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Marine Biodiversity and Conservation

[ courses | faculty ]

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Program Coordinator
(858) 822-2886

All courses, faculty listings, and curricular and degree requirements described herein are subject to change or deletion without notice.

The master of advanced studies in marine biodiversity and conservation (MAS MBC) program trains the trailblazers of tomorrow to address the world’s most pressing ocean and coastal challenges. Students learn about marine ecosystems and conservation through an interdisciplinary, hands-on curriculum in marine biology, ecology, oceanography, social justice, communication, economics, law, and policy.

MAS MBC students enjoy access to world-class researchers, NOAA Fisheries scientists, and the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The program is also connected to valuable non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community partners who are at the forefront of marine conservation issues in California, the U.S., and globally.

Alumni spearhead research, lead agencies, work with tribes, create policy, craft effective communication strategies, direct NGOs, produce films, and impact marine conservation in meaningful ways. With demonstrated success, our alumni change the way the world understands and manages its ocean resources.


New students apply each fall and are admitted in early spring (February-March) each academic year. Prospective candidates should submit and complete the official UC San Diego online graduate application for admission, one set of unofficial transcripts from each institution attended after high school, three letters of recommendation, a current résumé or curriculum vitae, and the application fee. The GRE/GMAT is not required. The program is most appropriate for applicants with at least three years of experience in resource management, education, outreach, science, advocacy, journalism, law, or communications. International applicants must submit official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Program of Study

The full-time degree program is designed to be completed in one year. In the summer session, classes are scheduled five days a week, eight hours a day. In the fall, winter, and spring, students take courses that are held during regularly scheduled university class hours. Students are required to complete fifty units of courses, comprising thirty-four core units, including a six-unit capstone project, and sixteen elective units.

Core Courses (thirty-four units)
  • SIO 295S. Introduction to Marine Biodiversity and Conservation—Seminar (eight units)
  • SIO 295LS. Introduction to Marine Biodiversity and Conservation—Lab (eight units)
  • MBC 258. Marine Conservation and Communication Practicum 1 (two units)
  • MBC 259. Marine Conservation and Communication Practicum 2 (two units)
  • SIO 218. Ocean and Coastal Law and Policy (four units)
  • Core Course in Economics (four units)
    • Student may either take Econ 281, Special Topics in Economics, or another course approved by the MAS MBC leadership team. Please contact the program for a list of approved courses.
  • MBC 296. Capstone Independent Study Project (six units)
Elective Course Requirements and Research Requirements (sixteen units)

Students enroll in sixteen elective units of course work related to marine biodiversity and conservation issues. Please contact the program for a list of approved elective courses.

Capstone, Thesis, and/or Comprehensive Examination Requirement (six units)

All students must complete an interdisciplinary capstone project and present at the annual MAS MBC Capstone Symposium in June. The MAS MBC capstone project allows students to design and structure an interdisciplinary, collaborative project that: applies the knowledge gained in the program; enhances student understanding of a marine or coastal issue; builds marketable skills; and has a theoretical grounding and real-world application. Students partner with university faculty and external organizations and agencies to execute projects that culminate in a written paper, film, educational curriculum, business plan, economic analysis, management plan, or anything substantial that will prepare students for future employment.