MS in Marine Science

Total units required for MS: 31-34

Program Description

The Master of Science degree in Marine Science is offered as an interdepartmental degree through Biological Sciences in cooperation with Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.

Admission Requirements

The Master of Science degree in Marine Science program is administered through MLML and the Biological Sciences Department. The prospective student must meet the entrance requirements for the program and will be accepted into unclassified or conditionally classified graduate status by normal procedures. The student will become classified upon completion of MLML's requirements.

A conditionally classified student may become fully classified in the Marine Science program as follows:

  • obtain an advisor at MLML and one from the department of the student's choice at the home campus. Each new student in the MS program at MLML will be assigned an advisor who may or may not be the final thesis advisor;
  • make up any coursework deficiencies at either the home campus department (see their regulations) and/or MLML. MSCI 104, and three of the following five courses are prerequisites for classified graduate standing:
    MSCI 103Marine Ecology4
    MSCI 141Geological Oceanography4
    MSCI 142Physical Oceanography4
    MSCI 143Chemical Oceanography4
    MSCI 144Biological Oceanography4
    These courses may be waived by the graduate committee upon certification that equivalent courses have been satisfactorily completed. MSCI 104 is a prerequisite and cannot be counted toward the 30-unit degree requirement;
  • students who do not receive a GPA of 3.0 or better in the courses listed above taken at MLML, or who wish to substitute equivalent courses taken elsewhere regardless of the grade(s) received, must pass a written qualifying examination given by the faculty at MLML. Contact MLML for further information.

Minimum Units and Grade Requirement for the Degree

Units required for the MS:  31-34

Minimum Cumulative GPA:  3.0

A student becomes eligible for the MS degree in Marine Science after satisfying the following requirements:

  • the student has been advanced to candidacy;
  • the student has satisfied MLML's requirements for the degree; and
  • the student has completed the following curriculum requirements.

Advancement to Candidacy

To be advanced to candidacy, the student must have:

  • attained classified standing;
  • selected a thesis problem and a thesis advisory committee. The thesis committee will be composed of at least three members, including one faculty member from MLML (who is ordinarily the thesis advisor) and, at the discretion of the home campus, a representative from that campus. The other member or members of the thesis committee may also be from MLML, or from the home campus, or elsewhere, with the approval of the thesis advisor; and
  • taken the Writing Placement for Graduate Students (WPG) or taken a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in their discipline within the first two semesters of coursework at California State University, Sacramento or secured approval for a WPG waiver.


  • The student must have submitted a thesis approved by the thesis advisory committee. The thesis must conform to the rules set forth by the home campus.

  • The student must successfully give an oral thesis defense in the form of a seminar open to the general public. The thesis advisory committee must be present, may require further oral questioning after the seminar, and will evaluate the success of the presentation. 

Program Requirements

Required Courses (7-10 Units)
MSCI 285Seminar in Marine Biology2
MSCI 286Seminar in Marine Geology2
MSCI 287Seminar In Oceanography2
MSCI 299Master's Thesis1 - 4
Electives (24 Units) 1
Select 9 units of electives from MSCI 200-level courses9
Select 15 units of electives from MSCI 100-level or above courses as approved by the thesis committee. The following courses may be used:15
Marine Birds and Mammals
Marine Ichthyology
Marine Invertebrate Zoology I
Marine Invertebrate Zoology II
Marine Botany
Library Research Methods
Oceanographic Instrumentation
Ecology of Marine Birds and Mammals
Advanced Topics in Marine Vertebrates
Advanced Topics in Marine Invertebrates
Biology Of Seaweeds
Advanced Biological Oceanography
Plate Tectonics
Marine Benthic Habitat Techniques
Marine Geochemistry
Ocean Circulation and Mixing
Population Biology
Subtidal Ecology
Scientific Writing
Research in the Marine Sciences
Total Units31-34