Marine Science  {SF State Bulletin 2011 - 2012}

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Marine Science

College of Science and Engineering

Dean: Sheldon Axler


Moss Landing Marine Laboratories

8272 Moss Landing Road
Moss Landing, CA 95039
Phone: 831-771-4400
Fax: 831-632-4403
Web Site:


Director: Kenneth Coale


The M.S. in Marine Science degree program is offered by SF State through the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.  In addition to this program, there are a number of other options for SF State students to obtain undergraduate or graduate degrees with a marine science focus. The SF State Biology and Geosciences departments offer both Bachelors and Masters degrees with marine emphases. Applicants should be aware that excellent training in marine sciences at both undergraduate and graduate levels is available at SF State’s marine research laboratory, the Romberg Tiburon Center (RTC, through the departments of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geosciences, and Geography.  Graduate students at RTC are enrolled in M.S. programs in those departments, but not in the Marine Sciences Program at Moss Landing Marine Labs, as described below.



M.S. in Marine Science



Program Scope

This degree program is administered by the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) in cooperation with seven consortium campuses that are affiliated with MLML, including San Francisco State University. This degree provides the opportunity for students to acquire a practical and theoretical education in the marine sciences to prepare them for careers as marine technicians, research scientists, and teachers. The program at MLML provides extensive field and laboratory work for advanced study in the marine sciences.


master of science in marine science

Admission to the Program

Students can choose Biology, Geosciences, or another appropriate department at San Francisco State University. The prospective student must meet the entrance requirements for that department and be accepted into conditionally classified graduate status. (Refer to the appropriate Bulletin section for the department of interest.) The student will become classified upon completion of MLML’s requirements. Completed graduate applications must be received at MLML by October 15 for the spring semester and March 15 for the fall semester. Different departments have different application deadlines, and prospective students must contact the selected campus department to insure that his/her application meets both the San Francisco State University deadline and the MLML deadline. All students must be registered through one of the seven consortium campuses to attend MLML.


Classes at MLML are open to properly qualified upper division undergraduate and graduate students enrolled through the consortium campuses. Application information is available from the admissions offices at the consortium campuses or from the Laboratories.


Fully Classified Status in the Program

A conditionally classified student may become fully classified in the marine science program as set forth in the following steps:

  • Obtain an adviser at MLML by the third semester and one from the appropriate science department at SF State. Each new student in the master's program at MLML will be assigned an adviser who may or may not be the final thesis adviser.
  • Make up any course work deficiencies in the SF State department and/or MLML. Students must take the following courses: MSCI 304 (MS 104), Quantitative Marine Science, and three of the following five prerequisite courses needed for fully classified graduate status:
    • MSCI 303 (MS 103) Marine Ecology
    • MSCI 341 (MS 141) Geological Oceanography
    • MSCI 342 (MS 142) Physical Oceanography
    • MSCI 343 (MS 143) Chemical Oceanography
    • MSCI 344 (MS 144) Biological Oceanography
  • Note that Moss Landing Marine Laboratories course catalog numbers are listed in parentheses (MS) following the SF State course catalog numbers, which are preceded by MSCI. A complete list of MSCI courses and their equivalent MS course numbers is provided at the end of this section.
  • These courses should be completed by the end of the third semester; they may be waived by the graduate committee upon certification that equivalent courses have been satisfactorily completed. MSCI 304 (MS 104) cannot be counted towards the 30 unit degree requirement.
  • Students who do not receive a grade of “B” or better in the courses described above taken at MLML, or who wish to substitute equivalent courses taken elsewhere, regardless of the grade(s) received, must petition to have the courses accepted or take an examination given by the faculty at MLML. The examination will substitute for any equivalent examination given by the SF State home department.



A student becomes eligible for the master's degree in marine science after the following requirements have been satisfied:

  1. The student has been advanced to candidacy.
  2. The student has satisfied MLML's requirements for the degree.
  3. The student has completed the following curriculum requirements:
    1. A minimum total of 15 required units of 200-level courses, including 2 units of MS 285 (MSCI 885), and 4 units of MS 299 (MSCI 897).
    2. Courses numbered 100 or above as approved by the thesis committee to total 30 units when added to graduate units. Following is a list of elective courses which may be used to satisfy requirements for the major.
  4. The student must have submitted a thesis approved by the thesis advisory committee. The thesis must conform to the rules set forth by the Division of Graduate Studies at SF State.
  5. The student must successfully give an oral thesis defense, to include an open seminar presentation of thesis material, and a defense before the thesis advisory committee.


Students may request information and application materials by calling the MLML at (831) 771-4400 or by e-mailing MLML at


Course List

Undergraduate Courses

SF State Course Number MLML Course Number
MSCI 303 MS 103
MSCI 304 MS 104
MSCI 305 MS 105
MSCI 312 MS 112
MSCI 313 MS 113
MSCI 324 MS 124
MSCI 325 MS 125
MSCI 331 MS 131
MSCI 335 MS 135
MSCI 341 MS 141
MSCI 342 MS 142
MSCI 343 MS 143
MSCI 344 MS 144
MSCI 375 MS 175
MSCI 699 MS 180


Graduate Courses

SF State Course Number MLML Course Number
MSCI 701 MS 201
MSCI 702 MS 202
MSCI 704 MS 204
MSCI 706 MS 206
MSCI 708 MS 208
MSCI 711 MS 211
MSCI 712 MS 212
MSCI 731 MS 231
MSCI 733 MS 233
MSCI 734 MS 234
MSCI 742 MS 242
MSCI 746 MS 246
MSCI 748 MS 248
MSCI 751 MS 251
MSCI 761 MS 261
MSCI 762 MS 262
MSCI 763 MS 263
MSCI 771 MS 271
MSCI 772 MS 272
MSCI 773 MS 273
MSCI 774 MS 274
MSCI 780 MS 280
MSCI 885 MS 285
MSCI 897 MS 298
MSCI 898 MS 299


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