Marine Affairs

M.A., M.M.A., Ph.D.


Faculty: Professor Thompson, chair; Assistant Professor Becker, director of graduate programs; Assistant Professors Bidwell, Moore, Frazier (joint with Gender and Women’s Studies), Trandafir (joint with Environmental and Natural Resource Economics); Associate Professors Macinko, Garcia-Quijano (joint with Anthropology); Professors Dalton, Pollnac, Nixon; George (joint with History), Mather (joint with History/Marine Archeology); Professors Emeriti Juda, Hennessey, and Knauss.


Ecosystem-based management of coastal/ocean areas, coastal zone management, marine transportation and port planning, fisheries law and management, international marine policy and law.

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Admission requirements: GRE and bachelor’s degree in related science or social science. For international students, minimum TOEFL scores on the iBT as follows: Reading, 20, Writing 22, Listening 17, and Speaking 17 (total of 213 CBT or 550 PBT). Full-time applicants are admitted for the fall semester only.

Program requirements: thesis or a major paper and MAF 482, 502, 577, 651; MAF 511 or appropriate oceanography substitute; EEC 514 or appropriate resource economics substitute; plus a minimum of 21 elective credits for a total of 45 credits. Students who elect to do a major paper (MAF 589) will also be required to pass a written comprehensive exam.

Master of Marine Affairs (M.M.A.)

Admission requirements: (1) Individuals with a prior graduate degree or five years of equivalent experience in marine areas, or (2) law students in good standing who have completed one year of full-time study at Roger Williams University School of Law, or (3) students who have successfully completed the comprehensive examinations in the oceanography doctoral program may apply through the Graduate School. For international students, minimum paper TOEFL scores on the iBT as follows: Reading 20, Writing 22, Listening 17, and Speaking 17 (total of 213 CBT or 550 PBT). GREs are not required for admission to this program.

Program requirements: nonthesis program; EEC 514; MAF 577, 589, 651, 511 or appropriate oceanography substitute; plus 15 elective credits for a total of 30 credits; written comprehensive examination. Roger Williams School of Law students may transfer in up to six credits from that curriculum to meet the requirements of the M.M.A. degree. Students in the oceanography doctoral program may count up to six credits of courses taken for that degree toward the M.M.A. degree.

Doctor of Philosophy

Admission requirements: the Ph.D. program is small and selective. Admission is based on academic merit, research capability, availability of faculty, and match of interests between applicant and faculty. Applicants must have completed work for the master’s degree in some related area. GRE, letters of recommendation, writing samples including master’s thesis or major research paper, statement of purpose, and interview are required.

The statement of purpose shall include a description of the intended research topic and the names of the professors most suited to direct the research. Consult the department web pages ( for current research interests of the faculty.

Program requirements: students must complete the following required courses or their equivalents (18 credits): MAF 482, 502, 511, 577, 651; EEC 514. Beyond the courses indicated above, Ph.D. candidates are required to complete a minimum of 48 additional credits, of which no more than 24 will be awarded for dissertation research. The course credits earned to meet this requirement will be selected by the student from among 500- and 600-level courses with the approval of the student’s Ph.D. committee. Students will have to demonstrate proficiency in research tools, foreign language(s), and/or statistics as appropriate for the proposed course of study and dissertation. Required capabilities will be determined by the Ph.D. committee.

Upon completion of course work, students will have to pass written and oral comprehensive examinations in major and minor fields of marine affairs. Each student is to write and successfully defend a dissertation of high quality.