Master of Science in Marine Science

About Master of Science in Marine Science

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2016-2017, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on October 1, 2016. Access the catalog of record at

Recommended Program of Study

First Year
Semester IHours
MARS 500Core Seminar I2
MARS 510Oceanography I: Geological Oceanography4
MARS 511Oceanography II: Biological Oceanography (OR Elective)4
Semester II
MARS 501Core Seminar II3
MARS 512 513Oceanography III: Marine Geochemistry
Oceanography IV: Marine Community Ecology
MARS 520Statistics3
Second Year
Semester I
MARS 596Research6
Semester II
MARS 596Research6
MARS 597Thesis1

Note: Students who are not finished after two years take 0.5 unit of MARS 597 in each semester of the third year instead of Semester II of the second year.

Requirements for the Degree

MARS 500Core Seminar I2
MARS 501Core Seminar II3
MARS 520Statistics3
Graduate Elective3
Select three of the following:12
MARS 510Oceanography I: Geological Oceanography 1
MARS 511Oceanography II: Biological Oceanography 1
MARS 512Oceanography III: Marine Geochemistry 1
MARS 513Oceanography IV: Marine Community Ecology 1
Thesis (minimum 9 units)
MARS 596Research 20.5-6
A maximum number of 12 units may count toward degree
MARS 597Thesis 20.5-1
A minimum of 1 unit must be applied toward degree
Electives or Additional Research
Four additional units, consisting of elective courses (approved by thesis chair), MARS 596, or a combination

Depending on student’s previous coursework, one or more of the MARS 510-MARS 513 series may be waived.


Students may take these courses for 0.5 unit only after they have completed all of the program requirements except MARS 597 Thesis. Students who are enrolled for 0.5 unit of MARS 596 or MARS 597 are considered half-time.

Minimum Units

The minimum number of units required for graduation is 32; however, if three courses from the MARS 510-MARS 513 series are taken, the total units will add to 36.

A thesis committee of at least three members will be established during the second semester of enrollment. It will consist of at least one full-time USD graduate faculty member and may include members from approved outside institutions. The entire thesis committee will meet with the student semi-annually to assess progress and give advice. Following approval of the thesis proposal by both the thesis chair and the graduate director and satisfaction of any deficiencies noted at the time of admission to the program, the student will be recommended for candidacy by the thesis committee. Adequate progress will need to be made to maintain candidacy (see candidacy policy, available from the graduate director). Additional courses related to the student’s area may be required by the thesis chair (see also Thesis, page 67). All students must be enrolled for at least 1 unit to remain active in the program. Students who have completed all program requirements except MARS 597, including all required courses, may enroll in 0.5 units to remain active in the program.

Undergraduate Courses

A maximum of six undergraduate units taken at the university may be applied to the graduate program. No course taken to fulfill an undergraduate deficiency may count toward the required units in the graduate program. The list below is not exhaustive; consult the graduate director. See the current Undergraduate Course Catalog for course descriptions.

BIOL 301Biostatistics4
BIOL 350Invertebrate Zoology4
BIOL 364Conservation Biology4
BIOL 416Population Biology4
BIOL 477Invertebrate Physiology3
BIOL 478Vertebrate Physiology3
BIOL 482Molecular Biology3
CHEM 331Biochemistry3
CHEM 355Environmental Chemistry3
ENVI 315