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Master of Arts in Marine Science

Master (ISCED 2011 level 7)


Duration 4 semesters
Entry level Bachelor
Cost Entering 2020-2021 IN-STATE $17,434

M.A. in Marine Science


Program Overview

The M.A. in Marine Science (32 credits) is an up to two-year degree program designed to prepare students to enter the workforce as marine science professionals.  Through coursework and training, students gain advanced knowledge and skills that will enhance their ability to translate, integrate, and apply marine science in a variety of settings and allow them to work effectively in partnership with academics, other professionals, decision makers, and the public.  The program requirements include graduate-level coursework, research training through a capstone project, an internship experience, and professional development in areas such as collaboration, communication, and leadership.

The M.A. Program overview can be found through our Program Brochure

Program Curriculum 

The M.A. program curriculum provides students with the foundational knowledge and skills they need as marine science professionals.  Required courses introduce students to concepts and principles relating to geo-physical, chemical, biological, and anthropogenic processes of marine and coastal systems.  Students will learn responsible conduct of science, public expectations for scientists, and the application of science to societal issues. Coursework also provides students with a suite of statistical and numerical skills that are necessary tools in marine science research and analysis.

  • 14-15 credit hours in Core courses
  • 6 credit hours in Advanced courses
  • 1-2 credit hours in Elective courses
  • 6 credit hours of Capstone
  • 4 credits of Internship
  • Professional Development opportunities

Further information on M.A. program course requirements can be found here

M.A. students are advised by the Program Director. This faculty member supports students in identifying course requirements, professional development experiences, capstone topics, and internship opportunities.

As a part of William & Mary, VIMS is connected with their highly ranked schools in Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, and Law.  Our students can access courses, resources, and networks across these academic interests to better enhance their graduate experience.  These university wide resources provide students who pursue the M.A. with a comprehensive academic curriculum and allow for them to pursue a wide range of professional and career development opportunities.


For the capstone project course, each student works with a VIMS faculty member and an external advisor to design and conduct a research project on a relevant and important marine science issue.  Faculty at VIMS have expertise in a broad range of marine science disciplines and can advise in areas such as aquaculture, habitat conservation and restoration, fisheries management, pollution issues, water quality, effects of climate change on marine ecosystems, or coastal flooding resilience.  Review our faculty research areas to identify topics of interest.


For the internship, students will work at an organization that aligns with their employment area of interest.  These organizations may include universities, government agencies, non-profit organizations, or business and industry.  VIMS is dedicated to the experiential success of each of its students and will assist in securing internships with host organizations.  Potential internship opportunities also exist within VIMS units such as the Aquaculture, Genetics and Breeding Technology Center; Marine Advisory Program; Center for Coastal Resource Management; Office of Research & Advisory Service; Eastern Shore Laboratory; and with VIMS’ on-campus federal partners, the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and Virginia Sea Grant.  Students are also able to seek out and obtain their own unique internship experience, with the approval of the program director.

Structural components
Industry partners
Internship/Workplace experience
Laboratory training
Practical/Field work
Language training

Application procedure

The School of Marine Science (SMS) online application will be available in August for Fall 2020 admission. Applicants should plan to take all applicable tests (GRE, TOEFL or IELTS) no later than November 2019. 

Key Dates

  • January 6 - deadline for submission of online application by applicant, including unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.  The application also includes the online payment of the $50 (US) non-refundable application fee.  The application is not complete until the fee has been paid.
  • January 6 - deadline for receipt of test scores from ETS and IELTS (if applicable, in lieu of TOEFL)
  • January 6 - deadline for receipt of letters of recommendation from your referees
  • April 15 - latest date for notification of admission

Application Components

  • Completed bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)
  • Unofficial transcripts uploaded for all completed course work (official transcripts will be requested if your application is selected for further review)
  • GRE scores
    • School code - 5115
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores, for all international applicants
    • TOEFL School code - 5115
  • Resumé or CV
  • Essay / objective statement
  • Three letters of recommendation

See our Application Instructions for more details. 


M.S. & Ph.D. Applicants Only

As you apply, please review descriptions of the research programs of our faculty and contact faculty members with whom you share research interests.  Discuss with them specific research areas, funding opportunities, and program information.

Information about the on-line application system is available here.

Apply Now! 


Contact Information and Mailing Address for Application Materials

Office of Academic Studies - Admissions

Post Office Box 1346

Gloucester Point, VA 23062  USA

e-mail: Office of Academic Studies - Admissions
Telephone: (804) 684-7105

Fax: (804) 684-7881

Grant opportunities

Tuition & Financial Aid

Tuition information for the SMS can be found on William & Mary's website.  VIMS recognizes the importance of supporting students in their study of marine science, and has some tuition scholarships, fellowships, teaching assistantships, and work-study opportunities available for M.A. program students that help to reduce program costs.


M.A. Admissions

The Master of Arts in Marine Science program is open to traditional and non-traditional students.  The prospective student must have a B.A. or B.S. from an accredited institution and be able to demonstrate preparation for graduate-level courses in science and the other requirements of the program.

ISCED Categories

Physical and chemical oceanography