Master's in Oceanography & Coastal Sciences

The Department of Oceanography & Coastal Studies offers both a Thesis and Professional Master's degree option.

We are always seeking highly motivated and qualified students for our Master's program. If you are interested in Oceanography or Wetland Sciences, we would love to hear from you.

Our non-thesis option is designed for individuals interested in non-research careers (positions in regulatory agencies, management groups) where breadth of coursework may be more valuable than research experience.

Financial assistance is available for qualified applicants. Scroll down for admissions and pre-application information.

Our Master's Degree programs

  • 24 semester hours of graduate level courses
    • Courses taken in three out of the four core areas
    • Six hours of thesis research
    • A minimum of 12 credit hours at the 7000 level
  • The completion and defense of a Master's thesis

Students looking to receive a professional Master's are admitted through the regular admission procedures of the LSU Graduate School and the Department's Academic Affairs Committee. You may attend full- or part-time., and you must maintain an at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average.


36 hours of coursework beyond a Bachelor's degree, all of which must be approved by the student's Advisory Committee, including:

  • Minimum of 18 hours in courses numbered at 7000 or above6 hours of departmental core courses or approved substitutions
  • 9 hours of advanced course work in one DOCS specialized area
  • 9 hours in a minor field outside of DOCS
  • At least 3 semester hours of advanced field or literature research based on internship or a team project (e.g. OCS 8900, OCS 8901), which demonstrates the student’s ability to synthesize data and demonstrates acceptable writing skills
  • 9 hours of electives (within or outside of department)
    A student must pass a final exam, both oral and written, to be given by the Student’s Advisory Committee.
  • During the last semester, professional students must deliver an oral presentation of a written research report from the internship or team project, one copy must be turned into the DOCS office prior to graduation.


Course Offerings

For a full list of the courses we offer each semester, please visit LSU’s course offerings page. From there, you can search by semester and department to see which courses will be available during a specific time.

For a general list of our available courses and their descriptions, visit the LSU General Catalog and search for “oceanography” or “OCS.”


All applicants should have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and meet all LSU Graduate School Admissions requirements.


All MS students are required to have successfully completed  Calculus I and Calculus II with a grade of C or better. If you have not completed them by time of enrollment, you will be required to do so during your first year. 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.

Two semesters of introductory biology for sciences majors courses, equivalent to LSU BIOL 1201 and 1202, completed with a C or better.

Two chemistry courses equivalent to LSU CHEM 1201 and 1202, with a C or better.

One semester introductory course, with a C or better.

One semester introductory course, with a C or better.


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.


DOCS Pre-Application

All prospective MS students are required to fill out a DOCS graduate program pre-application, using the online, Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF forms located to the right. If you use the Word or PDF form to complete your pre-application, 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