Jun 12, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Professional Science Masters in Marine Sciences

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Professional Science Master’s (PSM) Degree in Marine Sciences

The Professional Science Masters (PSM) degree is a non-thesis, professional practice degree designed to allow students to advance their scientific knowledge while simultaneously developing or enhancing their abilities to apply scientific knowledge in a variety of professional settings, including but not limited to government or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private industry. This two-year program includes graduate-level coursework and an approved internship.

The Marine Science PSM degree program is open to qualified traditional and non-traditional students.  The prospective student must have a BA or BS from an accredited institution and be able to demonstrate, via transcripts and other means, preparation for graduate-level courses in science and the other requirements of the Marine Science PSM program. For more information, please contact SMS Associate Director Heather Hamlin at heather.hamlin@maine.edu



Students will be first accepted by an advisor prior to their formal acceptance into the PSM Program.  Students generally are not admitted “at large,” but must have identified a major professor (advisor) who agrees to direct and help guide them through the program.  In most cases this advisor will work with the student throughout his or her degree program.  The student should discuss professional development interests with the advisor, and if their interests are misaligned, the student should pursue a change of advisor as early as possible in the program, although such changes are unusual.

**Advisor-advisee relationships are unique and different for each student.  Some advisors and advisees get along remarkably well and have a strong friendship as well as a strong sense of mentoring, while some advisors and students have a strictly professional relationship.  Some advisors are “hands-on” in their approach to mentoring students, while other advisors take a more distant approach.  Each student will have a different chemistry with the advisor.  The key to having a good relationship is to have open lines of communication.  A lot of frustration and confusion occurs because either the student or advisor miscommunicated.  Sometimes an outside member of the faculty or program coordinator can help to smooth over a difficult relationship. **

Following successful admission through the UMaine Graduate School, students will be accepted to the PSM program once his/her advisor has been identified and confirmed. An advisory committee is not required in this program.

This advisor must be a member of the SMS Graduate Faculty. In his/her first semester and in consultation with their advisor, the student will create a plan of study that identifies the skill sets s/he is seeking to develop and the courses and internship that will enable him/her to achieve those competencies.


Program of Study

The PSM in Marine Sciences requires a minimum of 30 semester credit hours, including 5 credit hours in an internship (details below).

  • A minimum of 15 course credit hours must be completed from List #1 below - six of these credits must come from a set of core courses. Up to six of the 15 credits may be 400-level courses. The student’s advisor and PSM program coordinator may approve substitute courses for those in List #1, if (1) the course is highly relevant to the student’s career goals, and (2) the student’s background in marine sciences is deemed otherwise sufficient for a Master’s degree in this field. Relevant non-marine science course areas include but are not limited to anthropology, communications, biology and ecology, business administration, conservation biology and wildlife ecology, climate science, engineering, mathematics and statistics, psychology, public policy, resource economics, and sociology.
  • A minimum of 9 course credit hours of professional skills coursework is required (List #2). Students must also take one credit of the marine sciences graduate seminar, SMS 691.  Finally, a minimum of five credits of an approved internship is required for completion of this program.
  • The internship (5 credits) is an important part of the PSM degree and must make a meaningful contribution to the individual’s professional development. The purpose of an internship is to immerse the student in an area of professional practice.
    • In the case of an individual on leave from work, the internship may take place at that person’s place of employment, but must involve marine science and policy activities that go beyond the individual’s normal scope of work and responsibilities.
    • The student’s advisor will work with him/her to help identify and develop the internship. Internship hosts may include a local, state or federal government agency; non-profit organization, or private business. Potential opportunities also exist within the University of Maine System, through units such as the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research; Darling Marine Center; University of Maine Sea Grant Extension Program; and University of Maine School of Law. PSM candidates are free to identify other internship possibilities in or beyond Maine. While faculty will help identify and develop opportunities, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility, with guidance and approval of the student’s advisor, to arrange the internship.

Specific requirements are outlined below. SMS course descriptions are provided elsewhere in the Graduate Catalog.


Degree Requirements

  1. Course List #1: Fifteen (15) credits in marine science and policy [1], to include:


  1. Marine Science Core (3 credits, e.g., one course, from among the following):

SMS 500  Marine Biology

SMS 501  Biological Oceanography

SMS 520  Chemical Oceanography

SMS 525  Marine Biogeochemistry

SMS 541  Physical Oceanography

SMS 484  Estuarine Oceanography


  1. Marine Policy Core (3 credits from among the following. Another course may be substituted with permission from the advisor and program coordinator):

SMS 552  Coupled Natural and Human Systems

SMS 563 Fisheries Policy

SMS 567  Knowledge and Participation in the Science Policy Process

SMS 598 Decision making under Uncertainty

SMS 598 Marine Resource Management


  1. Other Science and Policy Courses (9 credits, 3 must be at the 500-600 level)

SMS xxx   Includes any course at the 400 level or above not already selected from the list of marine science and policy core courses listed in (1) or (2)

SMS 514  Ecology of Marine Sediments

SMS 531  Coral Reef Ecology

SMS 540  Satellite Oceanography

SMS 544  Oceanography and Natural History of the Gulf of Maine

SMS 550  Fisheries Oceanography

SMS 553  Institutions and the Management of Common Pool Resources

SMS 560  Marine Geology

SMS 562  Fisheries Population Dynamics

SMS 585  Marine System Modeling

SMS 595  Data Analysis Methods in Marine Sciences

INT  510  Marine Invertebrate Zoology


A student may select one from among the following:

SMS 597  Independent Study

SMS 598  Special Topics in Marine Science

SMS 692  Problems in Marine Science I (Fall)

SMS 693  Problems in Marine Science II (Spring)

SMS 697  Readings in Marine Science


SMS 400-level courses of potential interest:

SMS  401  Critical Issues in Aquaculture

SMS  402  Oceans and Climate Change

SMS  409  Shellfish Aquaculture

SMS  420  Fish Aquaculture I

SMS  421  Fish Aquaculture II

SMS  422  Biology of Fishes

SMS  425  Applied Population Genetics

SMS 480   Invertebrate Biology

SMS 373/598 Marine and Freshwater Algae

SMS 491 Fisheries Ecology


Courses outside of SMS are also an option:

A student may elect to take up to three 400-600 level science or policy courses through another school or department at the University of Maine provided that (1) the selection is approved by the student’s advisor and the program coordinator, and (2) the student is considered to have an otherwise adequate background in marine sciences for a PSM in Marine Sciences.


  1. Course List #2. Nine (9) credits of professional skills coursework. These courses may come from any unit at the University of Maine. Students are encouraged to gain competency in multiple professional skill areas, including but not limited to Science Communication; Analysis of Large Data Sets; Data Visualization; Participatory and Co-production of Research; and Facilitation. UMaine graduate programs that offer relevant courses to fulfill this requirement include but are not limited to: Business Administration, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Communication, Computer Science, Economics, Education, Mathematics and Statistics, Public Administration, Resource Economics and Policy, Spatial Information Engineering.


  1. One (1) credit graduate seminar, SMS 691.


  1. Five (5) credits of internship as approved by student’s advisor.


  1. Participation in the SMS Graduate Symposium during each year of full-time study (part-time students must participate at least every other year).


Participating faculty include all members of the SMS Graduate Faculty. Please see https://umaine.edu/marine/smspeople/ for an up to date list.


Per the policies of the UMaine Graduate School, grounds for dismissal or probation of a student are as follows:


  1. Any grade lower than a “B-” in a course prescribed by the student’s Advisory Committee
  2. Any report to the Marine Biology degree program faculty from the Advisor or any faculty member indicating dissatisfaction with the student’s progress.  In this case, the report must be discussed at a meeting of a quorum of Marine Biology degree program faculty, who shall vote on any subsequent action.


[1] Note that some of these courses have specific requirements that would need to be met before enrollment.









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