Masters in Biological Oceanography

Master of Science
Main Campus - Melbourne
Major Code: 8081 Degree Awarded: Master of Science
Age Restriction:  N Admission Status: graduate
Delivery Mode/s: classroom only Location/s: main campus
Admission Materials: 3 letters of recommendation, résumé, objectives, GRE

Program Chair
John G. Windsor Jr., Ph.D.

The master of science degree can be earned in one of five options: biological, chemical, geological or physical oceanography, or coastal zone management. The successful student is well prepared for a challenging professional career or for continuing with graduate studies.

Admission Requirements

General admission requirements and the process for applying are presented in the Academic Overview section.

Students may be admitted during any semester, but for optimal scheduling, the fall term is recommended. Students with deficiencies in their undergraduate preparation (up to 12 credit hours) may take deficiencies and courses for graduate credit concurrently. GRE General Test scores and a statement of objectives are required and should be sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions. Although not required for admission, an on-campus interview is highly recommended.

The applicant should have an undergraduate major in one of the physical or life sciences with a background that includes computer science, mathematics through calculus and at least one year each of college biology, chemistry and physics. The biological background should include invertebrate zoology.

Degree Requirements

The Master of Science in Oceanography - Biological Oceanography is conferred on students who have successfully completed a minimum of 30 credit hours (including thesis) of required and elective coursework. The nonthesis track requires a minimum of 33 credit hours and a final program examination.


To earn the master of science degree, the student must complete the following courses or their equivalents. Equivalent coursework can be substituted for required courses as recommended by the student's advisor and program chair. Representative electives for each option are available from advisers. At least six credit hours of thesis or internship is required, and an additional three credit hours can be granted in place of the three credit hours of elective, subject to approval by the program chair. Thesis or internship registration must be continuous from the initial registration until graduation.

  • OCN 5101 Principles of Biological Oceanography
    Credit Hours: 3
    Includes biological aspects of the marine environment, physicochemical parameters and interrelationships between organisms and these parameters. Also discusses pollution and productivity.
  • OCN 5210 Marine and Environmental Chemistry
    Credit Hours: 3
    The chemical composition and important reactions along the global water cycle including rain, soil and groundwater, rivers, lakes, estuaries and seawater. Includes weathering, redox processes, carbonate equilibria and nutrients, and lab exercises.
  • OCN 5301 Principles of Geological Oceanography
    Credit Hours: 3
    Introduces the origin and evolution of the ocean basins. Reviews general biological, chemical and physical processes of the coastal and open ocean, emphasizing how they contribute to marine sedimentation and stratigraphy. Includes field trips.
  • OCN 5401 Principles of Physical Oceanography
    Credit Hours: 3
    Introduces physical oceanography including the properties of seawater, basic concepts of fluid dynamics, heat budget, atmospheric circulation, structure and circulation of the ocean, and tidal and wave motion.
  • OCN 5990 Oceanography Seminar
    (each semester)
    Credit Hours: 0
    Presents research and review of areas of interest by staff, students and invited speakers in the field of oceanography.
  • Elective Credit Hours: 3
  • Option Requirements Credit Hours: 15
Total Credits Required: 30
Option Courses (15 credit hours)
  • OCN 5709 Numerical Analysis of Biological Data
    Credit Hours: 3
    Application of statistical methods and computer programs to biological studies. Also includes experimental designs appropriate for statistical applications.
  • Thesis Credit Hours: 6
Two of the following three courses:
  • OCN 5102 Marine Phytoplankton
    Credit Hours: 3
    Includes detailed studies of phytoplankton, and physical and chemical factors that affect plankton production and distribution; sampling, culturing methods and laboratory familiarization of organisms; and field trips.
  • OCN 5103 Marine Zooplankton
    Credit Hours: 3
    Detailed studies of zooplankton and relations to selected aspects of biological oceanography; study of phytoplankton-zooplankton relationships and sampling methods; lab familiarization of organisms; and field trips.
  • OCN 5104 Marine Benthos
    Credit Hours: 3
    Analyzes the environments, populations and communities of the deep sea and estuaries. Includes sampling methods and lab familiarization of faunal components; and field trips.
    Instructor approval or prerequisite course