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MS - Marine Science

Master (ISCED 2011 level 7)


Duration 2 semesters
Cost US$9,286

Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) is the second oldest marine lab on Monterey Bay. Established in 1966, it has an international reputation for excellence in marine science research and education. MLML administers the interdisciplinary Master's of Science in marine science for seven California State University (CSU) campuses: East Bay, Fresno, Monterey Bay, Sacramento, San Francisco, San José and Stanislaus. The hands-on, field-oriented MLML approach places students, faculty, research and staff where discoveries are made: at the frontiers of marine science worldwide. The wealth of nearby marine resources, excellent marine facilities and operations, renowned faculty and research-based curriculum combine to make the MLML program one of the best graduate programs of its kind in the United States. MLML provides students with a cutting-edge education that prepares them for careers in science, education and outreach, conservation, policy and management, and for doctoral studies.

For more information contact the graduate program coordinator at MLML at

Requirements for Graduation

University Graduation Requirements

Students must complete all residency, curriculum, unit, GPA, and culminating experience requirements as outlined in the Graduation Requirements section of the Graduate Policies and Procedures.

MS - Marine Science Graduation Requirements

Graduate students shall successfully complete 30 units of course work with a grade of "B" or better in each course, a thesis project, and an oral research defense to qualify for the M.S. degree in Marine Science at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. MLML program requirements are the same regardless of the student's home campus affiliation; however, admission, graduation and department requirements may vary from campus to campus.

Degree requirements for the M.S. degree in Marine Science are:

  • MS 104: Quantitative Marine Science with a grade of "B" or better, or transfer in with equivalent mathematical background. MS 104 course cannot be counted toward the 30-unit degree requirement.
  • Three of the following five Core Courses: MS 103: Marine Ecology, MS 141: Geological Oceanography, MS 142: Physical Oceanography, MS 143: Chemical Oceanography, and MS 144: Biological Oceanography. (Courses from accredited institutions may be transferred with approval from MLML faculty).A minimum of fifteen graduate units (200 level) Advanced Coursework including MS 285: Graduate Seminar (2 unit minimum and 4 unit maximum), MS 298: Research in Marine Science (2 unit maximum), and MS 299: Master's Thesis (Culminating Experience Plan A) (4 units).
  • Fulfillment of Classification, Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement and Advancement to Candidacy.
  • A thesis approved by the student's thesis committee. The thesis must conform to the rules set forth by the home campus graduate office and meet the academic standards of the MLML graduate program.
  • An oral thesis defense in the form of a seminar open to the general public. The student's thesis committee must be present, may request further oral questioning after the seminar, and will evaluate the success of the presentation.

All students shall maintain continuous enrollment in the MLML graduate program until all degree requirements are met. All students shall complete core courses by their third semester to qualify for Classified standing. If a student receives lower than a "B" in a core course, the student may either retake this course or take another core course to fulfill the Classification requirement. If a student receives lower than a "B" in a non-core class, the student may either retake the course or take another course to use towards the 30-unit requirement. Students may enroll in MS 298: Research in Marine Science, while they are conducting their research. Students are eligible to use 2-units of MS 298 toward their Advanced Coursework requirement. Students are encouraged to complete their degree requirements within three years.

Culminating Experience

Plan A (Thesis)

The thesis must meet university requirements as stipulated in this catalog and in the SJSU Master's Thesis and Doctoral Dissertation Guidelines. It will be written under the guidance of the candidate's thesis committee chair with the assistance of the thesis committee, and must meet the academic standards of the MLML program. The candidate for the MS in Marine Science at MLML must also successfully pass a final oral defense of the thesis, in the form of a seminar open to the general public, with the thesis committee evaluating the success of the presentation.

Structural components
Internship/Workplace experience
International component
Laboratory training
Practical/Field work
Research Project


Applicants must submit a complete graduate application by applying through the CSU Cal State Apply system at All admitted applicants must satisfy all SJSU catalog admission requirements. The university-level graduate application is separate from the program application. Apply separately to the university to obtain approval for university-level admission and to the department to obtain admission into the program. Program application and admission requirements are available at

Before applying to MLML, prospective students must select an MLML faculty advisor(s) before submitting application materials and schedule a visit to MLML. Discussing your application with a potential faculty advisor and visiting MLML will 1) provide you with a better understanding of what our program has to offer; 2) help you determine if the selected faculty advisor is the right academic mentor for you; 3) enable you to speak with the potential advisor about the application process; 4) allow you to speak with current students; and 5) strengthen your application and improve your chances of acceptance. More information can be found at

After completing the online program application by February 1, applicants must submit the following supplemental application materials to MLML-emailed as a single PDF attachment to the MLML Graduate Program Coordinator-by February 15:

  • Statement of Purpose - detailing (at a minimum) 1) why you want to study marine science, 2) why you want to attend MLML, 3) your background in marine science, 4) your specific research interests, and 5) what long-term goals you ultimately intend to pursue by attending MLML;
  • CV/Resume - summarizing relevant academic and professional experience, including 1) academic background (degrees earned, GPA, relevant coursework), 2) research experience, and 3) relevant employment history, volunteer experience, and/or memberships;
  • Unofficial Transcripts - from all post-secondary institutions attended; and
  • Unofficial GRE scores - MLML does not require the GRE, but it is strongly recommended. Submit your unofficial GRE scores to MLML by either downloading your score report from the ETS website, or scanning the score report mailed to you by ETS, and including it in the PDF you email to the MLML Graduate Program Coordinator.

Please see SJSU's minimum score requirements listed on the Graduate Program Test Requirement webpage.

Applicants must also request to have three letters of recommendation sent to the program from people familiar with their academic and/or professional background. Letters of recommendation must be emailed directly from your recommenders as a .pdf attachment to the MLML Graduate Program Coordinator at by February 15.

These application instructions can also be found at:

Applicants may be admitted either as conditional or classified. Conditionally admitted applicants will have some condition(s), such as completion of additional coursework, placed upon their admission into the MLML program; classified students are admitted into the program without any such condition(s).

Applicants from countries in which the native language is not English must achieve a minimum English-language proficiency test score as indicated on the Graduate Program Test Requirement webpage at SJSU GAPE.

ISCED Categories

Conservation and environmental management
Marine Geology
Physical and chemical oceanography