The PhD program in Marine Biology and Ecology have the following subject emphases, from which each student choses a relevant curriculum:

CORAL REEF AND COASTAL ECOLOGY employs ecological, physiological and molecular approaches to understand, conserve, manage, and restore coral reefs, seagrasses, mangroves and their associated biota.

MARINE ORGANISMAL AND BIOMEDICAL SCIENCE focuses on how marine organisms respond to their environment on physiological and evolutionary time scales. This research integrates whole animal and cellular studies of physiology, biochemistry, neurobiology, genomics, molecular biology, aging, pathology and toxicology to understand factors controlling these responses and to develop these systems as models for human health.

BIOLOGICAL OCEANOGRAPHY focuses on adaptations, ecological interactions, food webs, and biogeochemical cycles of the ocean.

FISHERIES SCIENCE studies the direct and indirect impacts of living marine resource exploitation on marine populations, communities and habitats and investigates solutions to the problems of unsustainable, habitat-damaging and/or inefficient fishing, including the minimization of bycatch and food web disruption.

In the first year, a PhD student takes required course work, passes the comprehensive exam, forms a dissertation/thesis committee, and has the first committee meeting. PhD students must pass qualifying exams. A successful qualifying exam admits the PhD student to candidacy. In the third year and every year thereafter, a PhD student holds a committee meeting and provides an annual progress report to the committee. Committee chair and student should collaborate on a concise description of this meeting for their files, and the chair makes an annual summary to the faculty of the student’s satisfactory progress. To graduate with a PhD requires PhD candidacy and the candidate must apply to graduate one semester prior to defending. The complete written dissertation must be made available to the dissertation committee four weeks prior to the oral defense. The announcement of defense, indicating that the committee tentatively approves of the dissertation, must occur 2 weeks prior to the defense. The student must provide an oral presentation and defend the dissertation in public. Documentation for committees and committee meetings must be provided to the GSO, and description of annual progress must be provided to the MBE AC. It is expected that a student will defend the PhD five years after entering the MBE graduate student program (four years if they hold a Master’s degree).