Student and Applicant Resources

  • besuccessful

    Many students who enter the field of marine affairs have a passion for some coastal or marine use. People want to preserve the use of the ocean for themselves and others and continue to practice the activities they love, but sometimes these are threatened. Marine affairs is also a good fit for environmentally conscious students who would like to specialize in one specific subject area. Because URI’s program is in Rhode Island, many marine affairs topics are New England-based; however, there are many opportunities to learn about marine issues at the international and national levels, including the Caribbean. The field of marine affairs combines science and policy so students gain an understanding of the scientific necessities and knowledge behind many coastal public policies, and learn what policies are created and why. Students can then apply that knowledge to policy-making based on sound science going forward.

    Students who are interested in coastal and ocean management can either pursue a degree in marine affairs as a career or take marine affairs courses and then apply that knowledge to other related careers in fields such as education, political science, environmental sciences, and others. The ability to make connections between subjects is also critical because marine affairs involves problem solving and fitting details into a coherent larger picture. Problems range across a spectrum of experiences and settings, including oil spills, fisheries management, marine protected areas, coastal hazards, tourism, coastal and marine spatial planning, and climate change.

    Success in marine affairs, as in any other field, is largely determined by the student’s willingness to put effort into his or her own education. Other factors are also important. A love of the coast and ocean is certainly a common characteristic that motivates many of our students. Yet, because so many people feel so strongly about how our coastal areas and oceans should be managed, marine affairs students need to be willing to learn the necessary natural science to understand the environmental issues while also learning about the cultural, economic, aesthetic, legal, and political dimensions of coastal problems. Only by working hard to develop an interdisciplinary understanding can a student or manager develop acceptable management options.

  • The job market ranges from work with non-governmental organizations (such as the Audubon Society or The Nature Conservancy), to positions with local or state governments, to careers available with federal government agencies (such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the National Park Service), to jobs with international organizations like the World Wildlife Fund. The highest paid positions are usually in the private sector with consulting firms that do environmental impact statements and wildlife assessment work. The best opportunities are available to those with a master’s degree or above.

    According to the National Science Foundation, “Earning a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering (S&E) appears to serve the recipient well in the workforce, regardless of the job they do. In fact, according to a National Science Foundation (NSF) survey, people who have earned an S&E bachelor’s degree generally report that science and engineering knowledge is important to their job.”

    Click here for employment paths for MAF grads.

  • MAF courses calendar

    All forms may be found here:

    Typical time2-3 semesters2-3 semesters4 semesters6-10 semesters
    Core Courses**MAF 511, MAF 577, MAF 651, EEC/REN 514MAF 511, MAF 577, MAF 651, EEC/REN 514MAF 482, MAF 502, MAF 511, MAF 577, MAF 651,EEC/REN 514MAF 482, MAF 502, MAF 511, MAF 577, MAF 651, EEC/REN 514
    Core courses credits12121818
    Elective course credits***15 921 to 28at least 24*
    major paper (MAF 589), thesis credits, or research credits3 (MAF 589)3 (MAF 589)6 (MAF 599)24 (MAF 699)
    Notes 6 taken at RWUNon-thesis MAMA also take MAF 589*(up to 30 may transfer from masters, 6 additional with petition)
    Total Required Credits30304572
    Major advisor selectedTypically end of 1st semesterTypically end of 1st semesterTypically beginning of 2nd semesterTypically beginning of 2nd semester
    Big Picture MeetingN/AN/AN/ADuring 3rd Semester
    Committee establishedN/AN/A With or before program of study and/or proposal approval With or before program of study and/or proposal approval
    Committee makeupN/AN/A2 MAF, 1 outside, 1 chair (outside)2 MAF, 1 Outside, (Orals +1 MAF +1 Outside)
    Qualifying Exam (PhD only)N/AN/AN/AAfter MAF 511, MAF 577, MAF 651, EEC/REN 514
    Credit transfersN/AN/AN/Awith Program of Study below
    Program of StudyEnd of 1st SemesterEnd of 3rd semesterEnd of 3rd semesterEnd of 3rd semester
    Comp ExamNear end of all core MAF coursesNear end of all core MAF coursesNear end of all core MAF courses (only if non-thesis)Within 12 months of completing core courses
    Proposal approval by committeeEnd of 1st semester (major paper proposal)End of 1st semester (major paper proposal)Before submission to grad school, typically end of 2nd semesterBefore submission to grad school, typically end of 4th semester
    IRB ApprovalDepends on topic/methodsDepends on topic/methodsAfter proposal approved by committee and >6 months before graduating (if necessary)After proposal approved by committee and >6 months before graduating (if necessary)
    Proposal Approval by grad schoolN/AN/AAt least 1 semester before graduationBefore end of 7th semester
    Nomination for graduationbeginning of final semesterbeginning of final semesterbeginning of final semesterbeginning of final semester
    DefenseN/AN/A~1 month before graduation~1 month before graduation
    Final Thesis/DissertationN/AN/A~2 weeks before graduation~2 weeks before graduation


    • 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

    *** For more details on course credits:


  • Established in 1969, the Graduate Program in Marine Affairs offers a PhD, a Master of Arts in Marine Affairs (MAMA), a Master of Marine Affairs (MMA) and a Joint Juris Doctorate Program with Roger Williams University (JD/MMA). The mission of the Department of Marine Affairs is to provide leadership in the management of marine and coastal environments through distinction in teaching, research, and outreach programs. As a department, our programs focus on governance issues for both coastal and oceanic systems. Curriculum options utilize the wide variety of scientific and environmental expertise found across the University and within our department’s college- the College of the Environment and Life Sciences (CELS). Within CELS, emphasis is placed on multidisciplinary education, which enables our students to grasp the implications, needs, and potential applications of ecosystem-based governance systems.
    In the Marine Affairs Programs, policy problems are examined at the local, state, regional, national, and international levels. Subjects studied have included management of living and non-living resources in the exclusive economic zone, environmental protection in the coastal zone, the interplay of marine science and public policy in areas such as ocean pollution and fisheries management, developments in international ocean law, and the role of governments and inter-national organizations in Marine Affairs. To date, students have been attracted to the program from all over the United States and from over 35 other countries.
    Click here to download the MAF Graduate Student Handbook