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Marine Science and Conservation

For more information contact

Director of Graduate Studies
Duke Marine Laboratory
135 Duke Marine Lab Road
Beaufort, NC 28516-9721
(252) 504-7585


General Information

Degree offered:
Faculty working with students:
25 (15 in Beaufort and 9 in Durham)
Students receiving Financial Aid:
Test required:
GRE General: Optional for 2021
Application Deadlines

Program Description


December 4, 2020 update: In an effort to provide extra time and funding to our current Ph.D. students, the Nicholas School and Duke Marine Lab have made the difficult decision to pause school-funded Ph.D. admissions for the 2021-22 academic year due to the pandemic. Some faculty support students with external grants and therefore may be able to admit graduate students. Please consult individual faculty for specific admissions information.

The PhD in MSC is designed to ensure that students receive detailed training in a particular discipline of marine natural or social science, while being exposed to sufficient interdisciplinary knowledge that they are able to synthesize information from both the social and natural sciences and apply that information to policy-making.  These students will be prepared for careers either in university teaching or research, or outside of the university involving the application of science to policy-making. 

Doctoral students in MSC emphasize research as the major part of their degree programs.  The committee, chaired by the student’s faculty advisor, will recommend which of the program’s required courses students should take along with any additional courses, and generally help to shape the student’s research program.

The bulk of a student's time will be spent at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC. Students often spend one or two semesters taking graduate level classes on the Durham campus before moving to Beaufort to complete their research; however, residence in Durham is not a requirement.

In addition to MSC and other course work, MSC students are required to present short research update seminars in years 2-4 of their program, complete a preliminary examination, and complete a dissertation. The dissertation is presented in a public seminar and defended to the committee in a dissertation examination.


Spring Application