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Graduate Catalog 2016/2017

Marine Science (MSC)
with a Concentration in Biological Oceanography (BOC)

Catalog Photo

Master of Science (M.S.)
CIP Code: 40.0607
College of Marine Science (MS)
Total Minimum Program Hours Required (Post Bachelor's Degree): 32

Contact Information:
College of Marine Science
Marine Science Department (MSC)
140 Seventh Ave. S. MSL119
St. Petersburg FL  33701

Program Director or Coordinator:
David Naar
Phone: 727-553-1637


Faculty Search: Marine Science Faculty List

Program Information

The College of Marine Science (CMS) offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Marine Science. This research-based program has a low student-to-faculty ratio, with an average of 100 graduate students under the direction of ~ 30 fill-time faculty. Students in the Masters program may elect a concenetration in biological, chemical, geological, or physical oceanography, or Marine Resource Assessment through course work and thesis research. CMS graduates are well prepared for positions in academia , industry, government agencies, and non?governmental organizations at local to international levels.

Biological Oceanography
Biological O ceanographers seek to understand the life histories and population dynamics of marine organisms and how they interact with their environment over space and time. Scientists in the College of Marine Science study the full breadth of biological oceanography including microbiology, phytoplankton, zooplankton, benthos, coral reefs, fishes, and marine mammals. Our biological oceanographers utilize a variety of techniques including SCUBA, shipboard samplers, acoustics, molecular biology, and mathematical modeling to understand the oceans and their inhabitants. Scientists in our college also use the latest in remote sensing technology to study vast regions of the Earths oceans, and have developed new technology, capable of identifying and quantifying harmful algal blooms and related processes.

Chemical Oceanography
Chemical oceanographers seek to understand the ways in which various chemical forms are cycled within the oceans, and the reactions that influence biogeochemical cycles . Ocean chemists improve our understanding of the basic conditions under which ocean life thrives in seawater, and help predict the effects of anthropogenic and natural climate change on ocean composition. Research programs in the College of Marine Science include wide ranging topics such as the role and variability of nutrients in seawater, the distribution and cycling of both biologically-essential and toxic trace metals, the oceans' CO2 system, dissolved organic matter, molecular organic compounds, radionuclides and stable isotopes , and the distribution of chemical pollutants and their interactions with marine organisms and ecosystems. Faculty and students utilize a wide variety of state?of?the- art instrumentation and technology for conducting this research.

Geological Oceanography
Geological oceanographers in the College of Marine Science conduct research from the continental margins to the deep?ocean seafloor. Their work extends from modern environments to millions of years before present to understand and predict Earth surface and interior processes. Primary research themes include: (1) paleoceanography and paleoclimatology; (2) coastline and continental shelf development and processes including effects of storms and sea?level fluctuations; (3) the health of modern coral reefs; (4) carbonate depositional processes; (5 ) anthropogenic influences on estuaries; (6 ) mathematical descriptions of geologic phenomena; and (7 ) plate tectonics. Our geological oceanography group has a variety of modern well?equipped laboratories and field equipment, including one of the best seafloor mapping capabilities in the US. Fully integrated with these field instruments is the computational capability to generate state?of?the- art data depictions and imagery. Our group also works closely with scientists from the US Geological Survey's Center for Coastal and Marine Science Center, a major federal laboratory located nearby.

Physical Oceanography
Physical oceanography involves the study of water movement in the ocean. Energy is introduced to the ocean through wind and solar heating, and these combine with the rotation of the Earth and gravitational effects to drive ocean circulation, tides, and waves. Our physical oceanographers also investigate how the Earth's oceans are directly coupled with the atmosphere, from local weather patterns to the global climate system. Physical oceanographers in the CMS carry out research on a variety of topics using the latest technology. Computer models, real time data, satellite remote sensing, and in situ data from moored arrays, coastal tide gauges, and research cruises are used to study a wide range of research problems. Topics include tide and current prediction in Tampa Bay, circulation on the West Florida Shelf and in the Gulf of Mexico, El Nio phenomena, and the potential for global climate change.

Marine Resource Assessment
The College of Marine Science offers an interdisciplinary concentration in Marine Resource Assessment (MRA) as part of its M.S. and Ph.D. programs. This concentration provides training in the emerging field of ecosystem?based management. Its mission is to train a new generation of scientists that can effectively address issues concerning the sustainability of the worlds living natural resources. T he MRA concentration addresses the national shortage of graduates possessing the skills required for managing living marine resources by teaching a quantitative approach to ecosystem analysis and living resource assessment. The MRA concentration is designed to produce resource assessment scientists who can introduce relevant ecosystem?level variables into the traditional, single?species assessment process, complementing and enhancing the development of science?based management policies that protect living marine resources.

Accreditation Information:

Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of College and Schools.


Admissions Information

Admission Deadlines

There is an established University deadline for the submission of admission application materials. Programs may have earlier deadlines than the University deadline. The deadlines reflected below are the earliest of the two deadlines. Graduate Programs may continue to accept and process applications after the published deadline if space exists within the program. Check with the Program for availability.

Application Deadline (domestic application)

Fall: January 10
Spring: October 1
Summer: ---

International Students

Foreign applicants who are outside the U.S. are required to apply for a visa. Depending on the country of origin, this may take a few months. So the deadlines for these international applicants may be earlier than the Program deadline and these applicants must apply prior to both deadlines. They are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible. Foreign applicants who are in the U.S. and are currently on a visa may use the domestic application deadline dates. In addition to meeting the published application deadline for the Program of interest, all immigration documents should be submitted as soon as possible, but must be on file at USF no later than the following processing deadlines:

Fall: January 2
Spring: June 1
Summer: ---

Admission Requirements

You must comply with general University policies and meet general University Admission requirements in addition to those listed below.

Must meet University requirements (see Graduate Admissions) as well as requirements listed below.

Program Admission Requirements

Meeting these criteria shall not be the only basis for admission. Complete and up-to-date application instructions can be found at

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent from a regionally accredited university (Preferable majors include biology, chemistry, geology, physics, and math).
  • Have earned a 3.00 or higher average GPA (on a 4.00 scale) in upper division undergraduate coursework.
  • Have completed all of the coursework listed on our website ( under “Undergraduate Preparation”.
  • Have taken the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) within 5 years preceding the application. P referred minimum scores are as follows: Verbal = 153 (59th percentile), Quantitative = 148 (32nd percentile) . Preferred minimum scores for Marine Resource Assessment concentration are: Verbal = 156 (71st percentile), Quantitative = 155 (60th percentile).
  • Have the commitment of a Marine Science faculty member to serve as advisor during the student’s graduate studies.

Required Application Materials

  • research interest essay (use template from Marine Science website) -
  • a resume or curriculum vitae
  • three letters of recommendation
  • official transcripts of grades
  • GRE exam scores

Additional Requirements for International Applicants

  • Minimum TOEFL exam score of 79
  • Financial Support Requirements Form (available on the Office of Graduate Studies website)
  • Official transcripts of grades: all international transcripts must be in English; it is the applicant’s responsibility to have foreign transcripts translated and evaluated before submitting them as part of their graduate application packet. Please visit the Foreign Transcript Evaluations Services Listing of acceptable evaluators. Further details can be found at:

Admissions Status: Apply


Program Degree Requirements

A committee, consisting of a major advisor and at least 2 other members of the graduate faculty, will be appointed to supervise and guide the program of each student.

Students must complete a minimum of 32 credit hours within the following areas:





Core courses completed with a grade of “B” of better:


Biological Oceanography
Chemical Oceanography
Geological Oceanography
Physical Oceanography





Students select one of the following concentrations and complete 14 hours of electives within the concentration subject area (or other courses as approved by the Graduate Program Director).

Note: At least 8 of these credit hours must be in formal courses to satisfy the USF requirement of 20 hours of formal coursework.

Biological Oceanography (BOC)
Chemical Oceanography (COG)
Geological Oceanography (GOG)
Interdisciplinary (IDY)
Marine Resource Assessment (MRA)*
Physical Oceanography (POG)

*Students in Marine Resource Assessment Concentration (MRA)are required to take 3 courses from the following list (totaling 9 credit hours) as part of their concentration requirements:


Population Dynamics
Fish Biology
Dynamics of Marine Ecosystems
Applied Multivariate Statistics




Electives are taken within each concentration area (see above).



In lieu of a standard Comprehensive Exam , M.S. students must only pass their thesis defense. M.S. students planning to remain in CMS and enter the Ph.D. program after completion of their M.S. are invited and encouraged to take the Integrated Marine Science Exam (IMSE) after their first or second year in the M.S. Program. Or they can wait until they are in the Ph.D. program.





Thesis: Master's (minimum)


  • A written thesis
  • A successful thesis defense examination


Other coursework as required by the thesis advisory committee.






College Degree Requirements

Refer to the College Section of theGraduate Catalog for College requirements and information.


USF Degree Requirements

See USF Degree Requirements —


Financial Assistance

Financial Aid

Fellowships & Scholarships

Graduate Assistantships


Registration Process

First, contact your graduate program advisor for guidance courses to register for. Obtain any electronic course permit if necessary. Register for the new student orientation online at Then go to the link to OASIS, USF's on-line registration system to register for your classes. Follow the directions given on-line.

To access online course materials, students must have a USF NetID (e-mail account). Please visit: to obtain your NetID.

New students, including those studying online, may obtain a USFCard. Please visit: to obtain your USFCard.

Tuition and fees: Fees are determined by the level of the course. Please visit Cash Accounting, Controller's Office, for information on tuition and fees.


Graduate Course Information

Use the list below to lookup graduate courses related to this program in the USF Course Inventory:

OCB6050, OCC6050, OCG6051, OCP6050, OCE6971,