Admission to DOCS

UPDATE: Due to COVID-19, DOCS has temporarily waived the GRE requirement for Spring 2022, Fall 2022 and deferred admissions.

Admission Requirements


All PhD and MS students are required to have successfully completed (grade of "C" or better) Calculus I and Calculus II. If an applicant has not completed these requirements by the time of enrollment in the Department of Oceanography & Coastal Sciences, they will be required to do so during their first year at LSU. However, it is advisable to have at least the first calculus course completed prior to enrollment. This requirement can be met by taking MATH 1550 (Analytical Geometry and Calculus I) and MATH 1552 (Analytical Geometry and Calculus II). For a course at another university to count as equivalent to LSU's MATH 1550, it should cover limits, differentiation, and integration, not only for algebraic functions, but also for exponential and trigonometric functions. Math 1554 (Calculus II for Life Sciences) may be substituted from Math 1552 with prior committee approval. For MS students, who have not completed Calculus II by the time of enrollment another quantitative focused course taken during their first year at LSU may be substituted for Calculus II with prior approval of their advisory committee (including but not limited to courses in math, statistics, modeling, computer sciences, etc.). A student may register for those courses on a pass-fail basis with approval of the student's major professor, department chair, instructor of the course involved, and the dean of the Graduate School. The instructor will determine actual quality of work required to obtain a grade of "P". Professional MS students (i.e. not thesis track) are exempt from the above requirements.

Additional prerequisites for DOCS core courses include biology, chemistry, geology, and physics: One semester introductory course in physics and one in geology, two chemistry courses equivalent to LSU CHEM 1201 and 1202, and two biology courses for science majors equivalent to LSU BIOL 1201 and 1202 with grades of "C" or better. Students not meeting all prerequisites may be admitted provisionally.

The following course substitutions are allowed if prerequisites are not completed prior to LSU enrollment. Students deficient in one prerequisite subject (biology, chemistry, geology, or physics) will be required to register and complete LSU OCS 1005 (Introduction to Oceanography). Students deficient in 2 or more subject areas will be required to register and complete LSU OCS 1005 and one of the following: LSU OCS 2007 (Introduction to Marine Sciences: Geological and Physical); or LSU OCS 2008 (Introduction to Marine Sciences: Life Processes); or LSU OCS 3103 (Global Environmental Cycles), all with grades of “C” or better or on pass-fail basis. Selection of OCS 2007, or OCS 2008, or OCS 3103 will be based upon the student’s major professor’s recommendation and approval of the DOCS Graduate Advisor.

GRE and Undergraduate GPA Requirements
Applicants must score at least 300 on the GRE general test (verbal plus quantitative scores) and a GRE writing score of 4.0 or greater. In addition, GRE scores should not be more than 5 years old. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a scale of 4.0 is required for admission.

In addition, all incoming students must meet LSU Graduate School admission requirements. Check the graduate bulletin at LSU Graduate School Website.


DOCS Graduate Program Pre-Application

All prospective MS and PhD students are required to fill out a DOCS graduate program pre-application. Use the online DOCS graduate program pre-application form to complete your pre-application. Alternatively, you can use the Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF form to complete your pre-application and email the completed form to with the email subject "DOCS pre-app." You will receive a quick reply and may be asked to submit a full application to the LSU Graduate School. 

If you would like to have your credentials pre-evaluated send your pre-application (MS Word version or PDF version) directly to Dr. Mark Benfield, DOCS Graduate Advisor, for review and assessment.  

If you need additional information, are having trouble with the pre-application, or have further questions, please contact us at or you can contact Dr. Benfield.


 Formal Application

Upon approval of your pre-application, you can apply formally to the LSU Graduate School which is described below.

Online application materials to the LSU Graduate School Admissions must include all of the following:

  • A completed online Application for Admission. Visit the site of the LSU Office of Graduate Admissions and apply online
  • A nonrefundable application fee which should be paid online
  • Transcripts from all accredited universities attended verifying and documenting graduation
  • GRE scores
  • TOEFL scores (for international students only), and
  • Three letters of recommendation which must be sent directly to the Graduate School mailing address as requested in the full application.
    To guarantee admission for the fall semester, application materials should be submitted prior to May 15. Applications for the spring semester should be complete by October 15.