At a Glance

Sound Science for Informed Management

VIMS is unique among marine science institutions in its legal mandate to provide research, education, and advisory service to government, citizens, and industry. Graduate students in William & Mary's School of Marine Science at VIMS have an unparalleled opportunity to conduct research that matters. Research at VIMS extends from inland watersheds to the open ocean, with an emphasis on coastal and estuarine science.

{{youtube:large|iji4bWJWcZI, At VIMS, we invest in the intersections—in the places where rivers meet oceans and shorelines seek the sea. We transform data into policies, students into leaders, and theories into tangible change. We find solutions to global problems, work to restore marine life, and freely share the answers we find. We are people who love the Chesapeake Bay, and the great wide world with which it intersects. Watch our video to learn more.}}

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VIMS provides research, education, and advisory service in marine science to Virginia, the nation, and the world. Learn more.


The School of Marine Science (SMS) at VIMS is the graduate school in marine science for William & Mary. The SMS includes 3 academic sections: Coastal & Ocean Processes, Ecosystem Health, and Natural Resources. The SMS confers M.A., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in marine science.

Outstanding, Diverse Students
  • ~100 graduate students in the School of Marine Science
  • 5 VIMS students have won W&M’s Thatcher Prize for Excellence in Graduate Study since its inception in 2001
  • 68% of Knauss Fellowships awarded in Virginia by the National Sea Grant office have come from VIMS
  • 7 STAR fellowships from the Environmental Protection Agency since 2000
  • Frequent winners of “Best Poster” and “Best Presentation” awards at national and international scientific meetings
Exceptional Faculty & Staff
  • 4 of the world's most prolific authors of oyster-related research articles between 1991 and 2015
  • Authored 3 of the 10 most highly cited works in coastal biogeochemistry between 1971 and 2003
  • 8 winners of the Commonwealth's Outstanding Faculty Award
  • 3 winners of the Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award from W&M
  • 3 recipients of Virginia’s Life Achievement in Science Award
  • 17 papers in Science or Nature during the last decade
  • 3 featured in the Oceanography Society’s special issue on Women in Oceanography
  • 3 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellows
  • 3 presidents of leading marine science societies since 2000
  • Winners of the President’s Award from the National Marine Educators Association for the Bridge website
  • Winners of NOAA’s Coastal America Spirit Award and Environmental Hero Award

VIMS has an enviable record of producing graduates who take on leading roles in academia, government, and the private sector. VIMS grads have headed up the University of Maryland Center of Environmental Science, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, one of the leading environmental consulting and engineering firms in the northeastern U.S., and the Smithsonian’s Ocean Hall, among many other leadership positions. Read our alumni profiles for selected highlights.

  • Our Seawater Research Lab is the largest facility of its kind in the nation, providing 800 gallons per minute to an acre of research tanks and lab space
  • Storm-resistant research pier reaches 300 feet into the York River
  • The William J. Hargis Library houses more than 88,000 volumes, 70,000 pages of scientific reports by VIMS and other agencies, and provides electronic access to marine literature worldwide
  • Visitor Center with aquaria and life-sized models shows how VIMS research benefits the Chesapeake Bay and the ocean
  • Chesapeake Bay Hall and Andrews Hall provide state-of-the-art lab and teaching space in marine science
  • Our fish collection features more than 125,000 specimens in 247 families from the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding waters
  • Boat Basin provides a safe harbor for the VIMS fleet.
  • Diving facility includes diver training room and classrooms to support our 20-member AAUS-certified dive team
  • Geotek® core logger allows the study of past climates, seafloor erosion, and the bottom-dwelling communities that nurture marine food webs
Federal Partners

VIMS is home to 3 federally funded marine programs whose expert staff, cutting-edge facilities and equipment, and highly regarded information products help enrich and expand VIMS' own mission of research, education, and advisory service:

Vessels & Ocean Observing

VIMS has a fleet of 40+ research vessels, including its 93-foot flagship R/V Virginia. VIMS also operates the Virginia Estuarine and Coastal Ocean Observing System, the Dataflow and Acrobat sensors, and 2 Slocum gliders, autonomous underwater vehicles that collect data that are then sent via satellite to a ship or shore-based lab.

  • Established in 1940 as the Virginia Fisheries Laboratory
  • Our 1950s oyster research remains the seminal work on the ecology of these shellfish
  • We began our juvenile fish and blue crab surveys in the Chesapeake Bay in 1955, key fishery management tools that continue today
  • VIMS scientists were leaders in establishing the national Sea Grant and Coastal Zone Management programs in the 1960s
  • Established Eastern Shore Lab in 1962, research there jumpstarted Virginia’s now multi-million dollar hard clam industry
  • Began our annual shark survey in 1973; it’s now the world’s longest-running
  • Our seagrass restoration efforts are the most successful in the world, with nearly 9,000 acres restored to Virginia’s coastal bays
  • We continue to lead the way in developing oyster aquaculture in the Chesapeake Bay and the mid-Atlantic seaboard
  • Our 42-acre main campus in Gloucester Point, Virginia is located near the confluence of the York River and the Chesapeake Bay, with ready access to the Atlantic Ocean
  • Gloucester Point is part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, a system of parks, wildlife refuges, and historic sites administered by the National Park Service
  • Campus views include the Coleman Bridge, the world's largest double swing-span overpass
  • Yorktown, site of the decisive battle of the Revolutionary war, lies just across the York River
  • Battleships and the occasional submarine regularly sail past on their way to the US Naval Weapons Station
  • Our Eastern Shore campus provides ready access to Virginia’s pristine barrier islands and lagoons
  • Our Kauffman Aquaculture Center provides state-of-the-art quarantine facilities for work with non-native species