Marine Affairs Ph.D. Program

Since 1969 the Department of Marine Affairs has offered masters level degree programs (M.A. and M.M.A.) and has attracted students from all over the United States and some 40 countries. As of September, 1998 the Department of Marine Affairs also has offered a program of study leading to the award of a Ph.D. degree. As is the case with the masters level graduate programs, the focus of the Ph.D. program is on coastal/ocean management, policy, and law and will concentrate on the following areas, which are not mutually exclusive:

  • Coastal management
  • Fisheries management
  • Marine ecosystem management
  • Maritime transportation and ports
  • National and international ocean policy
  • Marine human ecology

The Department of Marine Affairs is an interdisciplinary department, with a faculty educated in the fields of geography, political science, law, anthropology, environmental planning, and oceanography. It further draws upon the expertise of associated departments and programs such as the Departments of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, Natural Resource Sciences, Political Science, Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Veterinary Science and Community Planning as well as the Graduate School of Oceanography.

The Ph.D. program in Marine Affairs is designed to serve the needs of individuals who will be working in government, research institutes, consulting, and academia.

The University of Rhode Island

The University of Rhode Island has a wide breadth of graduate marine programs, making available a wide variety of courses in different disciplines which could become part of a student’s program of study. This is a substantial source of strength for students in Marine Affairs and provides for a number of unique educational opportunities.

Ph.D. Program Requirements

  1. Students must complete the following required courses or their equivalents (18 credits):
    • MAF 482 – Quantitative Methods in Marine Affairs
    • MAF 502 – Research Methods in Marine Affairs
    • MAF 511 – Marine Science and Ocean Uses
    • MAF 577 – International Ocean Law
    • MAF 651 – Marine Affairs Seminar
    • REN 514 – Economics of Marine Resources
  2. Students will complete a minimum of an additional 24 credits of course work. Courses will be selected by the student with the approval of the student’s Ph.D. committee from among relevant 500 and 600 level courses.
  3. Students will have to demonstrate proficiency in research tools such as computer science, foreign language(s), or in statistics as appropriate for the proposed course of study and dissertation. The required capabilities will be determined by the Ph.D. committee.
  4. Upon completion of course work students will have to pass written comprehensive and oral examinations in major and minor fields of marine affairs.
  5. Each student is to write and successfully defend a dissertation of high quality, representing original and meaningful research which makes a contribution to the literature in the field of marine affairs. Successful defense of the dissertation will result in the award of up to 24 credits.

Requirements for Admission to the Ph.D. Program

Applicants for the Ph.D. program are expected to have in hand a masters degree. Students applying to the Ph.D. program will be evaluated using the following considerations:

  • Past academic performance as demonstrated through academic transcripts
  • Graduate record examination scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Writing samples, including master’s thesis or major research paper, and articles
  • Statement of purpose
  • Personal interview

For the University of Rhode Island Catalog go to
For an application go to

Note:  Several assistantships are available for support of Ph.D. candidates during the anticipated two year period while students are completing course work.  Students who want to be considered for financial aid should submit completed applications by January 15.

Got questions?
Contact Prof. Austin Becker,
Department of Marine Affairs
Coastal Institute Building, 2nd Floor, Room 213
University of Rhode Island
Kingston, RI 02881
Phone: (401)874-2156