2023 - 2024 Graduate Catalog 
    
    Jul 17, 2024  
2023 - 2024 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Science: Coastal and Marine Systems Science (Ph.D.)


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The Doctoral program in Coastal and Marine Systems Science is designed to approach the study of complex coastal ocean, earth, atmosphere, biosphere, and societal interactions and the associated management applications as a single integrated system. The program builds on Coastal Carolina University’s focus on coastal zone environments, existing academic and research programs, and a long term commitment toward integrated management of South Carolina’s coastal systems.

Program Goals

Building on the knowledge and experience of students from undergraduate programs in traditional core science disciplines (biology, geology, oceanography, environmental science, etc.) and/or master’s degrees in related areas, the goals of this program are to prepare highly-trained scientists whom have achieved:

  1. Critical thinking: Perform independent intellectual work, evaluate and compare different scientific, technical and theoretical approaches, derive independent conclusions based on empirical/observational or modeled data in coastal and marine environments.
  2. Expertise in a scientific field: Demonstrate state-of-the-art knowledge within the specific field of research, useful applications, methods and techniques applied, and quantitative skills in coastal and marine environments. Ph.D. students are expected to contribute new knowledge within their research field.
  3. Communication: Develop visual, written, and oral communication skills surrounding coastal and marine systems, comprising of both scientific and public communications.

Student Learning Outcomes

After successfully completing the Doctoral degree requirements, students will be able to:

  1. Develop science-based working hypotheses. (Goal 1)
  2. Design valid field, lab, or computational experiments to test hypotheses. (Goal 1)
  3. Compile and analyze data and draw conclusions. (Goals 1)
  4. Adapt and adjust acquired knowledge to fit own research project conclusions. (Goals 1)
  5. Learn and understand the scientific principles underlying the scientific field. (Goal 2)
  6. Master state-of-the-art techniques. (Goal 2)
  7. Generate additional knowledge and/or revise existing knowledge in a research field. (Goal 2)
  8. Master written records of technical activities and scientific findings. (Goal 3)
  9. Perform presentations to the scientific community and public. (Goals 3)
  10. Demonstrate capability to engage in professional dialog and discussion . (Goals 3)

Admission Requirements

All applicants to the Ph.D. in marine science: coastal and marine systems science must meet the requirements for graduate admission to Coastal Carolina University, which includes:

  1. Successful completion of either a master’s or bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution in a program appropriate to support graduate work in coastal and marine systems.
  2. Completion of a Coastal Carolina University application form.
  3. A minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) documented by official transcripts for all collegiate and graduate coursework.
  4. Final, official transcripts for bachelor’s and master’s degrees (if applicable) are required to be received before formally beginning the program.
  5. Successful completion of at least two semesters of college-level calculus, physics, and chemistry and advanced coursework in scientific disciplines related to the student’s proposed research area.
  6. Unless the applicant has completed a thesis-based Master’s degree, copies of official scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are required. The University expects successful applicants to have a score of no less than 150 on both the verbal and quantitative portions. Scores must be less than three (3) years old. A master’s thesis (or thesis draft or thesis proposal) may be submitted in lieu of test scores.
  7. If a non-native speaker of English, the applicant must also meet the language requirements for international graduate admission , as outlined in the graduate catalog.
  8. Three (3) letters of recommendation outlining the applicant’s past work and preparation and potential for successful completion of doctoral studies.
  9. Identification of a Major Professor/Advisor.
  10. Submission of a written statement of educational and career goals, how the proposed degree will fulfill those goals and the subject area of research interest while completing the degree.
  11. Submission of a resume.

Applicants entering the program with a master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution may be awarded up to 30 credit hours for master’s work completed prior to admission to this program (see required elements of the curriculum below). The graduate admissions committee for the program can review the application materials submitted by each applicant to determine what graduate course credit may be applicable to the program’s coursework requirements.

Highly qualified applicants entering the program from a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree program may be accepted into the Ph.D. program through the general admission procedure outlined above. Students should include with their application a written recommendation by a faculty member who agrees to serve as their dissertation major professor/advisor.

Curriculum

The Ph.D. in Marine Science: Coastal and Marine Systems Science requires the successful completion of an approved program of study with a minimum of 60 graduate credit hours. The approved program of study includes a series of core and seminar courses required for all students, specialized content supporting a student’s individual research or academic needs, and a required dissertation. The core of the curriculum provides a comprehensive foundation across sub-disciplinary areas of marine science to facilitate a systems approach to the coastal marine environment and preparation for the Comprehensive Examination. Specialized coursework, directed study, and research courses identified by the student’s Graduate Advisory Committee are required to support student research and professional objectives.

Students may receive credits for an earned master’s degree in an area related to the doctoral program. The curriculum for the Ph.D. in Marine Science: Coastal and Marine Systems Science (60 credit hours) is as follows:

 

Program Requirements (60 Graduate Credit Hours)


Total Credits Required: 60


Comprehensive and Qualifying Examinations

Program Comprehensive Exam: Students are required to pass the comprehensive examination to be taken within a year of the completion of the core curriculum courses.

This exam is typically taken in or after the third semester in the program. The format of the exam consists of written and oral components. In the written exam, students will respond to questions established by the Comprehensive Examination Committee to assess the broad range of sub-disciplinary knowledge required to address complex coastal systems and the ability to identify and explain the linkages between sub-disciplinary concepts and processes. The committee will schedule a follow-up oral examination with each student based on the responses given in the written exam and allow for further examination of sub- and interdisciplinary knowledge and applications not emphasized in the written exam. Following the oral examination, the committee will identify one of the three following outcomes: pass, fail, or retake the exam as specified in the result letter or as approved by the Comprehensive Examination Committee. Students must pass the comprehensive examination to continue in the doctoral program. 

Students failing the comprehensive examination may request to convert their program of study to the CMWS master’s degree program with the positive recommendation of the student’s Graduate Advisory Committee, marine science associate chair of graduate programs, and approval by the marine science department chair. The associate chair of graduate programs, in consultation with the student’s Graduate Advisory Committee, will determine the applicable conversion of course and degree program requirements satisfied by work to date and provide an updated course of study to enable the student to complete the master’s program.

Qualifying Examination: Students are required to present and defend their dissertation research proposal. This examination of the student’s dissertation research plan and specific technical background required to complete the proposed research should be completed before the sixth full semester in residence to advance to candidacy in the program. The dissertation proposal will be constructed as a formal research proposal addressing the objective and need for the proposed research, a command of the existing literature and foundation of the proposed research, specific testable hypotheses or research questions/objectives, an experimental design and work plan to address these research questions, and a description of proposed analyses and the broader implications of the research results. The proposal is reviewed by the student’s Graduate Advisory Committee which will schedule a formal presentation and defense of the proposal by the student. The student’s Graduate Advisory Committee must consist of five members including the major professor/advisor, two CCU graduate faculty, and two external committee members. The proposal presentation will be open to all faculty and students. Following the public presentation, the committee will meet with the student for an oral examination of the proposal and presentation. The oral examination will assess the student’s research plan and preparation for the proposed research. The Committee will also identify any deficiencies in the proposal and assign one of three outcomes: pass with approval of the proposal/work plan; provisional pass that requires a re-submission of an improved proposal and work plan to be re-evaluated for approval by the student’s Graduate Advisory Committee; or failure. Upon passing the Qualifying Examination, the student may proceed with the completion of the dissertation research.

The student’s major professor/advisor will serve as chair of the examination. The role of the chair is to ensure the exam follows school requirements and that key questions related to overall program objectives (integrating concepts) are explored in addition to the more specific technical content being examined by the Graduate Advisory Committee and major professor/advisor. The chair of the committee also ensures that the committee’s vote on the acceptableness of the proposed work is documented along with any other information, perspectives or guidance for the student going forward.

Students failing the qualifying examination may request to convert their program of study to the CMWS master’s degree program with the positive recommendation of the student’s Graduate Advisory Committee, marine science associate chair of graduate programs, and approval by the marine science department chair. The marine science associate chair of graduate programs, in consultation with the student’s Graduate Advisory Committee, will determine the applicable conversion of course and degree program requirements satisfied by work to-date and provide an updated course of study to enable the student to complete the master’s program.   

Dissertation

Students will submit the results of their doctoral research as a formal dissertation and/or series of refereed publications in compliance with Coastal Carolina University Graduate Studies Office and program policy and procedures.

The marine science associate chair of graduate programs will schedule, in coordination with the student’s Graduate Advisory Committee, a formal public presentation and oral defense (examination) of the research.

The student’s major professor/advisor will serve as chair of the examination/defense. The role of the chair is to ensure the exam follows program requirements and that key questions related to overall program objectives (integrating concepts) are explored in addition to the more specific technical content being examined by the Graduate Advisory Committee and major professor. The chair of the committee also ensures that the committee’s vote on the acceptableness of the dissertation is documented along with any other information, perspectives or guidance for the student going forward.

Upon passing the defense, and with approval of the student’s Graduate Advisory Committee, the student will submit the completed dissertation as specified by the marine science associate chair of graduate programs.

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