Marine Policy

The Masters Program in Marine Policy was founded on the idea that the effective application of marine policy requires practitioners, first, to be fluent in the languages and concepts of both the social and natural sciences, and second, to be able to translate those languages to, and for, users of the resource. As a consequence, the design of a student’s program is flexible and adapted to her or his previous background and work experience.

The Master of Science degree in Marine Policy in the School of Marine Sciences is designed to take advantage of the strong interdisciplinary nature of the School. The program is intended for students interested in the application of science and policy. It is intended as a terminal degree but does not rule out continuation to a Ph.D. The course of study is two years.

All students in the program will receive training in the social science aspects of marine resource management, in marine sciences, and in empirical methods. In addition, students will be expected to gain expertise in either living natural resources or coastal zone management.  The program offers both a thesis and a non-thesis option.   For more degree requirements, consult the Handbook for Graduate Programs.


Degree requirements

A total of 30 credit hours, consisting of 24 hours of course credits and 6 credit hours for thesis/internship, are required to complete the M.S. in Marine Policy.

Six credit hours of required coursework

The following two courses are required and must be taken by each student in the program:

  • SMS 552 Coupled Natural & Human Systems (3 credit hours), and
  • SMS 567 Knowledge and Participation in the Science Policy Process (3 credit hours)


Six credit hours for thesis/internship

The program offers both a thesis and a non-thesis option.

Students selecting the thesis option take SMS 699 – Graduate Thesis (6 credit hours) and will write a master’s thesis that combines theoretical work and research applied to pressing problems. A student’s advisory committee must approve a thesis plan in the second semester of the student’s enrollment in the program.

Students selecting the non-thesis option take SMS 683 – Internship in Marine Policy (6 credit hours) and will undertake an internship with a government agency, a non-governmental organization in the marine area, or a private firm directly concerned with management of marine natural resources or coastal zone management. An internship involves working for the equivalent of three months, full time with the organization. Students in internships write a final paper linking their internship experience with the theoretical and practical literature. A student’s advisory committee must approve internship plans prior to beginning the internship.

Eighteen credit hours of elective coursework

The program is designed to give students as much flexibility as possible so that they can take advantage of the various faculty specialties available to them within the School of Marine Sciences and elsewhere in the University.  A student and his or her advisory committee can draw upon a large variety of courses both within SMS and elsewhere at UMaine when designing a program of study. Students will usually take all of their courses at the University of Maine either on the Orono campus or at the Darling Marine Center, but courses taken at the University of Maine School of Law (in Portland) or elsewhere may be credited toward the degree.

Courses available to students

The list below is intended to be illustrative of the courses available to students in the program. The list is illustrative only; other courses are not  precluded.

Course Number Course Name
ANT 550 Anthropology Dimensions of Environmental Policy
ANT 553 Inst. and Management Common Pool Resources
ANT 555 Resource Management – Cross Cultural Perspective
ANT 597 Ecological Anthropology
ECO 420 Intermediate Microeconomics
ECO 477 Economics of Environmental and Resource Management
ECO 581 Socio-ecological Systems Modeling
INT 563 Marine Benthic Ecology
SIE 510 Geographic Information Systems Applications
SMS 513 Broadening the Impacts of Research
SMS 598 Coastal and Marine Resource Management
SMS 552 Coupled Natural and Human Systems
SMS 557 Coast Practices and Coastal Zone Management
SMS 562 Fisheries Population Dynamics
SMS 567 Knowledge & Part in the Science Policy Process
SMS 597 Independent Study
SMS 598 Special Topics
SMS 598 Coastal and Marine Law

Program Coordinator

Teresa Johnson
Associate Professor
Office: 200 Libby Hall Orono, ME  04469