Student and Applicant Resources

Please also visit CELS Graduate Programs and How to Apply to MAF Programs for more details.

  • Graduate Milestones

    [themify_button style=”green rounded” link=”” target=”_blank” ]MAF courses calendar[/themify_button]

    All forms may be found here:

    Typical time 2-3 semesters 2-3 semesters 4 semesters 6-10 semesters
    Core Courses** MAF 511, MAF 577, MAF 651, EEC/REN 514 MAF 511, MAF 577, MAF 651, EEC/REN 514 MAF 482, MAF 502, MAF 511, MAF 577, MAF 651,EEC/REN 514 MAF 482, MAF 502, MAF 511, MAF 577, MAF 651, EEC/REN 514
    Core courses credits 12 12 18 18
    Elective course credits*** 15 9 21 to 28 at least 24*
    major paper (MAF 589), thesis credits, or research credits 3 (MAF 589) 3 (MAF 589) 6 (MAF 599) 24 (MAF 699)
    Notes   6 credits are taken at RWU and transferred in Non-thesis MAMA also take MAF 589 *(up to 30 may transfer from masters, 6 additional with petition)
    Total Required Credits 30 30 45 72
    Major advisor selected Typically end of 1st semester Typically end of 1st semester Typically beginning of 2nd semester Typically beginning of 2nd semester
    Big Picture Meeting N/A N/A N/A During 3rd Semester
    Committee established N/A N/A  With or before program of study and/or proposal approval  With or before program of study and/or proposal approval
    Committee makeup N/A N/A 2 MAF, 1 outside, 1 chair (outside) 2 MAF, 1 Outside, (Orals  +1 Outside)
    Credit transfers N/A N/A N/A with Program of Study below
    Program of Study End of 1st Semester End of 3rd semester End of 3rd semester End of 3rd semester
    Comp Exam N/A N/A N/A Within 12 months of completing core courses
    Proposal approval by committee End of 1st semester (major paper proposal) End of 1st semester (major paper proposal) Before submission to grad school, typically end of 2nd semester Before submission to grad school, typically end of 4th semester
    IRB Approval Depends on topic/methods Depends on topic/methods After 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 school N/A N/A At least 1 semester before graduation Before end of 7th semester
    Nomination for graduation beginning of final semester beginning of final semester beginning of final semester beginning of final semester
    Defense N/A N/A ~1 month before graduation ~1 month before graduation
    Final Thesis/Dissertation N/A N/A ~2 weeks before graduation ~2 weeks before graduation
    • MAF 511 – Marine Science and Ocean Uses (Fall)
    • MAF 577 – International Ocean Law (Fall)
    • MAF 651 – Marine Affairs Seminar (Fall)
    • MAF 482 – Quantitative Methods in Marine Affairs (Spring)
    • MAF 502 – Research Methods in Marine Affairs (Spring)
    • REN 514 – Economics of Marine Resources (Spring)

    *** For more details on course credits:

  • MAF Graduate Handbook

    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

  • How do I Apply to MAF

    Please review the information below before beginning the application process.

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    Deadlines for Fall admission

    • Jan 15 – Applicants wishing to be considered for URI teaching or research assistantship funding
    • Feb. 1 – International student applicants
    • April 15 – All applicants wishing to be considered for Fall admission


    You do not need a MAF faculty advisor when you are applying for admission, though you are encouraged to contact potential advisors before you apply (especially if you are applying to the Ph.D. program). You will meet many of the faculty active in the program in your first semester and will discover then who works on issues of interest to you.

    Submit your application online through the URI Graduate School.

    See additional information for international applicants


    The URI Graduate School uses the Centralized Application System (CAS) for all online applications. Detailed instructions are provided in the CAS system once you create an account.

    To complete the online application, you will need to provide the following:

    • Personal contact and demographic information
    • Residency status (refer to Residency Guidelines if you are unsure of your status)
    • Intended start term
    • Plan of study to which you seek admission (MMA, MAMA, PhD)
    • Educational background (undergraduate institution, major, GPA, etc.)
    • Resume/CV – Showing education, work, volunteer, teaching, service experience, and publications (as appropriate). Add as an attachment to your application.
      • Note that MMA applicants must show five years of experience in a maritime-related field OR an existing masters degree.
    • Testing information – the General GRE taken within past 5 years is required for all MAMA and PhD applicants (not required for MMA applicants).
      • Please key in your testing date and arrange for an official score report to be sent directly to URI; our ETS institution code 3919 and you do not need to specify a department code.
      • Please refer to the ETS web site for information on testing dates and reporting schedules.
      • International students whose native language is not English are required to submit official results of the TOEFL or IELTS exam taken within the past 2 years.
    • Personal statement – you should prepare your 1-3 page statement in a word processing program and then copy and paste your statement directly into the space provided. Tell us about:
      • your professional goals
      • where you want to be when you complete the MAF program
      • what your passions are
      • what attracts you to the program
      • who on the faculty you might like to work with (and why)
      • why you are an exciting candidate for MAF.
      • MMA applicants who do not have a masters degree should include a note about how they meet the requirement for five years of maritime-related professional experience.
      • See additional guidelines to help you prepare your statement
    • Letters of Recommendation – two letters are required.
      • Enter the names, e-mail addresses and date of your request for each referee.
      • The referees will receive instructions for uploading their letters to the online system.
      • Referees will receive this message from the application system immediately after you save your application with their names and e-mails entered.
      • We recommend you notify your recommenders beforehand because the messages sometimes go to SPAM or Trash folders if security settings are high.
      • If for some reason your referees are unable to use the online system, they may mail a hard copy directly to the MAF department
    • Unofficial Transcripts – Please attach your unofficial transcripts as PDFs. Official transcripts will be required upon admission.
    • Writing Sample for PhD Applicants only – Please attach PDF(s) of at least one example of your writing (e.g., masters thesis, published article)
    • Signature – type your name and the submission date to verify your application.
    • Application Fees – The Graduate School requires a nonrefundable $65 application fee, plus Centralized Application System (CAS) fees.

    2) SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS If accepted, you will need to mail to the MAF program:

    • Official Transcripts – one copy of an official, sealed and stamped transcript from your undergraduate institution and graduate institution (if applicable)
    • Residency affidavit – if you are a Rhode Island resident seeking to be billed at the in-state tuition rate, you will need to provide documentation of your residency status as outlined in the Rhode Island Residency Guidelines.

    Address all supplemental materials to:

    University of Rhode Island
    200 Coastal Institute in Kingston
    1 Greenhouse Road
    University of Rhode Island
    Kingston, RI 02881  

  • Job Market

    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.

  • Is This Field for Me?


    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.