Virginia Institute of Marine Science

School of Marine Science Graduate Program

We provide our graduate students with education and training that will allow them to achieve their full intellectual potential and successfully pursue careers in marine science. 

The School of Marine Science (SMS) of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) and College of William and Mary (W&M) offers outstanding education and research opportunities for students who seek advanced careers in academia, government, or the private sector. We currently have 54 faculty in our 4 academic departments and 95 full-time students at our campus in Gloucester Point, Virginia. We are located less than 30 minutes from the W&M main campus in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Degree Programs

At the graduate level we offer Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in Marine Science. Students entering SMS select a faculty advisor in one of 4 departments: Biological Sciences, Aquatic Health Sciences, Fisheries Science, or Physical Sciences. Interdisciplinary studies are encouraged and students may have co-advisors in different departments. Details on the programs are available in the School of Marine Science Graduate Catalog.  

The School of Marine Science also offers an undergraduate minor in marine science in collaboration with W&M Arts and Sciences and other programs for undergraduates who may be interested in pursuing careers in marine science.

Resource Management and Marine Policy

Collaboration between SMS and the W&M Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy (TJPPP) enables students interested in resource management and policy to complete additional course work for a sub-concentration in marine policy (see our catalog for details), or with successful application to a joint degree program, a Master of Science (MS) degree in Marine Science and Master of Public Policy (MPP).

Research Opportunities

Research at VIMS/SMS extends from inland watersheds to the open ocean, with primary emphasis on estuarine and coastal science and issues such as eutrophication, habitat degradation, over-fishing, climate change, human health risks, alternative energy sources, and coastal flooding. Our faculty, staff, and students have worked at both poles, on all continents, and in all the oceans in between. Our emphasis on interdisciplinary research brings perspectives from a variety of disciplines to the search for new knowledge.  Many of our research programs produce results that have direct application to resource management, regulation of industry, and other important environmental issues at state, regional, federal, and international levels. These varied research foci and approaches provide SMS students with a wealth of opportunities and experiences that facilitate learning and discovery and prepare them with the skills and training they need to become leading professionals in the field.   

Students in our graduate program may also interact with faculty and staff of our Aquaculture and Genetics Breeding Technology Center (ABC), Center for Coastal Resource Management (CCRM), Marine Advisory Services Program (MAS), and Eastern Shore Laboratory (ESL), as well as our state and federal partner programs—the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (CBNERR), NOAA Chesapeake Bay Program Office at VIMS, and Virginia Sea Grant (VASG).

Contact Us

  • Dr. Linda Schaffner, Associate Dean of Academic Studies, VIMS/SMS
  • Ms. Cathy Cake, VIMS/SMS Graduate Program Business Manager
  • Ms. Jennifer Hay, VIMS/SMS Registrar
Office of Academic Studies
Post Office Box 1346
1375 Greate Road (shipping)
Gloucester Point, VA 23062  
E-mail: [[academicstudies, Office of Academic Studies]] or [[admissions, Admissions]] or [[registrar, Registrar]]
Telephone: 804-684-7105 (Main Office/Admissions); 804-684-7106 (Registrar)