Jun 21, 2024  
2022-2023 Cal State East Bay Catalog 
2022-2023 Cal State East Bay Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Marine Science, M.S.

Marine Science, M.S. (30 units)

Program Description

This degree program, offered through the Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, provides the opportunity for students to acquire a practical and theoretical education in the marine sciences to prepare them for careers as marine specialists, scientists, and teachers. The program at Moss Landing provides interdepartmental work and a field facility for advanced study in the marine sciences which cannot be duplicated on the Cal State East Bay campus.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with an M.S.in Marine Science from Cal State East Bay will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of fundamental concepts in a particular category of oceanography and marine science and
    • be able to synthesize and integrate across all of these fields, yet achieve a depth of understanding in the student’s individual specialty or field of study (MLML specialties include Physical Oceanography, Biological Oceanography, Chemical Oceanography, Geological Oceanography, Marine Phycology, Marine Ichthyology, Marine Turtle, Bird and Mammal Ecology, and Marine Invertebrate Zoology.)
  2. Demonstrate the ability to critically analyze scientific research, whether the student’s own research, or that performed by others.
  3. Pose relevant scientific hypotheses or questions that may then serve to guide thesis research.
  4. Demonstrate proficiency in the design and implementation of experiments or data collection methodologies to address specific hypotheses/questions.
  5. Master the skills and tools of data collection and analysis (including analytical and statistical techniques as appropriate) specific to the student’s scientific field of study.
  6. Demonstrate the ability to place ones own research within the larger context of relevant field of scientific study and to clearly identify the implications of this research for that field.
  7. Demonstrate proficiency in oral and written communication by being able to present research clearly and concisely. This includes thoughtful and thorough oral and written presentation of their thesis and their responses to questions. 

Career Opportunities

The master’s of science in marine science is for students interested in careers in marine science, education and outreach, conservation, policy and management, as well in research through the pursuit of doctoral degrees related to the marine sciences. 

Admission to the Program

The master’s degree program in marine science is administered through either the Department of Biological Sciences or Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, depending on the choice of the student, and the program is delivered at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML). The prospective student must meet the admission requirements of either of these departments and of the MLML (refer to descriptions of these department graduate programs and to the MLML program for complete information). Students will be accepted as “Conditionally Classified Graduate” students in the department of their choice upon completion of the admission requirements. The field of marine science is highly competitive, as is acceptance into the MLML master’s program.  Students accepted by MLML typically have a well-rounded background in science, mathematics, and research. MLML has no GPA or GRE minimums, but admitted students generally have a GPA of 3.2 or greater and GRE scores in the upper 30th percentile.  Students who studied marine science or a related field as undergraduates are preferred, but such a background is not required. Prospective students must select an MLML faculty advisor(s) through whom to apply and contact them by email before applying.  Applicants are advised to choose the faculty member whose research is most closely aligned with his or her own area of interest within the field.  For a list of faculty advisors, visit the MLML Faculty Directory. Applicants applying to the marine science program through Cal State East Bay should check with their potential MLML faculty advisor to discuss whether additional courses are required for admittance.  Newly admitted students must meet the entrance requirements of the CSU consortium campus and the MLML. The student will become a “Classified Graduate” student upon completion of MLML’s requirements (below).

MLML Classification in the Program

A “Conditionally Classified Graduate” student may become a fully “Classified Graduate” student in the marine science program as set forth in the following steps:

  1. Obtain an adviser at MLML and one from the science department at the home campus. Each new student in the master’s program at MLML will be assigned an advisor who may or may not be the final thesis advisor.
  2. Make up any coursework deficiencies in either the Cal State East Bay department (see their regulations) and/or at MLML.  Three of the following five courses are prerequisites for “Classified Graduate” standing: MSC 403 - Marine Ecology, MSC 441 - Geological Oceanography, MSC 442 - Physical Oceanography, MSC 443 - Chemical Oceanography, and MSC 444 - Biological Oceanography. Upon certification that the equivalent courses have been satisfactorily completed previously, the graduate committee may allow substitutions for these courses.
  3. Students who do not receive a grade of “B” or better in the courses described in the prerequisites above taken at MLML, or who wish to substitute equivalent courses taken elsewhere regardless of the grade(s) received, must petition to have the courses accepted, or must pass a written qualifying examination given by the faculty at MLML. The examination will substitute for any equivalent examination given by home campus departments. There is no official time limit, but the exam should be taken as soon as possible; only a limited number of units taken while in “Conditionally Classified” status can be counted toward the degree. The exam may be repeated once, and must be passed before the student can be “Classified.” The examination will consist of a choice of five out of six questions designed to test knowledge of the concepts and principles of oceanography, marine ecology, and statistics as covered in the courses listed under prerequisites above. It will be used to evaluate the student’s background in these subject areas and the ability to write well and formulate answers logically. Each answer will be graded “pass” or “fail” by two faculty members (a third faculty member will resolve disagreements) on accuracy, content, and ability to clearly communicate. For a reading list covering the required material and further details concerning the exam, see MLML’s Assistant to the Director.
  4. Students must have satisfied the MCC-UDEAN-GRADIR- Graduation Requirement in Writing Proficiency [GRADUATE](GDRP)(GRAD)  according to Cal State East Bay standards. For more information on meeting the University Writing Skills Requirement, contact the Testing Office at (510) 885-3661.

Advancement to Candidacy

In order to be Advanced to Candidacy, the student must have:

  • Attained “Classified Graduate” standing;
  • Selected a thesis problem and a thesis advisor committee. The thesis committee will be composed of at least three members, including one faculty member from MLML (who is ordinarily the thesis advisor) and, at the discretion of the home campus, a representative from that campus. The other member or members of the thesis committee may be from MLML, the home campus, or elsewhere, with the approval of the thesis advisor.
  • Curricular Requirements

A student becomes eligible for the master’s degree in Marine Science after the following requirements have been satisfied:

  1. The student has been Advanced to Candidacy.
  2. The student has satisfied MLML’s requirements for the degree.
  3. The student has completed the following curricular requirements:
    • A minimum total of 15 semester units of 600-level courses including MSC 697: Graduate Seminar (2 units) and MSC 691: University Thesis (4 units).
    • A total of not more than 15 semester units of 300- and/or 400-level courses.
    • A total of 30 units of coursework must be completed with a grade of ‘B’ or better.
  4. The student must have submitted a University Thesis approved by the thesis advisory committee. The thesis must conform to the rules set forth in the Cal State East Bay “University Writing Guide”.
  5. The student must successfully give an oral thesis defense in the form of a seminar open to the general public. The thesis advisory committee must be present, may require further oral questioning after the seminar, and will evaluate the success of the presentation.

Marine Science Degree Requirements (30 units)

Note: MLML degree requirements are the same for all students regardless of the student’s home CSU campus; admission, retention, and graduation procedures, however, vary by campus. All graduate students enter the program as Conditionally Classified and must satisfactorily complete MLML and CSU requirements to become Classified.

Elective Courses

Complete 14 units of coursework from the courses listed below:

Capstone Requirement

Students must complete a committee-approved university thesis for 4 units. The thesis must conform to the CSUEB thesis guidelines and meet the academic standards of the MLML graduate program.  An oral thesis defense in the form of a seminar open to the general public is required. The thesis committee must be present at the oral defense, may require further questioning after the seminar, and will evaluate the success of the presentation.

Other Graduate & Post-Baccalaureate Degree Requirements

In addition to departmental requirements, every student must also satisfy the University requirements for graduation as described throughout this catalog. These include the 70% unit residence requirement; the five-year rule on currency of subject matter; the minimum number of units in 600-level courses; the “C” minimum grade for each graduate course; the 3.00 cumulative grade point average; and the University Writing Skills Requirement, if applicable.

Note: For information on meeting the University Writing Skills Requirement, see Graduate Policies  or call the Testing Office at (510) 885-3661.

Department Courses Listed by Course Type

Biological Sciences Courses

Department of Biological Sciences

Go to information for this department.


Biological Sciences

Biological Sciences: Graduate

Marine Science (Moss Landing Marine Laboratories)

Marine Science: Graduate (Moss Landing Marine Laboratories)