Jun 18, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalogue 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalogue Archived Catalogue

Applied Coastal and Ocean Sciences, Ph.D.

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Graduate Coordinator: Dr. Stephen Skrabal

The doctor of philosophy in Applied Coastal and Ocean Sciences (ACOS) combines high caliber research in ocean and coastal science with entrepreneurial skills and career readiness training for students seeking to apply core principles of marine science to the development of solutions with societal and/or commercial benefit.  The ACOS program leads to careers in academia and beyond.  The ACOS program of study builds on the fundamental concepts and core disciplines in coastal and oceans science by requiring that students develop and execute a significant body of research.  The ACOS program extends this foundational research by asking students to evaluate critically their ideas and findings in the context of solutions to commercial, technological, policy, or educational problems.  The research intensive nature of the program is supported with coursework in both advanced coastal and ocean science, entrepreneurial thinking, and career readiness.

Total credits required:

60 post-baccalaureate degree
40 post-master’s degree

Target audience: STEM graduates (BA/BS/MA/MS) with an interest in the application of ocean science to issues of societal relevance and potential application beyond academia.


  • Students will demonstrate an advanced understanding of the principles and concepts in core areas of marine science
  • Students will be able to develop, present, and defend a research plan.
  • Students will be able to implement a research plan to address questions and hypotheses in their research proposal
  • Students will be able to present their research findings in written and oral form.
  • Students will be able to identify ideas, processes, products, or services with potential to provide societal or commercial benefit.
  • Students will be able to develop and present a plan for developing an idea, process, service, or product to provide societal benefit

Core Classes (13 credits)

Field Experience (1-3 credits)

Field or cruise experience requirement can be fulfilled through dissertation research and/or courses that have a field based component. Examples of field based courses include:

Quantitative Methods (3 credits)

Three (3) credits in quantitative methods or statistics. Students should choose one of the following:

Applied Coastal and Ocean Sciences Courses (6 credits)

Coursework in entrepreneurial thinking and career-readiness.

Must include:

Advanced Topics in Coastal and Ocean Sciences (4 credits)

A minimum of 4 credits in doctoral level courses in coastal and ocean sciences. These courses are meant to be topical and build on core content that is typical at the MS level. MSC 601 is the primary vehicle for this part of the curriculum, but other doctoral (600) level courses can be considered as they are developed by individual departments (e.g., BIO 601 which is part of the Ph.D. in Marine Biology).

Electives (14 credits)

Electives - 14 credits, no more than 8 credits from Research (MSC 698) or Directed Independent Study (MSC 691)

Dissertation (12 credits)

Must include:

  • Research Prospectus and Prospectus Defense
  • No more than 12 credits in Dissertation (MSC 699–Dissertation in Applied Coastal and Ocean Sciences)
  • Multi-chapter dissertation written for publication that includes written results of research inventory and triage
  • Public defense
  • 3-minute speed pitch, modeled on 3-Minute Thesis

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