May 25, 2020  
2018 - 2019 Graduate Catalog 
2018 - 2019 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Marine, Environmental and Public Policy

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The Virginia Institute of Marine Science and School of Marine Science recognize the critical need to improve communication between marine scientists and resource managers, policy makers, and the public. Students enrolled in the M.S. and Ph.D. programs in the School of Marine Science who want to advance their education in the areas of marine, environmental and public policy can elect one of the following options:

Marine Science and Public Policy Program, M.S./M.P.P. or Ph.D./M.P.P.

A combined Marine Science and Public Policy program is available in which the student may obtain an M.S. or Ph.D. in Marine Science and an M.P.P. degree. The degrees may be completed in a reduced amount of time compared to pursuing the degrees independently. 

Typically, during the first year a student will register for Marine Science courses and develop a research prospectus for the Marine Science degree; the second year will be focused on Public Policy coursework and the policy internship experience; in the third year the student will complete any outstanding coursework and will have a substantial focus on research for the M.S. or Ph.D; any subsequent time in the program will be used to complete the research for the Marine Science degree.

Applicants interested in the concurrent degree programs must apply to and gain acceptance by both the School of Marine Science and the Public Policy Program offered through William & Mary Arts & Sciences. Consult the School of Marine Science Graduate Catalog for a description of the M.S. and Ph.D. degree requirements . The Marine Science degree credit requirements for the M.S. and Ph.D. are reduced by nine credits for students who are also completing the concurrent M.P.P. Consult the Arts & Sciences Graduate Catalog for a description of the Public Policy (M.S./M.P.P.  and Ph.D./M.P.P. ) degree requirements.

Sub-concentration in Marine Policy

The sub-concentration, offered in collaboration with William & Mary's Public Policy Program and Law School, exposes students to the tools and ideas that shape contemporary dialogue of coastal and marine policy. Through required coursework, students will first develop an understanding of policy structures and processes before exploring constructs, models, and methods commonly used to discuss and analyze coastal and marine policy.  Completion of the sub-concentration also requires observation and reflection on coastal and marine public policy in practice.  Students who complete the sub-concentration will receive a notation of "Sub-concentration in Marine Policy" on their transcript.  In addition to the course work required for the M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in Marine Science, requirements for the sub-concentration are as follow


Students will select courses from thematic areas (one area must be public policy). In addition, a "capstone" course will provide the opportunity to observe and reflect on marine public policy in practice. Students must accrue at least 10 credit hours in total.

Pre-requisites for Public Policy courses (except MSCI 689  and PUBP 627 )
Required - One Public Policy course selected from:
Required - Two additional courses from one or more of the following thematic areas:



Public Policy

  • MSCI 689 , PUBP 601 PUBP 612 , and PUBP 627  may be used within the Public Policy thematic area if not already used to fulfill the policy course requirement above.

Resource Management

Other Courses

  • OEAS 690 Topics in Marine Environmental Policy (offered by Old Dominion University through a cooperative agreement)

As additional courses become available at William & Mary, including the School of Marine Science, or through an existing agreement with Old Dominion University or other future agreements with other universities, students may petition the School of Marine Science Associate Dean of Academic Studies to have a course included to fulfill the thematic area requirement. Courses from other thematic areas might include social sciences (e.g., anthropology, sociology), education, maritime or marine-related business or other disciplines.

Notes: (1) Instructor or School permission may be required to enroll in courses that do not have the MSCI prefix.  Procedures for cross-school registration are available from the School of Marine Science Registrar;  (2) Seminar courses offered by the William & Mary Law School may be more appropriate than lecture courses for Marine Science students; (3) Courses with the prefix LAW and PUBP are taught on the Williamsburg campus as are MSCI 687, 689, 693, 694, 695.

Required - At least one credit of reflective practice
Taken as the last course in the marine policy sub-concentration sequence, selected from:

Students will explore the science-policy interface in a weekly seminar-style course and through 3-day field trips to Virginia's state capitol in Richmond (state-level) or Washington D.C. (federal-level), in alternative years.  The course is designed to increase student knowledge of state or federal government structure, particularly the coastal, marine, and environmental resource management agencies, but also the General Assembly or Congress; awareness of the nature of the science-policy interface at the state or federal level, including challenges, opportunities, science communication; awareness of the critical professional skills and competencies needed for careers at the science-policy interface, including opportunities to practice professional networking skills and identify one's strengths and limitations.

Supervised by a faculty member, students may self-identify opportunities to observe the coastal or marine public policy process in practice (e.g., public meetings of government commissions, agencies, or other decision-making bodies, at the local, regional, state, national or international level; policy shadowing experiences; internship; etc), and draft a 2-5 page synthesis paper, reflecting upon their observations of the policy process, integrating concepts from their prior course work, and discussing how the policy experience may relate to their science and research.

Additional Opportunities

Any of the above policy-related courses with an MSCI prefix are available to any Marine Science student and may be taken to fulfill degree requirements with the agreement of the student's advisor and committee members. In addition, the School of Marine Science Office of Academic Studies at VIMS periodically sponsors policy-oriented professional development opportunities in Washington D.C. and on campus in Gloucester Point. Information on special programs is distributed to all School of Marine Science students through a weekly Academic Digest.