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

Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies (M.S.)


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Mission Statement

The Master of Science degree program in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies is taught and administered by Gupta College of Science graduate faculty with expertise in the issues and problems facing coastal areas and wetlands both locally and globally. It was selected and developed to take educational advantage of the unique natural resources of the region and thus faculty and students become important intellectual resources for the region. The purpose of this degree program is to provide students with the tools and abilities to assess, comprehend, and synthesize a broad range of scientific information. This will, in turn, allow them to assume employment as professionals in the environmental field, to become stewards of the environment, and to also pursue further graduate study. The goals of the program, as outlined below, are satisfied through coursework, teaching opportunities, and either the completion of a thesis, internship, or additional skill-building coursework.

The Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies graduate program consists of two options (1) 24 credit hours of coursework and 6 credit hours of thesis research or (2) 36 credit hours of coursework, 6 of which can be an internship or special topics. Courses are taught primarily by faculty members from the departments of biology and marine science. The coursework involves core courses stressing coastal physical processes, ecology, scientific communication, quantitative methods, and environmental policy. Various electives provide students with skills in areas such as: geographic information systems, R, MATLAB®, statistical analysis, experimental design, and time series analysis methods as well as theoretical background in various areas of chemical, geological, and physical oceanography along with organism biology, ecology, and conservation biology.

Located near coastal marshes, swamps, a large unregulated river, barrier islands, and the ocean, the program offers exceptional opportunities for basic and applied research. Students pursue projects that contribute to the characterization and preservation or management of the coastal environment and ecosystem including the organisms that thrive in this ecosystem. Research conducted by graduate students and their faculty mentors is typically presented to the public via seminars, conferences and/or publications. Teaching assistantships, research assistantships and fellowships are available on a competitive basis.

Coastal AIMS 

The Coastal Accelerated Integrated Marine Science (Coastal AIMS) program offers a comprehensive pathway for highly motivated students to complete all coursework requirements for both the B.S. in Marine Science and the M.S. in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies within five years.  Highly motivated students would enroll in above-average course loads during their first three years of study, enabling them to take up to 12 graduate credits via the Transitional Study and/or the Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s program during their fourth year, or after completion of at least 90 undergraduate credits for the B.S. in Marine Science.  Eligibility requirements for these two programs vary and each student should consult their academic advisor to determine the appropriate program for their Coastal AIMS pathway. To be eligible for Coastal AIMS, a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0, and an average GPA of 3.0 or better in the 300-level MSCI core courses must be maintained.  Full acceptance to the CMWS program will occur at the completion of the B.S. degree requirements, fulfillment of the above-listed academic standards, and application to the program by submitting a graduate application and all required supporting documents.  GRE scores and application fees will be waived for this application. Also required with the application are two letters of recommendation from CCU Graduate Faculty and, to pursue the thesis track, a written commitment from a Graduate Faculty member to serve as the student’s M.S. thesis advisor.  In addition to offering an expedited pathway to both the B.S. and M.S. degrees, students eligible for Coastal AIMS may use elective course substitutions for up to two graduate core courses, and could potentially double count up to 9 credits between the B.S. and M.S. degrees through the Accelerated Bachelor’s/Master’s program.  For more information, contact the chair of the Department of Marine Science or send an email to marine_graduate_info@coastal.edu.

Program Goals

Building on the knowledge and experience of students graduated from undergraduate programs in traditional core science disciplines (biology, geology, oceanography, environmental science, etc.), the goals of this program are to prepare highly-trained professionals who can perform:

  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 marine and wetland environments;
  2. Mastering in a scientific field: Demonstrate state-of-the-art knowledge for a specific field of research, its applications, methods and techniques used, and quantitative skills in coastal marine and wetland environments;
  3. Communication: Develop visual, written, and oral communication skills surrounding coastal marine and wetland environments, comprising of both scientific and public communications;

Student Learning Outcomes

  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. (Goal 1)
  4. Adapt and adjust the acquired knowledge to fit own research project conclusions. (Goal 1)
  5. Learn and understand the scientific principles underlying the scientific field. (Goal 2)
  6. Apply state-of-the-art techniques. (Goal 2)
  7. Compose written records of technical activities and scientific findings. (Goal 3)
  8. Perform presentations to the scientific community and public. (Goal 3)
  9. Demonstrate capability to engage in professional dialog and discussion. (Goal 3)

Graduate Applications

Applications for graduate study should be directed to the Office of Graduate Studies at Coastal Carolina University.

Admission Requirements

Regular admission to the Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies is met by satisfactorily meeting the following criteria:

  1. Completion of an application form.
  2. Submission of an official transcript from each post-secondary school or college previously attended (all prior undergraduate academic study must be represented as well as other graduate study). Transcripts should show a minimum overall graduating GPA of 3.0 and a minimum GPA of 3.0 in any graduate work already completed.
  3. Evidence of having received a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution in this country or its equivalent at a foreign institution based on a four-year degree program.
  4. Completion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The University expects successful applicants to have a score of no less than 150 on both the verbal and quantitative portions.
  5. Submission of at least three letters of recommendation.
  6. Submission of a written statement of educational and career goals, how this degree will fulfill those goals and the subject area of interest while completing this degree.
  7. Submission of a resume.
  8. If a non-native speaker of English, the applicant must also meet the language requirements for international graduate admission  outlined in the Graduate Catalog.

Provisional Admission

Applicants may receive provisional admission in the Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies degree program if they do not meet the stated admission requirements and are entering the University for the first time or are returning to the University after an extended absence. Students on provisional admission are limited to 12 hours of course work.

Removal of Provisional Status

To remove provisional status the student must, within the first two major academic semesters (either Fall, Spring, or Spring, Fall):

  1. Earn a B or better in two core courses;
  2. Maintain a 3.0 GPA in all graduate courses taken;
  3. Earn a B or better in all undergraduate prerequisites required as specified in the provisional acceptance letter.

Admission to Candidacy

Admission to the graduate program in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies does not signify Admission to Candidacy. To be eligible for Admission to Candidacy for the Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies, a student must choose either the thesis or professional studies track and then satisfy the corresponding requirements.

  1. Achieve regular admission status;
  2. Have a degree plan and thesis proposal approved by the major professor/advisor, Graduate Advisory Committee and marine science associate chair of graduate programs, or have a degree plan approved by the major professor/advisor and marine science associate chair of graduate programs (professional studies track);
  3. Complete a minimum of 12 semester hours of graduate work at Coastal Carolina University; and
  4. Have earned a B or better average on all graduate work pursued and a B or better in each core course.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies requires:

  1. Successful completion of an approved program of study with a minimum of 30 graduate hours including a thesis, or 36 graduate hours of coursework including CMWS 500  and CMWS 617 ;
  2. Admission to Candidacy;
  3. A minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B) on all course work;
  4. Completion, presentation, and successful defense of a thesis; or, completion of 36 hours of coursework including CMWS 500  and CMWS 617 ; and
  5. All work applied toward the degree must be earned in the six years immediately preceding the completion of the graduate program.

Note: Transfer credit(s) cannot be used to raise the GPA at CCU.

Thesis Track

Students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. degree in the future, or in employment as scientists in the environmental field with federal, state, or local agencies, not-for-profit organizations or private businesses may choose the thesis track. Students choosing the thesis track based on original research must assemble a thesis committee of at least three (3) members in the second semester of enrollment. The committee will consist of at least three (3) CCU graduate faculty members including the major professor/advisor who will chair the committee. An approved member from an outside institution may also be included. The thesis committee will meet with the student to assess progress and to give advice. Before graduation, when the thesis is complete, students will notify the marine science associate chair for graduate programs who will schedule, in coordination with the student’s Graduate Advisory Committee, the public defense of the thesis.

Professional Studies Track

Students interested in future employment as professionals in the environmental field with federal, state, or local agencies, not-for-profit organizations or private businesses may choose the professional studies track. Completing a hands-on experiential component is not required but strongly encouraged. Students who select this track may complete an internship course (CMWS 701 , total of 6 credits) with a sponsoring public, non-profit or private laboratory, agency, or business. The internship must be approved by the marine science associate chair of graduate programs and the outside supervisor, and should be related to the student’s educational and career goals. The details of the work should be described and filed with the marine science associate chair before beginning the internship. Although a student’s graduate advisor will provide guidance, it is the responsibility of each student to seek and secure an internship. Alternatively, students may seek to include up to six credits of special topic courses in which they can complete small projects or focused study. 

Enrollment Requirement

Students in the Coastal Marine and Wetlands Studies program must be continuously enrolled during all phases of graduate work. This includes Fall, Spring, and Summer terms (the Summer term here is inclusive of Maymester, Summer I, and Summer II). This requirement is typically satisfied by registering for a minimum of one graduate credit in each term. However, the situation may arise where students have completed all course requirements except for the thesis or internship. In this case, students must enroll in CMWS 702  (Project Completion) in order to satisfy the continuous enrollment requirement. Registering in CMWS 702  maintains email and library privileges and also allows access to University facilities and faculty advisers. CMWS 702  does not count toward degree requirements and does not substitute for the six credit hour requirement in CMWS 700  (Thesis Research) or for the six credit hour requirement in CMWS 701  (Internship).  

Thesis Track Degree Requirements (30 Graduate Credit Hours)


The Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies thesis option requires the successful completion of an approved program of study with a minimum of 30 graduate credit hours. Within the approved program are three core courses, one seminar course, 12 credit hours of electives, and a required thesis. 

Graduate Seminar Course (3 Credit Hours)


Electives (12 Credit Hours)


(Choose 12 credit hours)

Electives must be 500 level or above courses from BIOL, CHEM, CMWS (with the exception of CMWS 701), MATH, MSCI, PHYS, or STAT, GEOG 611 , or another approved graduate course.

A maximum of 6 credit hours at the 500 level may be used towards completing degree requirements. 

 

Thesis Research (6 Credit Hours)


Professional Studies Track Degree Requirements (36 Graduate Credit Hours)


The Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies professional studies track option requires the successful completion of an approved program of study with a minimum of 36 graduate credit hours. Within the approved program are five core courses, one seminar course, 18 credit hours of electives, and optional experiential component (internship, cooperative work experience, or project). 

Graduate Seminar Course (3 Credit Hours)


Electives (18 Credit Hours)


Electives must be 500 level or above courses from BIOL, CHEM, CMWS, MATH, MSCI, PHYS, STAT, GEOG 611  or another approved graduate course.

A maximum of nine credit hours at the 500 level may be used towards completing degree requirements. A maximum of six special topics or internship credits may be used towards completing degree requirements.

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