The Master of Science degree program in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies is taught and administered by College of Science 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 are satisfied through coursework, teaching opportunities, and either the completion of a thesis 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 the School of Coastal Environment. The coursework involves core courses stressing coastal physical processes, ecology, scientific communication, quantitative methods, and environmental policy. Various electives provide students with skills in conservation biology, geographic information systems, statistics, wetland delineation, geophysical surveying as well as the theoretical background in specific areas of organism biology and ecology.
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 ecosystem and 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 or publications. Teaching assistantships, research assistantships and fellowships are available on a competitive basis.
Coastal AIMS Plan
The Coastal Accelerated Integrated Marine Science (Coastal AIMS) Plan offers a comprehensive plan 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 program during their fourth year. Students applying to the AIMS Plan must maintain a minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0, and earn an average GPA of 3.0 or better in the 300-level MSCI core courses. At the completion of at least 90 undergraduate credits, students accepted into the AIMS Plan will apply for conditional acceptance into the CMWS program. GRE scores and the application fee will be waived for this application, which will require two letters of recommendation from CCU Graduate Faculty and a written commitment from a Graduate Faculty member to serve as the student’s M.S. advisor. Full acceptance to the CMWS program will occur at the completion of the B.S. degree requirements and fulfillment of the above-listed academic standards. In addition to offering an expedited pathway to both the B.S. and M.S. degrees, students in the AIMS Plan may earn waivers for up to two graduate core courses. For more information, contact the Departments of Marine Science and/or Coastal and Marine Systems Science.
Student Learning Outcomes
- Identify assumptions within evidence-based coastal marine and wetland studies
- Generate relevant and accurate coastal marine and wetland data.
- Conduct qualitative and/or quantitative analysis of coastal marine and wetland data.
- Design and implement coastal marine and wetland field, laboratory and/or computational experiments.
- Identify and secure an internship in a coastal marine and wetland discipline.
- Integrate knowledge of temporal and spatial variability of coastal marine and wetland systems into recommendations for management.
- Apply a structured and specific process when making and recommending policy decisions on coastal marine and wetland studies.
Applications for graduate study should be directed to the Office of Graduate Studies at Coastal Carolina University.
Regular admission to the Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies is met by satisfactorily meeting the following criteria:
- Completion of an application form.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Submission of at least three letters of recommendation.
- Submission of a written statement of educational and career goals, how this degree will fulfill those goals and the subject area of research interest while completing this degree.
- Submission of a resume.
- If a non-native speaker of English, provide official results from tests taken within the last three years or one of the following acceptable means of documenting English language proficiency consistent with success in graduate programs (Note that higher scores may be required of some graduate programs so applicants are urged to consult their desired program to identify whether a higher score is required:
- A minimum score of 550 on the paper-based (PBT) or 79 on the internet (iBT) Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL);
- A minimum score of 6.5 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam;
- Certificate of Completion of level 112 of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) from an ELS Language Center;
- Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic with a score of 59;
- Cambridge CAE (Certificate of Advanced English ) with a minimum level of C1;
- Cambridge CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English) with a minimum level of C1;
- MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery) with a score of 77:
- TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) with a score of 745:
- Bachelor’s degree earned from a regionally accredited U.S. institution of higher education within the last three years.
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 academic semesters (either Fall, Spring, or Spring, Fall):
- Earn a B or better in two core courses;
- Maintain a 3.0 GPA in all graduate courses taken;
- 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 non-thesis option and then satisfy the corresponding requirements.
- Achieve regular admission status;
- Have a degree plan and thesis proposal approved by the major professor, thesis committee, Program Coordinator, and the Dean, or have a degree plan approved by the major professor, Program Coordinator, and the Dean (non-thesis option);
- Complete a minimum of 12 semester hours of graduate work at Coastal Carolina University; and
- Have earned a B or better average on all graduate work pursued and a B or better in the core courses.
The final decision for admission to Candidacy is made by the Vice Dean of the School of Coastal Environment. All students, including transfer students, must clear the English Proficiency Requirement, if applicable, before being admitted to Candidacy. Candidacy Applications are available in the Dean’s office.
The Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies requires:
- 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 CMSS 600 and CMSS 617 ;
- Admission to Candidacy;
- A minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B) on all course work;
- Completion, presentation, and successful defense of a thesis; or, completion of 36 hours of coursework including CMSS 600 and CMSS 617 ; and
- 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.
Students choosing the thesis option based on original research must assemble a thesis committee of at least three (3) members by the second semester of enrollment. The committee will consist of at least three (3) full-time CCU faculty members including the major professor who will chair the committee. An approved member from an outside institution may be included. The entire thesis committee will meet with the student semi-annually to assess progress and to give advice. Before graduation, students will submit the completed thesis to the CMWS coordinator who will schedule the public defense.
Students interested in future employment as professionals in the environmental field with federal, state, local agencies, not-for-profit organizations or private businesses may choose a non-thesis option. Completing a hands-on experiential component is strongly encouraged. Students who select a non-thesis option may complete an internship (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 CMWS coordinator 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 CMWS coordinator before beginning the internship. Although the faculty will provide guidance to students, 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.
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 2) 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 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 6 credit hour requirement in CMWS 700 or for the 6 credit hour requirement in CMWS 701.