Marine and Environmental Sciences, PhD

The PhD in Marine and Environmental Sciences (MES) program provides students with advanced course work and training in the concentration areas of marine sciences, geosciences, sustainability sciences, and ecology and evolutionary biology. 

Students must pass three examinations during the course of their graduate studies:

  1. An oral examination by the student’s dissertation committee.
  2. A proposal defense presented to the student's dissertation committee that explains the research areas that the student proposes to work in.
  3. A defense of the student's written dissertation consisting of a public seminar, public question-and-answer period, and private defense of their work to their dissertation committee. Dissertation committees consist of at least four Northeastern faculty and one external faculty member.

A cumulative GPA of 3.000 is required for graduation. All PhD students are required to have at least two first-authored publications submitted to or accepted in a peer-reviewed journal prior to their defense. The PhD will be awarded following submission of a dissertation, approved by the candidate’s dissertation committee, to the College of Science.


Students who ​do not qualify for the doctoral degree, but who have completed ​required coursework with a cumulative GPA of 3.000 or better, may be eligible to receive ​a terminal MS Marine and Environmental Sciences degree. Note that no students will be admitted directly into the Marine and Environmental Sciences program to pursue a masterʼs degree.

Bachelor's Degree Entrance

Complete all courses and requirements listed below unless otherwise indicated.

Milestones

Annual review
Dissertation committee
Qualifying examination
Dissertation proposal
Candidacy
First-author publication
Dissertation defense

Core Requirements

Statistics
Complete one of the following:4
Biostatistics
and Lab for ENVR 6500
Experimental Design Marine Ecology
and Lab for EEMB 5522
Alternative statistics course as approved by graduate committee
Research
Complete the following (repeatable) course twice:8
Research

Concentration

Complete one of the following concentrations:

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Seminars
EEMB 7102Seminar in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology2
Complete one of the following:2
Seminar in Marine and Environmental Sciences
Seminar in Sustainability Sciences
Seminar in Geosciences
Readings
EEMB 8102Readings in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology2
Concentration-Specific Electives
Complete 12 semester hours from the following: 12
Environmental Planning
Ancient Marine Life
and Lab for ENVR 5242
Geographical Information Systems
Ecological Dynamics
and Lab for EEMB 5130
Biology of Corals
Biology and Ecology of Fishes
Marine Birds and Mammals
and Lab for EEMB 5508
Tropical Terrestrial Ecology
Oceanography
and Lab for EEMB 5516
Ocean and Coastal Processes
Coral Reef Ecology
Marine Conservation Biology
Physiological and Molecular Marine Ecology
Marine Invertebrate Zoology and Botany
and Lab for EEMB 5534
Ocean and Coastal Sustainability
Substitutions may be made with approval of graduate committee.

Sustainability Sciences

Seminars
EEMB 7103Seminar in Sustainability Sciences2
Complete one of the following:2
Seminar in Marine and Environmental Sciences
Seminar in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Seminar in Geosciences
Readings
EEMB 8103Readings in Sustainability Sciences2
Concentration-Specific Electives
Complete 12 semester hours from the following: 12
Advanced Topics in Environmental Geology
Geographical Information Systems
Ecological Dynamics
and Lab for EEMB 5130
Biology and Ecology of Fishes
Oceanography
and Lab for EEMB 5516
Ocean and Coastal Processes
Marine Conservation Biology
Ocean and Coastal Sustainability
Introduction to Computational Statistics
Information Design and Visual Analytics
Analyzing Complex Digitized Data
Dynamic Modeling for Environmental Decision Making
Resilient Cities
Quantitative Techniques
Social Networks
Substitutions may be made with approval of graduate committee.

Geosciences

Seminars
EEMB 7104Seminar in Geosciences2
Complete one of the following:2
Seminar in Marine and Environmental Sciences
Seminar in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Seminar in Sustainability Sciences
Readings
EEMB 8104Readings in Geosciences2
Concentration-Specific Electives
Complete 12 semester hours from the following:12
Advanced Topics in Environmental Geology
Soil Science
Environmental Planning
Sedimentary Basin Analysis
and Lab for ENVR 5240
Ancient Marine Life
and Lab for ENVR 5242
Geographical Information Systems
Glacial and Quaternary History
and Lab for ENVR 5270
Ocean and Coastal Processes
Ocean and Coastal Sustainability
Substitutions may be made with approval of graduate committee.

Marine Sciences

Seminars
EEMB 7101Seminar in Marine and Environmental Sciences2
Complete one of the following:2
Seminar in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Seminar in Sustainability Sciences
Seminar in Geosciences
Readings
EEMB 8101Readings in Marine Sciences2
Concentration-Specific Electives
Complete 12 semester hours from the following:12
Ancient Marine Life
and Lab for ENVR 5242
Geographical Information Systems
Glacial and Quaternary History
and Lab for ENVR 5270
Ecological Dynamics
and Lab for EEMB 5130
Biology of Corals
Biology and Ecology of Fishes
Marine Birds and Mammals
and Lab for EEMB 5508
Oceanography
and Lab for EEMB 5516
Ocean and Coastal Processes
Coral Reef Ecology
Marine Conservation Biology
Marine Invertebrate Zoology and Botany
and Lab for EEMB 5534
Ocean and Coastal Sustainability
Substitutions may be made with approval of graduate committee.

Dissertation

Dissertation Term 1
Dissertation Term 2

Program Credit/GPA Requirements

30 total semester hours required
Minimum 3.000 GPA required

Complete all courses and requirements listed below unless otherwise indicated.

Milestones

Annual review
Dissertation committee
Qualifying examination
Dissertation proposal
Candidacy
First-author publication
Dissertation defense

Core Requirements

Statistics
Complete one of the following:4
Biostatistics
and Lab for ENVR 6500
Experimental Design Marine Ecology
and Lab for EEMB 5522
Alternative statistics course as approved by graduate committee

Concentration

Complete one of the following concentrations:

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Seminars
EEMB 7102Seminar in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology2
Complete one of the following:2
Seminar in Marine and Environmental Sciences
Seminar in Sustainability Sciences
Seminar in Geosciences
Readings
EEMB 8102Readings in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology2

Sustainability Sciences

Seminars
EEMB 7103Seminar in Sustainability Sciences2
Complete one of the following:2
Seminar in Marine and Environmental Sciences
Seminar in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Seminar in Geosciences
Readings
EEMB 8103Readings in Sustainability Sciences2

Geosciences

Seminars
EEMB 7104Seminar in Geosciences2
Complete one of the following:2
Seminar in Marine and Environmental Sciences
Seminar in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Seminar in Sustainability Sciences
Readings
EEMB 8104Readings in Geosciences2

Marine Sciences

Seminars
EEMB 7101Seminar in Marine and Environmental Sciences2
Complete one of the following:2
Seminar in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Seminar in Sustainability Sciences
Seminar in Geosciences
Readings
EEMB 8101Readings in Marine Sciences2

Dissertation

Dissertation Term 1
Dissertation Term 2

Program Credit/GPA Requirements

10 total semester hours required
Minimum 3.000 GPA required