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Marine Science Graduate Program


What if I am interested in applying but I have not completed all of the undergraduate course requirements listed?

We require a degree in a natural science. If in the course of completing that degree you did not take a course we expect to see, we might require it to be taken within a year of being admitted to our program. Courses that we expect to see as a minimal part of any science degree are:

  • One semester of biology with laboratory
  • One year of chemistry with laboratory
  • One semester of physics with laboratory
  • One semester of calculus

Courses we would like to see are:

  • one semester of earth science, with lab
  • one semester of statistics

What if I do not have 3.0 GPA or the required minimum on the GRE?

We evaluate all applications as a whole. Deficiencies in either GPA or GRE scores may be offset by other factors, such as research experience. In addition to GPA and GRE considerations, we pay special attention to your personal statement, your stated research interests and goals, and letters of recommendation.

Whom should my letters of recommendation come from?

We require a minimum of three letters from science professors. These professors should either know you from classes you took from them or from research work you did with them. Letters from professors outside of science, employers, and others who know you particularly well may be submitted in addition to the three science letters. Letters from friends, relatives, clergy, etc. will not help our evaluation process and should be avoided.

What are you looking for in the statement of purpose?

Your personal statement is an opportunity for you to demonstrate to us that you have thought carefully about why you want to pursue an MS in Marine Science, why you want to do it at USD, and what your longer-term professional goals are. This statement also should describe how your research interests match the expertise of the Marine Science core and affiliated graduate faculty. Information about those areas of expertise can be found on the graduate faculty page.

What financial support is available to MARS graduate students?

We have internal money (Dean's Merit Awards) that may be given to graduate students. In addition, particular faculty may have grants or contracts that can help support students. Assuming you have applied for Financial Aid before the deadline and filled out a FAFSA, the University may provide an additional grant and a limited number of scholarships. There are also a limited number of work positions available in the department for 10-20 hours per week.

What types of things have MARS alumni done?

Graduate students who have successfully completed the M.S. in Marine Science, have gone into many areas. Many have continued on for Ph.D.s at other universities; some are now employed as research technicians at various government agencies (e.g. National Marine Fisheries Service), academic institutions and in private industry; others are teaching in middle and high schools.

What are the visa requirements for international students?

Please read Information for International Students on the Graduate Admissions website.

Who should I contact if I have further questions?

For information about the program and its faculty, contact:
Ron Kaufmann, PhD

For information about admission to the graduate program at the University of San Diego, contact:
Graduate Admissions