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Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Science

PhD (ISCED 2011 level 8)


Duration 8 semesters
Cost For information visit

Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program (PhD)

Four to six years of graduate study, which will include original research and practical experience as a Teaching Assistant, are required to complete the Ph.D. in Marine Science. The Doctoral program should contain no fewer than 21 hours of acceptable graduate work in marine science and no less than 6 hours in supporting areas, in addition to dissertation and supervised teaching. Of this minimal requirement of 21 hours, 12 hours of core courses must be completed. Core courses are listed in the Graduate Catalog. Supporting work from outside the major program (area of specialty) may include courses taken at another institution. To be eligible for admission to candidacy, all doctoral students must complete their core courses and pass a qualifying examination in their area of specialization. This examination will also confirm that students are competent in the other three subdisciplines. Candidacy requirements are normally completed by the end of the second year. All doctoral candidates write a dissertation based on the results of their original research, and make a formal oral defense of the document to complete the degree requirements.


Each graduate student will normally select one of the subdisciplines as an area of specialization. Based on the present faculty potential, marine biology and marine chemistry would be the Department's strongest areas of specialization for students. As an example, a doctoral student might base the majority of his/her course work and dissertation topic in marine biology. The dissertation research would frequently integrate one or more of the other subdisciplines studied. Students opting for a major thrust in marine chemistry would follow a similar program with chemistry forming the major part of their curriculum. Similarly, masters students would specialize in one subdiscipline.

General Information for Graduate Students

Graduate study in the Department of Marine Science requires course work at Austin and Port Aransas and a research project in Port Aransas. The exact program will be determined by the student's interest, the research field of his supervisor and the required courses. At present, faculty are conducting research on basic and applied aspects of the following marine science subdisciplines:  marine ecosystem dynamics, marine biogeochemistry, and adaptations to the marine environment. Marine science is the study of the marine environment including marine organisms, processes, and systems so each student's program will involve direct contact with the sea, its plants and animals and/or the physical and chemical forces which drive it.

Facilities for graduate work in marine science are based in Austin and at the shore-side laboratory of the Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, Texas. The Institute is located on the Aransas Pass ship channel among the dunes at the tip of Mustang Island, with easy access to bays, beaches, and the Gulf of Mexico. Environmental systems nearby include the hypersaline Laguna Madre, seagrass meadows, fresh and salt water marshes, and the continental shelf. The Port Aransas facility offers research vessels, a specialized library, classrooms, laboratories, and flowing seawater system.

Course work taken in Austin often includes supporting work in other natural science departments. At least one semester is normally spent on the main campus. Students then reside in Port Aransas while they undertake thesis or dissertation research at the Marine Science Institute. These students also take additional courses there, including the majority of their core courses, other organized courses, seminars, and training cruises. Graduate student apartments are available at the Institute.

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

Application procedure

Admission requirements: The student's undergraduate training should include twenty-four semester hours in one of the life or physical sciences. At least twelve of these hours must be in upper-division work. Adequate preparation in mathematics, chemistry and physics is expected of all students.


If you plan to attend The University of Texas at Austin and study for a graduate degree in the Department of Marine Science, you should keep the following points in mind:

  • Early application to The University and the Department is to your advantage (the Graduate School Application is available on the web here).
  • The GRE exam must be taken and reported before you can be admitted.
  • You will take courses at Austin and Port Aransas.
  • The Graduate Advisor will guide your application, so keep in touch.
  • You should let us know your scientific interests and you are encouraged to make direct contact with individual faculty members during the application process.

Grant opportunities



E.J. Lund and Julian C. Barton Scholarships are available in Marine Science. Income from these endowment funds are for awards for graduate students of exceptional merit. Four to six students are selected through an annual competition and supported for up to twelve months. Only applicants who have never previously received support qualify. Awards are limited to students who will be in resident at the Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas at the time they use the Fellowship.


The Office of Graduate Studies administers a small number of highly competitive fellowships. The recipients are selected on the basis of merit and academic excellence. These University Fellows receive tuition and fees in addition to their stipend. Awards are offered as soon as an eligible candidate is identified until all the funding has been committed. Obviously, it is urgent that the application file be completed at the earliest possible date.


Deadline: Opens annually 31 March

ISCED Categories

Physical and chemical oceanography