Virginia Institute of Marine Science


The Virginia Institute of Marine Science is committed to building a talented, diverse and inclusive community of marine science leaders who have the education, research and professional skills necessary to meet present and future science and societal needs.  Through William and Mary's School of Marine Science, we offer both the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.  Students may pursue coursework and research in biological oceanography, marine biology and marine and estuarine ecology; fisheries science; environmental sciences of marine and estuarine systems and organisms including aquatic animal and ecosystem health; physical sciences, including marine geology and geological oceanography, physical oceanography, marine environmental chemistry and chemical oceanography and marine resource management and policy; and interdisciplinary programs.  All well-prepared individuals, including those traditionally under-represented in the marine sciences, are encouraged to apply. The School of Marine Science does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability or age in its programs or activities. Admission criteria are based on past and potential academic and research performance, experience, and potential for leadership in the field of marine science.

All applicants should have a strong background in basic science, including physics and chemistry (through organic), mathematics through calculus, and contemporary biology courses. The prospective chemical, geological or physical oceanography student should have an undergraduate degree with appropriate course work in chemistry, geology or related geophysical science, physics, meteorology, mathematics or engineering, and a solid quantitative background. Course work in statistics is recommended for all students. Most successful applicants have completed an undergraduate degree in a basic science or an advanced degree (MS) in marine science or a closely allied field. Our departments offer additional guidelines on preparation for advanced work in the sub-disciplines of marine science and list any specific prerequisites you will need.  Admission to the School of Marine Science is highly competitive, with about 20% of applicants offered admission. 

Please note: It is important to contact potential faculty advisors early in the application process.   We do not make an offer of admission to an applicant until we have identified a faculty advisor.  You should be aware that faculty typically do not have the resources to accept a new student every year.  For this reason, we encourage all applicants to seek external funding (see funding & costs link).  Some excellent candidates for our graduate program may not receive offers of admission due to funding constraints.

Undergraduates who are interested in pursuing a career based on advanced training in marine science should consult with their academic advisors, or with the School of Marine Science (, early in their college careers to identify an academic program that will prepare them for graduate study in marine science.

The Clery Act

Information about campus safety and security may help you in your decision to apply.  The most recent Campus Security and Fire Safety Report for the College of William & Mary, including the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, is available on William & Mary’s website for review. This report is required by federal law and contains policy statements and crime statistics. Three years’ worth of statistics are included for certain types of crimes that were reported to have occurred on campus, in or on off-campus building or property owned or controlled by the university or on public property within or immediately adjacent to the campus.  This report is available online at: or you may request a paper copy in person or to be mailed to you at no expense from the Office of Compliance & Equity, James Blair Hall, Suite 101, Williamsburg, Virginia, 23185,  757.221.3146.