MSC Doctoral Program Overview

The PhD in MSC is designed to ensure that students receive detailed training in a particular discipline of marine natural or social science, while being exposed to sufficient interdisciplinary knowledge that they are able to synthesize information from both the social and natural sciences and apply that information to policy-making.  These students will be prepared for careers either in university teaching or research, or outside of the university involving the application of science to policy-making.  

Doctoral students in MSC emphasize research as the major part of their degree programs.  The committee, chaired by the student’s faculty advisor, will recommend which of the program’s required courses students should take along with any additional courses, and generally help to shape the student’s research program.

The bulk of a student's time will be spent at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC. Students often spend one or two semesters taking graduate level classes on the Durham campus before moving to Beaufort to complete their research; however, residence in Durham is not a requirement.

In addition to MSC and other course work, MSC students are required to present short research update seminars in years 2-4 of their program, complete a preliminary examination, and complete a dissertation. The dissertation is presented in a public seminar and defended to the committee in a dissertation examination.  

Marine Science and Conservation PhD Course Requirements
(adopted September 2014)

The Division in Marine Science and Conservation at the Nicholas School of the Environment administers its own PhD program. All PhD students in the MSC program fulfill requirements in four areas: professional development, interdisciplinary seminar, theory and methods, and research seminars. The course work amounts to 8 graded and 2 non-graded units of study. Students should discuss other course options and training needs with their advisor.

Professional development

Interdisciplinary seminar

PhD level theory and methods courses
2 courses, 3 units each-- Students take 1 course from approved social sciences and 1 from approved natural sciences courses.

Current natural science courses:

Current social science:

Research seminars

  • In each of years 2, 3, and 4 of their program, MSC students will present an overview of their research interests and progress.