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MSc in Environmental and Ocean Sciences

Master (ISCED 2011 level 7)


Duration 4 semesters
Cost $1,555 USD per course unit

The Department of Environmental and Ocean Sciences offers graduate work leading to the degree of Master of Science in Environmental and Ocean Sciences with two tracks, Marine Science and Environmental Science. This degree is based largely on research and is intended to provide graduate students with an opportunity to design experiments or observations that test hypotheses; to contribute new information to a knowledge base; and to learn to write in a way that facilitates scientific exchange. The program, which combines coursework and research, culminates in a written thesis. The program utilizes not only the excellent facilities at the University of San Diego’s Shiley Center for Science and Technology, but those of some nearby institutions, such as the Southwest Fisheries Science Center (National Marine Fisheries, NOAA), Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, the Leon R. Hubbard Hatchery, and the Tijuana National Estuarine Research Reserve. Thesis committees may be headed by USD Environmental and Ocean Sciences graduate faculty, as well as affiliated graduate faculty members. Committee members are drawn from the Environmental and Ocean Sciences faculty at USD, other science departments at USD and senior research scientists at Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and other institutions.

Our faculty currently are involved in research in ecology, environmental geochemistry, climatology, paleoclimatology, hydrology, oceanography, marine biology, locomotion and fluid dynamics, fluvial geomorphology, physiology, and population genetics. Affiliated faculty work in the areas of bioacoustics, fisheries, aquaculture, molecular genetics, hydrogeology, ecology, marine pollution and physiology.

Structural components
Laboratory training
Practical/Field work

Application procedure

The first step in conducting research as a MS student is choosing a research advisor. It is the policy of the MS EOSC Program for each applicant to have a provisional advisor before being accepted.

Application for admission should be made online at the University of San Diego’s Office of Graduate Admissions website. Supporting documentation, such as official transcripts, must be mailed to:

Office of Graduate Admissions
University of San Diego
5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
(619) 260-4524

An important element of an application is a personal statement that addresses the applicant’s specific research interests and their compatibility with the expertise of particular MSEOS faculty person. It is strongly recommended that potential applicants contact one or more of the graduate faculty about conducting research under their supervision before submitting an application. Before contacting a potential faculty mentor, it is very useful for students to familiarize themselves with the faculty member’s research.

All applicants should solicit letters of recommendation from three professors who are familiar with the applicant's scholarly work or from professional supervisors who have had experience in a graduate program and can provide information regarding the applicant's potential for success as a graduate student. Recommendations from coaches, family friends, and other people who are familiar with the applicant may be helpful but should not be submitted in place of the three academic recommendations. Review of applications that do not include three academic reference letters may be delayed.

Grant opportunities

Dean's Graduate Merit Scholarships, which typically are awarded during a student's first two years in the program. In addition, Environmental and Ocean Sciences faculty may have grants or contracts that can help to support students.

Assuming you have applied for financial aid before the April 1 deadline and filled out a FAFSA, the university may provide an additional grant that can cover up to 25% of tuition costs.

There are also a limited number of work positions available in the department for 10-15 hours per week.

Learning outcomes

Students who complete a M.S. in Environmental and Ocean Sciences at the University of San Diego should:

  • Display mastery and breadth of knowledge of the fundamental principles of Environmental and Ocean Science.
  • Be able to place their research in an appropriate scholarly context and consider multiple, diverse viewpoints within their field.
  • Be able to formulate and test scientific hypotheses by conducting independent research and analyzing, critiquing and interpreting scientific data, including the integration of knowledge and practice across content areas, as appropriate.
  • Be able to communicate scientific information ethically and effectively.



Applicants for admission to the University of San Diego graduate programs must hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an accredited and approved institution.

Required pre-requisite coursework: Undergraduate major in a science; a minimum of one year of chemistry with laboratory and one semester each of life science for science majors with laboratory, calculus, statistics, physics for science majors with laboratory and earth or atmospheric science for science majors with laboratory (Environmental Science track).

Minimum GPA: 3.0 (4.0 scale) in all undergraduate coursework.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test; subject test in a science field (recommended).

ISCED Categories

Marine Geology
Physical and chemical oceanography