http://www.rsmas.miami.edu/grad-studies

The Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) was established in 1943 as the Marine Laboratory of the University of Miami. It has grown from its modest beginnings in a boathouse to be one of the nation’s leading institutions for oceanographic and atmospheric research and education.

Originally a tropical marine biological facility, the Marine Laboratory initiated a program of studies leading to the Master of Science degree in 1949. In 1953, laboratory and classroom buildings were constructed on the School’s present campus on Virginia Key, and in the late fifties, the Marine Laboratory expanded its staff and developed its oceanographic capabilities in response to the increased interest in scientific research in the United States. It became the Institute of Marine Science in 1961. Ocean-going research vessels were acquired, and additional buildings were constructed to accommodate new wide-ranging projects. In 1969 the Institute, now a School, was named for Dorothy H. and Lewis Rosenstiel in recognition of a major contribution made through the Rosenstiel Foundation to encourage progress in the marine and atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami. 

Today, RSMAS has a faculty of 70 scientists who conduct sponsored research while offering graduate studies leading to the Master of Professional Science, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The School offers graduate programs in Atmospheric Sciences, Marine Ecosystems and Society, Marine Biology and Ecology, Marine Geosciences, Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, Ocean Engineering, and Ocean Sciences. Undergraduate programs leading to a Bachelor of Science in Marine and Atmospheric Science (with majors in Marine Science, and Meteorology), and a Bachelor of Arts in Marine Affairs are also offered. 

RSMAS uses multiple laboratory and high-performance computing facilities and a state-of-the art catamaran. The Marine Technology and Life Sciences Seawater Complex (MTLSSC), opened in 2014, houses studies that rely on seawater for observing air-sea interactions in a controlled environment and for holding, spawning and rearing marine organisms. This complex is the centerpiece of an updated RSMAS campus. The catamaran, named the F. G. Walton Smith, in honor of the founder of the Rosenstiel School has been in service since 2000. The 96-foot-long catamaran is able to explore the deep ocean as well as normally inaccessible shallow environments such as reefs, mangroves and grassbeds.


Academic Programs

The Rosenstiel School is made up of seven academic programs:

Admission requirements and undergraduate preparation recommendations for all graduate programs are available at http://www.rsmas.miami.edu/academics/graduate-programs/prospective-students/


General Degree Requirements

Master of Professional Science (M.P.S.) Program

The Master of Professional Science (M.P.S.) degree offers many tracks within the departments of Marine Ecosystems and Society (Aquaculture, Coastal Zone Management, Coastal Sustainability, Exploration Science, Marine Conservation, Fisheries Management and Conservation, and Underwater Archaeology), Marine Biology and Ecology (Marine Mammal Science and Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management), Atmospheric Sciences (Broadcast Meteorology, Computational Meteorology and Oceanography, Weather, Climate and Society, and Weather Forecasting), and Ocean Sciences (Applied Remote Sensing and Natural Hazard and Catastrophes). It is expected that the normal time for completion of degree requirements for the Master of Professional Science degree will be ~ 15 months of full-time study.

Checklist

All M.P.S. students should follow the M.P.S. Checklist, which indicates all the milestones that must completed in order to graduate from the Rosenstiel School. 

Credit Hour Requirements

All M.P.S. students are required to complete 24–28 course credits and 2–6 internship credits with an approved agency, institution, or business, culminating in a formal report. Within each track, there are compulsory classes and electives. Coursework is multidisciplinary and thus will be encouraged and accepted from multiple departments. 

Academic Advisor and Faculty Mentor/Committee Chair

Students will be assigned an Academic Advisor during their first semester in residence. The advisor must hold an appointment in the program representing each student’s track selection. This individual will offer guidance regarding University expectations, coursework, registration, program details, and graduation requirements. At the beginning of the first semester, the student and the Academic Advisor will establish the curriculum to be followed, based on the student's personal and professional goals and M.P.S. track enrollment. Each student will also identify and request the involvement of a Faculty Mentor, who will act as the Committee Chair and as a resource to the student regarding career guidance and the selection of an appropriate internship. Track Coordinators typically act as Faculty Mentors/Committee Chairs, but exceptions are permitted. Students should identify their mentor/chair no later than the end of the first semester.

Committee

All M.P.S. students must have a graduate committee of at least 3 members. This committee will include a Committee Chair, who is usually the faculty mentor, an additional faculty member from UM, and one outside committee member, who is usually the direct supervisor at the student’s internship. Each member should be an expert in the student’s chosen track, and more specifically, the topic of their final report. Though deviations from these guidelines are possible, they must be approved by the M.P.S. Dean and Program Director. The Appointment to Student Committee form solidifies the committee and is due by the end of the second semester in residence.

Comprehensive Examination

A comprehensive examination is required of all M.P.S. students prior to beginning an internship. The exam will be written and will typically be based on core course content. Each program determines the content and form of the examination in a given year-class, according to general school guidelines. In the event of a failure, a student may be re-examined once, upon the advice of the student's advisor and at the discretion of the graduate faculty of the program. If granted, the re-examination must be given before the end of the following semester. The M.P.S. Office should receive written notification of the results through the Comprehensive Exam form. Students who fail the re-examination are subject to dismissal from the school. 

Pre-Internship

Before being allowed to begin an internship, a student must: 

  • Submit the Appointment to Committee form
  • Submit the Internship Commitment Form and a one-page summary of the proposed project, highlighting the timeline, goals, expectations, and objectives of your internship
  • Complete at least 12 credits, with a minimum grade point average of 3.0
  • Remove all incomplete grades or deficiencies

Internship

Each student will be required to complete an internship with an organization engaged in some activity associated with marine and/or atmospheric science and identify an Internship Supervisor. Such organizations can be faculty or researchers from accredited universities and laboratories, national or international agencies, private corporations, or foreign governments with clearly defined marine-oriented programs or activities. Internships can be either paid or unpaid by the organization, or interns can complete the internship by formal participation in a university sponsored program or research in some area of marine science. All internships MUST be approved by the student’s committee chair/faculty mentor. The Internship Commitment Form is due BEFORE a student engages in an internship. Additionally, a detailed synopsis of a proposed contribution to the hosting organization is required as a formal proposal, preferably before the internship begins, but no later than 3 weeks after the start date. The internship proposal will include: an introduction to the topic (i.e. a literature review), a statement of the problem, the purpose of the study, methods and materials (i.e. the proposed activities and analyses), a timeline, and plans for disseminating the information. The internship proposal template and guidelines are available on the M.P.S. website

Internship Report

The final grade (Pass/Fail) will be based on a written report and an oral presentation. The internship report is not a summary of involvement but rather a contributory assessment of the experience, including developmental insight and a summary of any research performed. This is the final tangible product of the degree, akin to a M.S. thesis, and should be a coherent, polished document of publishable quality. Copies of the final, approved report should be distributed as follows:

  • One electronic copy to each member of your committee
  • One copy for the representative agency, institution, or business (electronic and/or hard copy, at their request)
  • One electronic copy via e-mail and the original (hardcopy) title page to the M.P.S. Office

Oral Presentation

A strict requirement for the completion of the M.P.S. degree is an oral presentation, preferably offered to the hosting organization. Oral presentations should be no longer than 2025 minutes in length, should include a visual component (e.g. PowerPoint), and may not be scheduled until all committee members have edited at least one draft of the internship report. Additionally, the PowerPoint (or equivalent) must be reviewed and edited by your Committee Chair, and all committee members are expected to attend the presentation, either in person or virtually. If you plan to present at RSMAS, please coordinate with your committee to identify a mutually agreeable time and date, and then schedule your presentation with the M.P.S. Office. In order to graduate, you must submit a PDF copy of your presentation to the M.P.S. Office via email.

Conference Attendance

Though not mandatory, M.P.S. students are strongly encouraged to attend a scientific conference during their academic residency at RSMAS.

Graduation

All M.P.S. students, including joint J.D./M.P.S. students, must submit a graduation request using CaneLink during the semester in which they plan to graduate. All required forms, including the Clearance Form and the final internship report (Certificate of Approval and cover page signed by all committee members), must be submitted to the M.P.S. Office no later than the Graduate School Deadline for Completion of Dissertation/Thesis, which will be communicated via e-mail and is indicated on the UM Academic Calendar.

Master of Science (M.S.) Program

The Master of Science (M.S.) degree is offered in Atmospheric Sciences, Marine Biology and Ecology, Marine Ecosystems and Society, Marine Geosciences, Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, and Ocean Sciences. The expected time to completion for the M.S. degree is two years of full-time study.

Checklist and Academic Plan

Each student should follow the Checklist for Defense and Graduation, which will guide the student through all the milestones that the student must complete in order to graduate from the Rosenstiel School. This begins with an Academic Plan that identifies the number of courses a student must take to graduate, according to the program handbook. This should be reviewed between the student and Program Director in the first semester.  

Credit Hour Requirements

M.S. students are required to take a minimum of 30 credit hours, which consists of 24 graduate course credits and 6 research credits, PGM 810 (“PGM” is the program abbreviation). All RSMAS students are required to take the Research Ethics course (RSM 700). 

M.S. students with prior graduate coursework may transfer up to 6 course credits from another accredited institution with the approval of his/her committee. Students must submit the completed Petition for Transfer of Credit form to the RSMAS Graduate Studies Office (GSO) for processing. In no case will credit be transferred until the student has completed an equivalent number of course credits (with grades of "B" or above) at UM. 

Any student whose cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) falls below 3.0 will receive written notice from his/her program with copies to the RSMAS GSO stating that he/she is on academic probation.  Any graduate student who receives this warning letter must meet the full standards of academic progress set forth by the University by the end of the subsequent semester. Students who fail to meet the cumulative GPA requirement have failed to meet the satisfactory academic progress standards established by the university and are no longer eligible to receive any graduate assistantship, fellowship or tuition scholarship and are subject to dismissal from the school.

Committee

The “Thesis Committee” described in the UM Graduate Student Handbook is commonly known as the student’s “Committee” at RSMAS. Once the committee is formed (typically in the second year), the Appointment to Student’s Committee form should be completed, signed by all members and the Program Director, and forwarded to GSO.  Proposed changes to the membership of a committee must be approved by the Committee Chair and must carry the endorsement of the Program Director, before being forwarded to GSO. The committee should meet regularly to review the student's progress, and the student and committee should prepare a short report on progress and research directions.

No student gains the right to be recommended for the degree simply by fulfilling requirements. This right is reserved for the student's Committee.

Comprehensive Examination

A comprehensive examination may be required by the end of the third semester.  Whether or not to host the exam, as well as the required content and format, is at the discretion of each program. The exam can be written, oral, or both. Each program establishes the test date for its students in a given year-class. A form notifying GSO of the outcome of the Comprehensive Exam will be submitted by the Committee Chair and approved by the Program Director. In the event of a failure, a student may be re-examined once, upon the advice of the student's advisor and/or committee, and at the discretion of the Program Academic Committee with advice from the Comprehensive Exam Committee.  If granted, the re-examination must be given before the end of the following semester. Students who fail the re-examination are subject to dismissal from the school.

Thesis Proposal

The thesis proposal, containing the following items, must be defended and approved by the student's committee:

  • Tentative title 
  • Statement of the problem and objectives
  • Methodology, including equipment and facilities required
  • Timetable

A Proposal Approval form must accompany the proposal and be signed by the members of the student's committee and Program Director.  

Pre-Defense

Before scheduling the defense, a student must:

  • Have an approved committee on file in GSO
  • Pass the comprehensive exam (if applicable) 
  • Submit and successfully defend the thesis proposal
  • Have a 3.0 average in all credits earned (a minimum of 12 credits although some programs may require more)
  • Remove all incomplete grades or deficiencies

Thesis Defense

Students must be registered for research credits during the semester of defense. An Announcement of Defense form, signed by all committee members, must be turned in to GSO by the student at least 14 days prior to the defense date. The student is responsible for obtaining signatures from all committee members and the Program Director.  Each committee member must be given no less than 14 days to review material prior to signing the Announcement of Defense form.  Thus, the student must provide the committee with a complete version of the thesis 28 days prior to the desired defense date. A Student Payroll End Date form should also be submitted with the Announcement of Defense form. The Committee Chair should notify GSO, in writing, of the outcome of the defense via the Defense Memorandum and Assessment forms. Defense must occur before the last day of the semester. 

Students who wish to have their defense announced to the broader UM community should also fill out the UM Graduate School Defense Notice form. Please note that this announcement cannot be used as a substitute for the RSMAS Announcement of Defense form. 

Thesis Submission

In addition to the regulations in the UM Graduate Student Handbook on submitting the dissertation to the UM Graduate School, an original Certificate of Approval form is required.  This form must be signed by all members of the student's committee and then delivered by the student to GSO at least one day prior to the end of the semester.  The Associate Dean of Graduate Studies will sign it prior to delivery to the UM Graduate School.

Graduation 

A student must apply for graduation during the semester in which he/she intends to graduate. This must be done either at registration or no later than the deadline specified on the University Academic Calendar. Applications are completed online through CaneLink. If a student applies for graduation in a given semester and does not meet the deadline for defense and submission, he/she must re-apply for graduation for the following semester. Defense and submission deadlines are set by the Graduate School. 

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Program

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is offered in Atmospheric Sciences, Marine Biology and Ecology, Marine Ecosystems and Society, Marine Geosciences, Meteorology and Physical Oceanography, and Ocean Sciences. The expected time to completion for a Ph.D. degree is five years. A student in residence in the program beyond 8 years requires approval by the Program Director and Associate Dean. 

Academic Plan

Each student should follow the Checklist for Defense and Graduation, which will guide the student through all the milestones that the student must complete in order to graduate from the Rosenstiel School. This begins with an Academic Plan that identifies the number of courses a student must take to graduate, according to the program handbook. This should be reviewed between the student and Program Director in the first semester.  

Credit Hour Requirements

Each program sets their own requirements with regard to course and research credits, PGM 830 (where “PGM” is the program abbreviation), as stated in the Program Handbook, as long as a minimum of 60 total credits are taken. All RSMAS students are required to take the Research Ethics course (RSM 700). 

It is up to each program to determine, upon admission, whether a transfer student requires more course credits to fulfill the Ph.D. requirements. Ph.D. students entering with a Master’s Degree from another university may transfer up to 24 course credits. Individual programs may require more course credits to remove deficiencies. Of the 36 remaining credits needed for the Ph.D., a minimum of 12 must be taken as research credits (PGM 830). Ph.D. students with prior graduate coursework may transfer up to 9 course credits from another accredited institution with the approval of his/her committee. Students must submit the completed Petition for Transfer of Credit form to the RSMAS Graduate Studies Office (GSO) for processing.  In no case will credit be transferred until the student has completed an equivalent number of course credits (with grades of "B" or above) at UM. 

Any student whose cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) falls below 3.0 will receive written notice from his/her program with copies to GSO stating that he/she is on academic probation.  Any graduate student who receives this warning letter must meet the full standards of academic progress set forth by the University by the end of the subsequent semester.  Students who fail to meet the cumulative GPA requirement have failed to meet the satisfactory academic progress standards established by the university and are no longer eligible to receive any graduate assistantship, fellowship or tuition scholarship and are subject to dismissal from the school.

Committee

The “Supervisory Committee” and “Dissertation Committee” described in the UM Graduate Student Handbook are commonly known as the student’s “Committee” at RSMAS, and are normally the same committee. Once the Committee is formed (typically in the second year), the Appointment to Student’s Committee form should be completed, signed by all members and the Program Director, and forwarded to GSO.  Proposed changes to the membership of a Committee must be approved by the Committee Chair and must carry the endorsement of the Program Director, before being forwarded to GSO.  The Committee should meet regularly to review the student's progress, and the student and Committee should prepare a short report on progress and research directions.

No student gains the right to be recommended for the degree simply by fulfilling requirements. This right is reserved for the student's Committee.

Comprehensive Examination

A comprehensive examination is required by the end of the third semester. The exam can be written, oral, or both. Each program determines the content and form of the examination, and establishes the test date for its students in a given year-class. A form notifying GSO of the outcome of the Comprehensive Exam will be submitted by the Committee Chair and approved by the Program Director. In the event of a failure, a student may be re-examined once, upon the advice of the student's advisor and/or committee, and at the discretion of the Program Academic Committee with advice from the Comprehensive Exam Committee.  If granted, the re-examination must be given before the end of the following semester. Students who fail the re-examination are subject to dismissal from the school.

Qualifying Examination

The written qualifying examination is normally administered around the time of the proposal defense.  In addition, an oral qualifying examination may be required by the program or the student's committee. The committee will prepare and administer the written examination (and oral examination, if required) within the program guidelines.  A form notifying GSO of the outcome of the Qualifying Exam will be submitted by the Committee Chair and approved by the Program Director.

Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal, containing the following items, must be defended and approved by the student's committee:

  • Tentative title 
  • Statement of the problem and objectives
  • Methodology, including equipment and facilities required
  • Timetable

A Proposal Approval form must accompany the proposal and be signed by the members of the student's committee and Program Director.  

Admission to Candidacy

Before being admitted to candidacy, a student must:

The application for Admission to Candidacy must be completed and turned in to GSO at least one semester prior to the expected semester of graduation.

Dissertation Defense 

Students must be registered for research credits during the semester of defense. An Announcement of Defense form, signed by all committee members, must be turned in to GSO by the student at least 14 days prior to the defense date. The student is responsible for obtaining signatures from all committee members and Program Director.  Each committee member must be given no less than 14 days to review material prior to signing the Announcement of Defense form. Thus, the student must provide the committee with a complete version of the dissertation 28 days prior to the desired defense date. A Student Payroll End Date form should also be submitted with the Announcement of Defense form. The Committee Chair should notify GSO, in writing, of the outcome of the defense via the Defense Memorandum and Assessment forms.  Defense must occur before the last day of the semester.

Students who wish to have their defense announced to the broader UM community should also fill out the UM Graduate School Defense Notice form. Please note that this announcement cannot be used as a substitute for the RSMAS Announcement of Defense form. 

Dissertation Submission 

In addition to the regulations in the UM Graduate Student Handbook on submitting the dissertation to the UM Graduate School, an original Certificate of Approval form is required.  This form must be signed by all members of the student's committee and then delivered by the student to GSO at least one day prior to the end of the semester.  The Associate Dean of Graduate Studies will sign it prior to delivery to the UM Graduate School.

Graduation 

A student must apply for graduation during the semester in which he/she intends to graduate. This must be done either at registration or no later than the deadline specified on the University Academic Calendar. Applications are completed online through CaneLink. If a student applies for graduation in a given semester and does not meet the deadline for defense and submission, he/she must re-apply for graduation for the following semester. Defense and submission deadlines are set by the Graduate School. 

Educational Training Program (Teaching Assistants)

RSMAS Ph.D. students are expected to be a Teaching Assistant (TA) for two courses while pursuing their degree. A training session and two teaching opportunities are offered as courses in educational training (RSM 771, RSM 772, RSM 773). The mandatory TA program will include training of new TAs, evaluation of their performance, and recognition of excellence. The goal is to make the experience as valuable as possible for the TA, the faculty, and the students taking our courses. The following are specific requirements of RSMAS TAs: 

  • Register for Educational Training courses: RSM 771, RSM 772, RSM 773.
  • Review TA Resources on the RSMAS website.
  • Complete online Graduate School TA training, GRD 601.
  • Foreign students must pass a “Speak Test”.
  • Complete RSMAS TA training workshop, RSM 771. 
  • Meet with faculty BEFORE the beginning of the semester to discuss duties/expectations (preferably before TA training).
  • Attend first day of class to be introduced to students.
  • Set up and maintain consistent office hours. Add your name, contact information, and office hours (location/time) to the course syllabus.
  • Spend on average 12-15 hours/week on class-related duties.
  • The student must have a minimum of two significant teaching opportunities during the semester. If more than two teaching opportunities are offered to the TA, the faculty instructor must be present and provide feedback for these activities. This could be a lecture, a discussion section, or a lab. 
  • Perform an end-of-semester evaluation of their experience in the course.

RSMAS TA Excellence awards will be given out annually. Faculty nominations for these awards are solicited each semester, and awards will be given at the end of the academic year.