Biological Sciences: Marine Biology (M.S.)

Biological Sciences: Marine Biology (M.S.)

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Why get a master’s degree in marine biology?

Marine biologists seek to understand and protect marine and estuarine ecosystems and the organisms that inhabit them. A graduate degree in marine biology prepares you for a successful career in science, technology, education and public service.

Why choose UNH for your degree?

The combination of our location, faculty and laboratories makes UNH one of the best institutions from which to obtain a graduate degree in marine biology. Our faculty have expertise ranging from molecular biology to ecology and fisheries, and their research programs often span disciplines and use a variety of methods and technologies to address marine-related questions and issues. The main UNH campus in Durham is located about 5 miles from the Great Bay Estuary, home of the UNH Jackson Estuarine Laboratory, and 30 miles from the coastline and the UNH Coastal Marine Laboratory. Each of these laboratories supports a number of research vessels used by faculty, staff and students. Students can become certified research divers through our strong dive program. Finally, there are several state-of-the-art research resources on campus, including a DNA sequencing facility, an aquaculture laboratory, and various microscope and instrumentation centers.

Potential career areas

  • Aquaculture
  • Aquarium industry
  • Education (K-12, college, university)
  • Environmental consulting
  • Environmental protection and resource management
  • Fisheries management and research
  • Habitat restoration
  • Marine/environmental outreach
  • Marine policy
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Research
  • Research diving

Contact

University of New Hampshire
Spaulding Hall
38 Academic Way
Durham, NH 03824

Curriculum & Requirements

The Marine Biology (MB) option is intended for students interested in marine, coastal, and estuarine ecosystems, and the organisms that inhabit them, at all levels of inquiry. Some UNH faculty use marine organisms as model systems for molecular phylogeny, cellular metabolism, and neurobiology, while others study the structure and function of marine ecosystems. Some faculty members focus primarily on basic research; others work in applied areas such as aquaculture and fisheries; many combine the two. Students who have earned advanced degrees at UNH lead agencies involved in managing valuable marine resources, teach marine biology in academic and public settings, own aquaculture companies, or earn a living as researchers. In addition to on­-campus facilities, UNH owns the Coastal Marine Laboratory (https://marine.unh.edu/facility/judd-gregg-marine-research-complex) and the Jackson Estuarine Laboratory (https://marine.unh.edu/facility/jackson-estuarine-laboratory), and a range of research vessels. UNH has an excellent SCUBA diving program for students interested in becoming certified to dive as part of their research. The Marine Biology option is also affiliated with UNH’s School of Marine Sciences and Ocean Engineering (https://marine.unh.edu).

M.S. Degree Requirements

Students plan a program of study in conjunction with their advisor and Master’s Thesis Committee, including the required core courses and competencies. Completion of at least 30 credits, including research credits, is required. A thesis proposal is developed within the first year. Students complete thesis research for 6 to 10 credits; the degree is completed when results are acceptable, a formal thesis presentation and defense has occurred, and the thesis is approved by the Master’s Thesis Committee and accepted by the Graduate School.

A common set of policies and guidelines applies to both Biological Sciences degree options (IOB and MB). Additional option­ specific course recommendations or requirements may be established by the faculty within each option.

Number of Credits Required

The M.S. degree requires completion of a minimum of 30 credits, 6-­10 of which may be earned for thesis research (BIOL 899 Master's Thesis ). The Biological Sciences Program specifies 2 credits’ worth of required coursework (BIOL 901 Introductory Graduate Seminar); most students use 6 more credits to satisfy the competency requirement in experimental design/analysis (BIOL 811 Experimental Design & Analysis or BIOL 933 , 4 credits) and recommended coursework in writing/communication (BIOL 902 Writing and Publishing Science or BIOL 950 Scientific Communication, 2 credits). Other graduate coursework approved by the student’s committee can substitute for any of these courses except BIOL 901 Introductory Graduate Seminar.

Up to 8 credits of graduate credit from another institution may be transferred, provided the credits were not counted toward another degree, and the course grade was a B or higher. Petitions requesting transfer credit must be supported by the advisor and graduate committee, and approved by the UNH Graduate School.

Required Courses, Competencies, and Electives

All students in the Biological Sciences Graduate Program are required to take Introductory Graduate Seminar (Introductory Graduate Seminar (BIOL 901) and fulfill all applicable competency requirements (these may vary by option). Those with teaching assistantships (TAs) must enroll in College Teaching (College Teaching (LSA 900) before or concurrent with their first teaching assignment.

  1. Core Course. Introductory Graduate Seminar (Introductory Graduate Seminar (BIOL 901). This first-­semester course focuses on key information and skills for a successful transition into the graduate program, familiarizing students with program requirements and faculty and providing an opportunity to meet others in their cohort.
  2. Competency in experimental design and analysis. This may be fulfilled by previous graduate coursework (as determined by the student’s advisor and committee), or by taking one graduate-level course. Two advanced courses in experimental design and analysis are offered, normally in alternate years. The first is Applied Biostatistics II (Experimental Design & Analysis (BIOL 811), and the second is Design, Analysis and Interpretation of Experiments ( (BIOL 933). Either course, or an equivalent approved by the student’s advisor and committee (e.g. Analysis of Ecological Communities and Complex Data (NR 909), can be used to fulfill this competency requirement.
  3. Electives. Students will work with their advisor and committee to identify additional courses appropriate for their area of specialization and their career objectives. Recommendations often include coursework in professional writing and communication: Scientific Writing (Writing and Publishing Science (BIOL 902) is taught fall semester, and open to students at any stage of the program. Scientific Communication (Scientific Communication (BIOL 950) is usually taught in spring. A course in Grant Writing (Grant Writing (NR 905) is offered by the Department of Natural Resources.

Additional Information/Requirements

All students in the Biological Sciences Program are expected to present their research in public seminars (including the UNH Graduate Research Conference), and acquire teaching and/or mentoring experience.

A summary of M.S. and Ph.D. degree requirements is available at https://colsa.unh.edu/biological-sciences/program/ms/biological-sciences-marine-biology, along with the program’s graduate handbook, which includes expectations, guidelines, and detailed policies.

Deadlines

Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: January 15 (priority*); August 1 (final) *Applications completed by Jan. 15 will be given priority consideration for admission and financial support. Applications completed after Jan. 15 will be considered based on openings and funding.
  • Spring: N/A
  • Summer: N/A
  • Special: N/A

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: VT

Accelerated Masters Eligible: No

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.

Transcripts

If you attended UNH after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester and UNH Non-Degree work. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must request one official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. International transcripts must be translated into English. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to grad.school@unh.edu. Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

Test Scores: GRE Required

GRE required. Request official test scores to be sent directly to the Graduate School by the testing service. Test scores more than five years old are not acceptable. Student copies and photo copies of scores are not considered official. Our CEEB code is 3918.

For general information about test scores required for admission into our programs please visit our Test Scores webpage.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding:

  1. Reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives,
  2. Your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program specific application questions.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply early if they wish to be considered for financial and priority consideration.

International Applicants

The University of New Hampshire recommends that international applicants who are living outside of the United States, and are planning on pursuing a research based degree, submit a preapplication form before submitting a full application. Your preapplication request will be carefully reviewed and a decision usually provided within 3 weeks. If your preapplication is approved then it is recommended you then submit a full application. If you are currently living in the United States (on a H1B visa, etc.), or you plan on pursuing a professional master’s degree, then you do not need to submit a preapplication.

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

Explore Program Details

M.S. THESIS TRACK in BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES (all options)

Requirement Timing Notes
  Year One  
Meet with advisor at or before start of 1st semester Initial curriculum and research planning
BIOL 901 (Intro Grad Seminar) at or before start of 1st semester Core requirement
BIOL 903 (Grad Research Techniques – option-specific) first spring semester May be required in some options: consult advisor or option rep.
BIOL 811 or 933 or other graduate course approved by advisor & committee 1st year Experimental design/analysis competency; prior graduate coursework may fulfill
Preliminary research proposal end of 1st semester Usually as part of BIOL 901
MS Thesis committee formed by end of 1st semester Submit form to Graduate School
MS thesis proposal by end of 2nd semester Submit to advisor & committee
Annual progress review by GPCC spring semester Student and advisor reports submitted in advance; GPCC provides feedback
First committee meeting spring semester Present & get feedback on research proposal and summer research plans
Seminar presentation spring semester Coordinate with committee meeting if possible
Teaching/mentoring experience (may be either year) As defined by committee
  Second Year  
Formal committee meeting once per semester  
Presentation in UNH Graduate Research Conference or other public seminar on campus spring semester Presentation of thesis research at a professional meeting may substitute
Thesis defense: public seminar, oral exam by committee   Replaces annual review by GPCC in final year
File intent to graduate form by Graduate School deadline: https://www.gradschool.unh.edu/dates.php Submit form to Graduate School
Submit thesis by Graduate School deadline Electronic submission to Graduate School
Total credits required at completion Minimum 30 credits, including a thesis of 6-10 credits (BIOL 899)
  Possible Additional Year(s)  
Formal committee meeting once per semester  
Presentation in UNH Graduate Research Conference or other public seminar on campus one per year Fulfilled by thesis defense in final year
Annual progress review by GPCC spring semester (not required in final year) Student and advisor reports submitted in advance; GPCC provides feedback
File intent to graduate form, submit thesis to Graduate School by Graduate School deadlines  

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