The undergraduate minor in Marine Science introduces students to the global importance of marine ecosystems, their role in driving global biogeochemical cycles, and their significance to society as a source of food and in regulating climate. Students learn about the ocean’s biodiversity, from microbes to whales; its varied habitats, from intertidal to blue water; and the complex physical and biological processes that shape marine ecosystems. Through a broad range of lecture and field courses, the curriculum is designed to provide students with a strong foundation in the fundamentals of marine science while also allowing the flexibility to explore specific areas of interest at a detailed level. Courses both discipline-specific and interdisciplinary, as well as individual research opportunities, allow students to study different components of the oceans including its sea floor, chemical constituents, physical dynamics, and organisms. This minor is complementary to both science and non-science majors.
The minor is jointly offered and administered by William & Mary's School of Marine Science (SMS) at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (VIMS) and Arts & Sciences. Courses are offered both on the main William & Mary campus and on the VIMS campus in Gloucester Point. Our location here on the Chesapeake Bay gives students the ability to explore this unique ecosystem firsthand, while field courses allow students to experience an even broader spectrum of environments.
Students pursuing a minor in Marine Science are required to take 18 credits of coursework. Two courses (6 credits total) are required: Introduction to Marine Science (MSCI 330) and Field Studies in Coastal Marine Environments (MSCI 331). The remaining credits are divided between electives and upper level courses in the subdisciplines of marine sciences. An alternative field-based marine science course can be substituted for the field studies course with permission of the Marine Science Advisory Committee. See the Undergraduate Catalog for details. We recommend that marine science minors take the Field Studies course during the summer following their freshman or sophomore year and before taking any of the Fundamentals of Marine Science courses.
One of the core components of the Marine Science Minor is to expose students to research work performed in a field setting. Several of the courses in the Marine Science Minor Curriculum focus on providing students with in-depth, hands-on field experience. For example, the required Field Studies in Coastal Marine Environments (MSCI331) introduces students to a wide variety of ecosystems that surround the Virginia Institute of Marine Science's Wachapreague campus located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Students are invited to propose, plan, and carry out their own research project, and prepare a presentation of their findings in front of an audience of their peers.
As well, many of the Minor's elective courses offer students the opportunity to participate in short field excursions in the Williamsburg, Gloucester Point, or Hampton Roads region, along with longer field components in the U.S. or abroad.
A few courses from the Marine Science Minor that incorporate field experience:
MSCI331 Field Studies in Coastal Marine Environments
MSCI332 Coastal Habitats of North Wales
BIOL404 Marine Ecology
BIOL427 Wetland Ecosystems
Students may also elect to complete an internship or directed independent research project with one or more of the faculty associated with the Minor in Marine Science. These sections should be arranged be either contacting the faculty member directly or contacting the Co-Directors of the program for assitance with placement.
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