Program description

The Marine and Estuarine Science Program is a specialization of existing graduate programs in the Biology Department and the Department of Environmental Sciences. Students participating in MESP must apply and be admitted through one of these departments. The application process allows students to be considered by either or both academic units with the choice of advisers reflecting the student's primary research interests. The advisers' departmental affiliation determines the department(s) to which the applicant must apply.

For an application to be complete, the following must be on file in the Graduate School:

  • All references
  • Two official transcripts
  • GRE scores
  • A statement of purpose

Students in both environmental science and biology programs can work with faculty and staff at the Shannon Point Marine Center to complete their thesis research. However, the thesis committee chair must be from the academic unit through which the student is admitted and the degree will be granted by the Graduate School through the academic unit in which the student is matriculated.

Application and program requirements


Department of Biology

Department of Environmental Sciences

Application dates

Master's candidates matriculated through the Biology Department (M.S. in biology) are admitted fall only; spring quarter by petition. The deadline for priority consideration is February 1.

Master's candidates matriculated through Environmental Sciences (M.S. in environmental science) are admitted fall quarter only. For priority consideration, completed applications should be received by February 1.


BS/BA and departmental permission. Upper-division courses:

  • Genetics

  • Cell biology

  • Ecology

  • Biometrics

  • Supporting coursework in organismal biology

Deficiencies must be removed prior to advancement to candidacy.

BS/BA and college-level coursework including:

  • Year of general chemistry

  • Quarter of organic chemistry

  • Year of general biology

  • Ecology

  • Calculus

  • Statistics

Missing prerequisites will be required upon admission.


Graduate Record Exam-General Test

Graduate Record Exam-General Test


45 credits minimum including:

  • Biol 501 - Fund of Biol Res (3)

  • Biol 505 - Cur Res in Mar Sci (1)

  • Biol 525 - Res Mentorship (4)

  • Biol 598 - Essentials of Biol Grad Studies (2)

  • Biol 690 Thesis Research (12-36)

  • Written thesis

  • Departmental seminar and a final oral examination by the thesis committee

45 credits minimum including:

  • Esci 501 - Research in Env Science (3)

  • Biol 505 - Cur Res in Mar Sci (1)

  • 29 credits of elective coursework including 3 courses chosen from the marine and estuarine science specialization

  • Esci 690 - Thesis Research (12)

  • Written thesis

  • Departmental seminar and a final oral examination by the thesis committee

Application process

Students interested in MESP must apply for admission to a Western Washington University academic unit. If you are applying to BOTH Environmental Sciences and Biology, you must include TWO application forms, TWO application fees and TWO MESP-Adviser Selection forms (i.e., one application must specify Biology and the other Environmental Sciences). You need submit only one set of transcripts and GRE scores. Each department will make an independent decision resulting in two separate notification letters. You may only accept admission to one program. If you are accepted to both programs, you will choose the one through which you wish to matriculate.

Applicants to the Marine and Estuarine Science Program are strongly advised to contact potential advisors before submitting an application. This will help you identify the appropriate academic unit and could increase your chances of acceptance.


Page Updated 10.03.2013