Ocean, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences
Master of Science
Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Science - Ocean and Earth Sciences
Applicants who have obtained a bachelor's degree in a science (e.g., biology, chemistry, geology, physics), mathematics, or engineering, with a minimum 3.00 grade point average in their major and a 2.80 overall grade point average, are eligible for regular admission to the program. At least one semester of calculus is also required. Ocean and earth sciences are interdisciplinary; consequently, it is expected that applicants have science courses outside their major.
For students wishing to study geological sciences, an undergraduate major in geology is required for regular admission. Students wishing to study physical oceanography should have majored in physics, mathematics, engineering, computer science, meteorology or related physical sciences. Such applicants must have completed 36 hours in one of these fields and completed mathematics through partial differential equations.
An applicant who does not meet all requirements for admission as a regular graduate student may be admitted as a provisional graduate student. Students lacking adequate preparation for the program may make up deficiencies by taking appropriate undergraduate courses.
For more information on the admission process, please click on the appropriate link:
The student shall meet all university requirements for graduate degrees outlined in the Requirements for Graduate Degree section in this catalog. This includes at least 30 hours of graduate study. A maximum of 12 hours of credit may be transferred into a graduate degree program from non-degree status at Old Dominion University or from another accredited institution, except in the case of an approved interinstitutional program. All students are expected to demonstrate competency in oral communication and proficiency in writing.
A minimum of 12 hours of basic course work in the four sub-disciplines of oceanography is required of all M.S. students. This core program consists of Introduction to Physical Oceanography (OEAS 604), Advanced Chemical Oceanography (OEAS 610), Advanced Geological Sciences (OEAS 620), and Advanced Biological Oceanography (OEAS 640). A student must achieve a grade of B or better in each of the core courses. The remaining 18 credits are chosen from a list of graduate coursesapproved by the student's guidance committee. At least 60 percent of all courses must be at the 600 level or above. For the non-thesis option, up to three hours of research may be used to meet course requirements. For the thesis option, up to six hours of research may be used to meet the course requirements.
A student in the non-thesis program must pass a written comprehensive examination testing breadth of knowledge in oceanography. The examination is given twice yearly, normally in October and March. The examination grades are fail, pass, or pass with distinction. A student who has failed the examination may retake it only once.
Before a student embarks on thesis research, a thesis advisory committee must be formed. Further information on university guidelines for forming this committee can be found in the Requirements for Graduate Degrees section of this catalog. The student must also submit a thesis proposal which outlines the research to be undertaken and identifies the resources required for completion of the research. Guidelines for the preparation of the thesis proposal are available from the graduate program director. Any student whose thesis research requires departmental funding must obtain prior approval from the department chair and graduate program director. No funds will be given without this approval. The thesis proposal requires the approval of the graduate program director and the student's thesis advisory committee.
As part of the thesis requirement, the student is required to present a public defense of the research. The public defense and approval of the thesis by the student's Thesis Committee satisfies the comprehensive examination requirement. Students in the thesis program should consult the graduate program director regarding the preparation of the M.S. thesis, scheduling a thesis defense, and the final submission of the thesis.
Time Requirement and Field Work
Each student is required to have at least ten days of shipboard experience, fieldwork, or a combination of the two. Scheduled class field trips may not be counted toward this requirement.
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Doctor of Philosophy - Oceanography
The doctoral degree in oceanography is granted to students who have (1) mastered definite fields of knowledge, become familiar with research in these specific fields, and developed perceptions of opportunities for further advances; (2) demonstrated the capacity to do original, independent, scholarly investigation or creative work in their specific fields; and (3) shown the ability to integrate the field of specialization with the larger domains of knowledge and understanding. All students are expected to demonstrate competency in oral communication and proficiency in writing.
All students in the oceanography Ph.D. program are responsible for reading and understanding the regulations and policies set forth here and throughout the ODU Catalog regarding requirements for the Ph.D. degree. The essential credit requirements for the Ph.D. are as follows. The student shall complete 48 credit hours beyond the master's degree or 78 credit hours for students admitted to the program with a bachelor's degree. Up to 24 credits can be granted for dissertation.
Major Advisor and Guidance Committee
The departmental Admissions Committee will identify a student's major advisor, at least provisionally, prior to admission to the program. After receiving admission to the program and enrolling, students consult with the GPD and their major advisor about initial course work. Before completion of nine semester hours (i.e., before the end of the student's first semester), the student will form a guidance committee in consultation with the major advisor. Please see the graduate program director and the Requirements for Graduate Degrees section of the ODU Catalog for further information on forming a guidance committee.
Plan of Study-Curriculum Plan
Sometime in the first year of study, the student shall prepare a plan of study with the aid and approval of the guidance committee. Students should see the graduate program director and refer to the Requirements for Graduate Degrees section of ODU Catalog for further information on preparing a plan of study.
Course Work Requirements
Students who do not have an M.S. degree in oceanography normally complete the 12 hours of core courses (Introduction to Physical Oceanography (OEAS 604), Advanced Chemical Oceanography (OEAS 610), Advanced Geological Sciences (OEAS 620), and Advanced Biological Oceanography (OEAS 640)) within the first year. However, waiving the requirement to take any of these core courses requires the approval of the graduate program director. Students must achieve a grade of B or better in each of the core courses. Any student receiving a C (2.0) or lower in any graduate course will be dropped from the program. In consultation with the advisor and guidance committee, students will plan a complete program of course work designed to meet their objectives (see the section above). Depending on the entry status of the student, the following credit hours are also required:
Those entering the Ph.D. program with an M.S. degree in oceanography must complete any needed core courses (see above), 48 credit hours of lecture courses dissertation research.
Those entering the Ph.D. program with a B.S. or M.S. degree in a discipline outside of oceanography shall complete 12 credit hours of the core courses (see above), and a minimum of 66 hours of additional lecture courses and dissertation research, for a total of 78 credit hours.
A maximum of 12 graduate credit hours may be transferred into a graduate degree program from non-degree status at Old Dominion University or from another accredited institution, except in the case of an approved interinstitutional program.
The guidance committee shall administer a written and oral diagnostic examination during the first semester of residence (or before nine credit hour have been completed) for students entering the program with an M.S. degree in oceanography. For students matriculating with a bachelor's degree or an M.S. degree in another field, the guidance committee shall administer the diagnostic examination no later than the third semester of residence (or before completion of 27 credit hours). The diagnostic examination will be prepared by the student's guidance committee in consultation with the graduate program director. The results of this examination are used as guidance for the curriculum plan. The guidance committee may also recommend to the graduate program director, based on the student's performance in the four oceanography core courses, that the diagnostic examination be waived. This must be done in writing, in a memo signed by all members of the student's guidance committee.
Computer Language Skills
To satisfy this requirement the student must either take a course in MATLAB programming (OEAS 595) or solve a substantial problem by writing an original computer program. The student's advisor in consultation with the guidance committee develops the problem and a reasonable timetable for its completion. The problem must be solved independently with no help from others. The results will be evaluated by the advisor and guidance committee who will determine whether the student has solved the posed problem to their satisfaction. This computer language skills requirement should be completed before taking the candidacy exam.
Ship Time and Field Work Requirement
Each student is required to have at least ten days of shipboard experience, field work, or a combination of the two. Scheduled class field trips may not be counted toward this requirement.
More information for each individual discipline can be found at: