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
  • A statement of purpose
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are NOT required

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

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 quarter only. 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.
Prerequisite 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  
Program 45 credits minimum including:
  • BIOL 520 - Essentials for Biology Graduate Studies (3)
  • BIOL 521 - Introduction to Biology Research (1)
  • BIOL 522 - Research Proposal Development + Writing (4)
  • BIOL 523 - Research Presentation (1)
  • BIOL 526 - Research Ethics in Graduate Studies (1)
  • BIOL 690 - Thesis Research (1-12)
  • Written thesis
  • Departmental seminar and a final oral examination by the thesis committee
45 credits minimum including:
  • ESCI 501 - Research in Environmental Science (3)
  • BIOL 521 - Introduction to Biology Research (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 intending to apply to Environmental Sciences and Biology, please contact the WWU Graduate School office prior to submitting the second application and you will be provided with an application fee waiver code you can use to avoid paying multiple application fees. You only need submit only one set of transcripts. 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.