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Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Marine and Estuarine Sciences

Master (ISCED 2011 level 7)


Duration 4 semesters
Entry level Bachelor
Cost Semester Tuition $2,846 (6.0 or less units) - $4,352 (6.0 or more units)

SF State’s Research Intensive Pedagogical Training of InterDisciplinary Estuarine Scientists (RIPTIDES) program is an innovative graduate training program developed with support from a National Science Foundation Research Trainee (NRT) award. Students participate in the RIPTIDES program through the Interdisciplinary Marine & Estuarine Sciences (IMES) Master of Science (MS) degree program. The programs are based at SF State's Estuary & Ocean Science (EOS) Center

Solving environmental problems of the coastal zone requires interdisciplinary skills and approaches. Researchers in the marine and estuarine sciences are collaborating with social scientists, government agencies, environmental and community planners, environmental lawyers, public health officials, natural resource managers, environmental and social justice advocates, economists, and other professionals to solve complex environmental problems. Graduates of the IMES MS and RIPTIDES programs are skilled scientists who appreciate the value of looking at a problem through different disciplinary lenses, can integrate the approaches of several disciplines and are adept in working in diverse teams.  

The IMES MS program combines coursework, an interdisciplinary research experience, a professional internship and co-curricular workshops to support students in developing their technical and professional skills. These skills prepare students for a variety of career pathways, including preparing them to pursue a PhD. The IMES MS is a 2-3 year program of full-time study. The length of the program depends on the type of research thesis project the student decides to pursue and their prior preparation. Most, but not all, courses required for the MS degree are offered at the Estuary and Ocean Science Center on the Romberg Tiburon Campus, 3150 Paradise Drive, Tiburon, CA. Some courses may only be offered at SF State’s city campus, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA. Students should plan on taking required coursework on both campuses.

Structural components
Summer schools
Internship/Workplace experience
Laboratory training
Practical/Field work
Research Project

Application procedure

  1. Research the RIPTIDES program on this website to determine if this is the right program for you.

  2. Research RIPTIDES faculty mentors to decide who may line up with your research interests here:

  3. Contact RIPTIDES faculty mentors by email and conduct a phone or video interview with them, RIPTIDES Coordinator Adam, and/or with the grad coordinator, Dr. Ellen

  4. Speak with current graduate students who are working with faculty mentors. 

  5. Contact us at for any further questions.


Completing the Cal State Apply Application from Graduate Studies on Vimeo.

  1. Log onto Cal State Apply's website @ 
  2. After you have made an account, please add your personal, academic, and any other supporting information to your account as shown here on the SF State Graduate Division website:
  3. Click on the "Add a program" link and select "Interdisciplinary Marine and Estuarine Science - RIPTIDES" from the list of SF State Graduate Programs.
  4. Under the "Program materials" link on your account, submit all of your prepared RIPTIDES application materials to the "Documents" and "Questions" tabs.

Grant opportunities

State University Grants (SUGs): SUGs is a gift aid for undergraduate, credential, and classified graduate California residents, paying resident tuition and registration fees. There is a limited amount of funding each year and all awards are conditional based on the availability of funds from the State. The SUG is designated specifically to pay a portion of students' basic tuition and fees, any other fee paying financial aid and/or resource you receive will affect the student's eligibility for SUG.

TEACH Grant: The TEACH Grant Program provides grant of up to $4,000 a year to students who are completing or plan to complete course work needed to begin a career in teaching.



  1. CV or Resume
  2. Personal Statement: Please write a 500-word essay in which you describe the reasons for your interest in interdisciplinary marine and estuarine science, your career and professional goals, and your reasons for wanting an Master's Degree in Interdisciplinary Marine and Estuarine Science at San Francisco State University. This statement should reflect on your creative and intellectual goals as a graduate student and in your future career. This is a very important part of your application. Please describe your educational background and preparation for graduate study. This statement is your opportunity to highlight academic and professional achievements and to describe any challenges faced while pursuing your education.
  3. Unofficial Transcripts: The Division of Graduate Studies requires you to upload unofficial copies of transcripts from every college or university attended, including study abroad coursework and community college coursework even if transfer credit appears on your degree transcript. Upload all transcripts to the documents section of this application. The Division of Graduate Studies may request official transcripts from you at any time during the application process in order to complete our review. Photographs of documents are not accepted. *(If selected for admission, you must submit official transcripts to the Division of Graduate Studies in order to secure your admission offer.)
  4. 3 letters of recommendation (to be submitted by the letter writer): You must have three (3) letters of recommendation submitted directly to the RIPTIDES program via Cal State Apply. Two of these letters, but preferably three, must come from academic mentors or professional scientific agency mentors. Letters should be written by individuals who can speak to your ability to carry on graduate study and research, general character, stability, and preparation for a career in the field of Marine and Estuarine Science. Letter of recommendation writers should submit this critical component of your application for graduate study through the “evaluations” section in your account on the Cal State Apply site. Writer's email addresses should be from academic institutions, professional organizations or other institutions (ex.,, or @ Full instructions are located on the "Evaluations" tab of the RIPTIDES "Program Details" Application Dashboard on Cal State Apply.
  5. GRE Score Report (OPTIONAL): YOU DO NOT NEED TO TAKE TO GRE TO BE ADMITTED INTO RIPTIDES.  However, you may upload unofficial GRE score reports if you wish. Be sure to request ETS send an official score to SF State using school code: 4684.
  6. English Language Proficiency Score Report (OPTIONAL): Students whose native language is not English and whose preparatory education was principally in a language other than English must submit an English language proficiency score report.

ISCED Categories

Personal skills and communication