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Master of Science in Marine Science

Master (ISCED 2011 level 7)


Duration 6 semesters
Entry level Bachelor
Cost Entering 2020-2021 IN-STATE $17,434

Program Overview

The M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are designed for students who wish to pursue science-focused careers at an advanced level.  The School of Marine Science offers diverse course work in marine science, as well as advanced quantitative method courses, and courses or training programs that help students develop the technical and professional skills that employers seek.  Graduates of the M.S. degree are well-prepared for further graduate study or for marine science careers in academia, government, and other employment sectors. Graduates of the Ph.D. program are well-prepared for advanced science careers and leadership, including at colleges and universities, federal agencies, and in the private sector.

The M.S. and Ph.D. Program overview can be found through our Program Brochure.

Program Curriculum 

The M.S. program (32 credits) normally requires 2.5 to 3 years for degree completion. In addition to coursework, students are required to pass a qualifying exam, give a public seminar and successfully defend a research prospectus and an original thesis.  Students must also complete two semesters of full-time residency on the VIMS campus.  Further program requirement information can be found in our Course Catalog

Structural components
Laboratory training
Practical/Field work
Research Project

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

Financial Aid

VIMS recognizes the importance of supporting students in their study of marine science, and has fellowships, scholarships, and work-study opportunities available to help reduce the costs.  Funding for students in the M.S. and Ph.D. programs comes from various sources, including institutional assistantships, fellowships, and tuition waivers; research grants and contracts awarded to the advisor; and external fellowship and research awards to the student.  In order to assess funding availability in a faculty-led research group, prospective students should contact faculty members directly. Additional information on cost and funding availability can be found here



Applicants for the M.S. and Ph.D. program should have a strong background in basic science, including physics, chemistry, mathematics, and contemporary biology courses.  Previous course work in statistics and using R are recommended.  The prospective student must have a B.A. or B.S. from an accredited institution and should have completed undergraduate course work to match their graduate academic interests.

Prospective students for the M.S. or Ph.D. programs in the School or Marine Science must identify and contact a potential faculty advisor to verify if space and funding is available.  Visit the department website to identify research opportunities and contact VIMS faculty members directly with inquiries about available research opportunities.

ISCED Categories

Physical and chemical oceanography