Information for Prospective Students

School of Marine Science Overview

VIMS is one of the largest marine science research and education centers in the United States and is at the forefront of estuarine and coastal marine science. The School of Marine Science (SMS) is committed to building a talented, diverse, and inclusive community of marine science leaders who have the academic and professional skills necessary to meet the present and future needs of science and society. The SMS encourages traditional and non-traditional applicants to apply. We offer a professional (M.A.) degree as well as research-focused (M.S. & Ph.D.) degrees in Marine Science.

Read through our outlined degree options to find the program that fits your interests.

Who May Apply?

All well-prepared individuals, including those traditionally underrepresented 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. The full non-discrimination notice is available online on William & Mary's Equity Program.

Admission Criteria

Admission is based on past and potential academic performance, experience, and leadership in marine science. Approximately 20% - 30% of applicants are offered admission annually. Review the required Admissions Components to determine what must be included in your application as well as due dates.


All applicants must have a B.A. or B.S. from an accredited institution.

Applicants for the professional degree (M.A.) program do not need to have been science majors, but must be able to demonstrate preparation for graduate-level courses in science and mathematics.

Applicants for the M.S. and Ph.D. programs 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 (e.g., physics, meteorology, mathematics, or engineering), and a solid quantitative background. Coursework in statistics is recommended for all students. Most successful applicants have completed an undergraduate degree in a basic science or an advanced degree (M.S.) in marine science or a closely allied field.

Applicants for the M.S. and Ph.D. programs should identify and contact faculty of interest when applying. Students in either the M.S. or Ph.D. degree tracks receive support through faculty grants and contacts; offers of admission are therefore connected to a faculty member agreeing to serve as an advisor. Review current faculty research to identify your areas of interest and contact faculty to determine if space is available.


Contact Information:
Email |
Phone | (804) 684-7105

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 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 off-campus buildings, or on property owned or controlled by the university or on public property within or immediately adjacent to the campus. 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.

Apply to the School of Marine Science