimately results in an M.S. thesis or a Ph.D. dissertation. By the end of the 24-month period that begins when a student first enrolls in the department, the student is expected to have completed the four core courses, How to Give a Seminar (MASC 705), and Student Interdisciplinary Seminar (MASC 706), and to have taken a written comprehensive exam (M.S. students) in his or her subdiscipline.

The academic program for a Ph.D. student will be supervised by a faculty advisory committee of at least five members drawn from the UNC–Chapel Hill graduate faculty. Course requirements normally include the four core courses, additional advanced courses determined by the student's advisory committee, one hour of MASC 705, How to Give a Seminar, and one hour of MASC 706, Student Interdisciplinary Seminar. A waiver for one or more of the core courses can be arranged with the approval of the student's advisory committee and the Department of Marine Sciences Performance Committee. Additional requirements include passing a comprehensive examination containing both written (research proposal) and oral (proposal defense seminar) parts, a period of study or research at a marine station or participation on an oceanographic cruise, teaching experience sufficient to develop and demonstrate competence, and scientific research resulting in a written dissertation, which is defended by the student. 


  • MASC 503. Marine Geology.
  • MASC 504. Biological Oceanography.
  • MASC 505. Chemical Oceanography.
  • MASC 506. Physical Oceanography. 
  • MASC 550. Biogeochemical Cycling.
  • MASC 552. Organic Geochemistry.
  • MASC 553. Geochemistry.
  • MASC 560. Fluid Dynamics.
  • MASC 561. Time Series and Spatial Data Analysis.
  • MASC 562. Turbulent Boundary Layers.
  • MASC 563. Descriptive Physical Oceanography.
  • MASC 705. How to Give a Seminar.
  • MASC 706. Student Interdisciplinary Seminar.
  • MASC 741. Seminar in Marine Biology
  • MASC 742. Molecular Population Biology. 
  • MASC 750. Modeling Diagenetic Processes. 
  • MASC 761. Geophysical Fluid Dynamics.
  • MASC 762. Ocean Circulation Theory.
  • MASC 763. Coastal Circulation.
  • MASC 764. Ocean Circulation Modeling. 
  • MASC 765. Small-Scale Physics of the Ocean.
  • MASC 781. Numerical ODE/PDE, I.
  • MASC 782. Numerical ODE/PDE, II.
  • MASC 783. Mathematical Modeling I.
  • MASC 784. Mathematical Modeling II.
  • MASC 799. Experimental Graduate.
  • MASC 893. Special Topics in Marine Geology.
  • MASC 894. Special Topics in Biological Oceanography.
  • MASC 895. Special Topics in Physical Oceanography. 
  • MASC 896. Special Topics in Chemical Oceanography.
  • MASC 897. Special Topics in Marine Sciences.
  • MASC 940. Research in Marine Sciences.
  • MASC 994. Doctoral Research and Dissertation. 
  • Application fee (non-refundable $85)
  • Transcripts (complete, not selected courses)
    • One unofficial transcript from each university attended must be uploaded within the application. All unofficial transcripts must be uploaded to your application in order for your application to be reviewed. Please do not mail transcripts as part of your admission application; we only accept unofficial uploads for application evaluation. If you are offered admission, one official transcript for each university attended will be required prior to the first day of the term.
  • Current letters of recommendation
    • The email address of three recommenders will be required within the application for electronic submission.
  • Standardized test scores
    • (GRE, GMAT, etc.; no more than 5 years old.)
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume/CV
  • TOEFL or IELTS score (no more than two years old)
  • Completed financial certificate

In addition to the University’s required application materials, applicants should review the information below for additional expectations or application requirements.

Your application must be completed by December 13, 2016 to receive full consideration for departmental financial support.

In the Plans for Graduate Study section of the application:

Select a degree. To select the correct degree program for you, please do one of the following:

Applicants who will not have already earned a Masters Degree in Marine Sciences or a closely related field when they enter the UNC-Chapel Hill Marine Sciences Program may select either Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy.  If you are certain that you want to earn an M.S. Degree as your terminal degree at UNC-Chapel Hill, then you should select Master of Science.  If you plan to ultimately earn a Ph.D. at UNC-Chapel Hill, either by first completing the M.S. program here or by earning an M.S. Bypass, you should select Doctor of Philosophy.  If you are unsure of your final degree at UNC-Chapel Hill, then you should select Doctor of Philosophy.

Applicants who will have already earned a Masters Degree in Marine Sciences or a closely related field when they enter the UNC-Chapel Hill Marine Sciences Program, select Doctor of Philosophy.

Select an Area of Interest or Specialization.  From the list below, select an area that you most identify with and are interested in pursuing as a graduate student.

  • Aquatic Biogeochemical Processes
  • Biological Oceanography
  • Chemical Ecology
  • Chemical Oceanography
  • Coastal Fluid Dynamics
  • Marine & Coastal Geology
  • Marine Ecology
  • Marine Geochemistry
  • Marine Organic Geochemistry
  • Microbial Ecology & Molecular Biology
  • Physical Oceanography & Meteorology

More than one area may be selected.  Please choose ‘Other’ if your area of specialization is not listed.

In the Statement of Purpose section of the application, upload a written statement (about 1000 words) that includes the following:  (a) your reasons for wanting to do graduate work in marine sciences; (b) how your background has prepared you for working in this field; (c) your academic and research accomplishments; (d) your specific research interests; and (e) your career and future goals.


  • Graduate School Fellowships
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