Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Graduate Program Student Handbook

The current Graduate Program Catalog contains the official academic policies of the School of Marine Science.  The Handbook provides details of associated procedures and other information that is designed to help students understand and meet degree requirements.  All graduate program forms are available electronically. Note: You must be on the VIMS intranet to access the forms.

For any questions, contact the [[registrar, VIMS/SMS Registrar]].

Note: the next section is under construction (July 27, 2015)

Degree Requirements:

Milestones and associated timelines based on your date of entry to the program are given below, with links to further information.  The Milestone Dashboard allows you to check your milestone status.  login (intranet only)

Major Advisor and Declaration of Department (8 months)

Advisory Committee and Research Topic Selection (9 months)

Pre-qualifying Interview (12 months)

Intent to Bypass Notification (submit before taking the Comprehensive Exam) - for students seeking the M.S. bypass option

Comprehensive Exam (21 months; must be passed within 24 months) - for students seeking the M.S. bypass option as well as Ph.D. students 

Request to Bypass - M.S. bypass option (submit after passing the Comprehensive Exam)

Qualifying Exam & Prospectus Defense (18 months for M.S., 30 months for Ph.D., including via bypass)

Admission to Candidacy (24 months for M.S., 30 months for Ph.D.)

Thesis or Dissertation Defense and Public Seminar Presentation (3 months prior to completion of degree requirements)

Completion of Degree Requirements (36 months for M.S., 48, 60 or 72 months for Ph.D.)


The M.S. program is a 36 month program (maximum).  For the Ph.D. program, the expected date of graduation depends on program length as follows: entered the program with a M.S. from SMS (48 month), a M.S. from another institution of by-passed the SMS M.S. program for the Ph.D. program.  and other milestones are set accordingly.