Curriculum Requirements

The applicable requirements will be those in effect during that academic year when the student first registered in the Program, unless stated otherwise in Handbook or by the Program Director. 

All RSMAS courses are listed on the GSO website. All courses taken by students should be approved by their advisors. Students are recommended to consult with their advisors and the MPO Program Director regarding their choices of courses. Deviations from the requirements must be approved by the advisor and the MPO Academic Committee.

The MPO M.S. degree requires 30 total credits. 1
Core Courses12
All MPO M.S. students are required to take the following courses:
Physical Oceanography
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics I
Introduction to Atmospheric Science
Large Scale Ocean Circulation: Models and Observations
General Circulation of the Atmosphere
Electives 212
Thesis Research6
Master's Thesis
Additional Requirements
Research Ethics
Comprehensive Examination 3
MPO Seminar 4
Total Credit Hours30

Minimum of 24 course credits and 6 thesis credits.

  • The remaining course credits can be obtained by taking other graduate courses offered by MPO, RSMAS, or UM.
  • MPO M.S. candidates are not required to take a class outside MPO.
  • Material from the required core courses will appear on the Comprehensive Examination (along with material from other courses from the first year).
  • Grade of Master's PassPass or High Pass needed to fulfill requirement. 
  • All M.S. and Ph.D. students are required to take the Comprehensive Examination. For full-time students, the Comprehensive Examination should be before the end of their first year of graduate studies at RSMAS. This examination will be arranged by a Comprehensive Examination Committee which comprises the MPO Graduate Program Director and the instructors (or their assignees) of the first year courses taken by the students.
  • The purpose of this examination is to evaluate students' understanding of materials in the courses completed up to the time of the examination and their capability of integrating these materials, and to determine whether the students are permitted to proceed to the M.S. or Ph.D. program.
  • The Comprehensive Examination will consist of an oral part and a written part.
    • The written part, which lasts no longer than 8 hours, consists of closed-book questions in the courses taken in the first year by each individual student. Each student must choose to answer four questions; at least one of the questions from GFD I and II must be answered.
    • The oral part, which lasts no longer than 2 hours for each student, may include questions from all the courses taken by the student.
  • The GPA comprises 20% of the Comprehensive Exam grade, and the written and oral parts of the Comprehensive Exams comprise 40% each.
  • A student's performance in this examination, together with his/her cumulative grade point average, will determine whether the grade of High PassPassMaster’s Pass or Fail is given by the Comprehensive Exam Committee. The examining board consists of faculty whose questions are answered by the student and any other RSMAS faculty who wish to participate.
    • High Pass: for students with no identifiable relevant weaknesses.
    • Pass: Students and advisors will receive feedback from the Comprehensive Exam committee on the strengths and weaknesses of the student, and possible recommendations of how to address those. This information can be used to help plan the next steps in the student’s academic career.
      • NOTE: This is a new category where a student is NOT required to defend a Master’s thesis as was the case previously, but the student and advisor may of course still decide that a Masters in the appropriate next step.
    • Master's Pass: Students with this result will be required to defend a Master’s thesis before considering whether to pursue a Ph.D. Students and advisors will receive feedback from the Comprehensive Exam committee on the strengths and weaknesses of the student, and possible recommendations of how to address those.
    • Fail: Students with this result will have an opportunity to re-take the exam once.
  • Attendance to the MPO seminars is required every semester.  
  • MPO M.S. students must give at least one 15- minute presentation each year after the Comprehensive Examination.