May 20, 2024  
2023 - 2024 Undergraduate Catalog 
2023 - 2024 Undergraduate Catalog

School of Marine Science/Virginia Institute of Marine Science

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School of Marine Science students participate in graduate studies at an active, year round research facility with approximately 450 scientists, support technicians and staff. The 35-acre main campus of the School of Marine Science/Virginia Institute of Marine Science (SMS/VIMS) is located in Gloucester Point at the mouth of the York River, a major tributary and natural passageway to the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. Various service centers and special programs complement and enhance the student’s experience.

Graduate Study Programs

Research at SMS/VIMS emphasizes the study of marine environments from estuaries to the open ocean, with special emphasis on coastal systems. Interdisciplinary programs are encouraged. In addition to teaching and conducting basic research, many faculty members are engaged in applied research of concern to industry and management agencies. Students often find that their assistantship duties and/or research activities offer opportunities that bring them in close contact with other departments at SMS and William & Mary, marine related industries, and state, regional, and federal management agencies.

Based on the primary academic and research disciplines represented at SMS/VIMS, graduate studies are offered in four major areas.

Undergraduate Opportunities

The undergraduate minor in Marine Science, which is jointly offered and administered by the School of Marine Science (SMS)/Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (VIMS) and Arts & Sciences, provides interested students a coherent experience in this interdisciplinary field. For additional information, as well as the requirements for this minor, please refer to the Marine Science Minor  section of this catalog. Though the courses offered by the School are primarily for graduate students, advanced undergraduates (juniors and seniors) may participate. For instance, Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and Physics majors may enroll in suitable 500-549 lower-level courses with the permission of the instructor. Undergraduates majoring in Chemistry, Geology, Physics, or Biology may work on a marine problem in his or her field of specialization. Consent of the chair of the student’s major department is required to take problems courses in marine science.

As in most marine institutions, field research activities are accelerated in the summer. An opportunity exists, for example, for qualified rising junior and seniors to experience the intellectual stimulations and challenges of marine research through the School’s Research and Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program, which runs from June through early August. During that period, interns live in a William & Mary residence hall and conduct research at the Gloucester Point campus. Information on applying for the REU program or other summer opportunities at SMS/VIMS is available at the following web address:

Preparatory Studies

Students who are interested in pursuing marine science as a profession should consult with their academic advisor or the Associate Dean of Academic Studies, School of Marine Science, early in their college careers to identify an academic program that will prepare them for graduate study in marine science. Students interested in Biological Sciences, Aquatic Health Sciences, or Fisheries Science should have a strong background in basic science, including a suite of contemporary biology courses, physics and chemistry (through organic), and mathematics through calculus and differential equations. The prospective Chemical, Geological or Physical Oceanography student should have an undergraduate degree with appropriate course work in chemistry, geology or related geophysical science, physics, meteorology, mathematics or engineering, and a solid quantitative background. Course work in statistics and competence with computers are particularly important.

Graduate Program Information

For graduate admission, review information for prospective students. Degree requirements and a full description of courses in marine science, review the electronic catalog at .

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