M.S. in Environmental Science, Marine and Estuarine Science

Program Faculty

Graduate Program Coordinator: Ed Weber

Program Adviser: Dr David Shull, Environmental Science; Graduate Program Adviser.

Primary Research Advisers: Professors Bingham, Hatch, Kastner, Love, McPhee-Shaw, Rybczyk, Sobocinski, Sofield, and Shull.

Program Mission

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The purpose of the Marine and Estuarine Science program (MESP) is to provide a coherent program of study in coastal marine and estuarine sciences at the M.S. level. This program focuses resources of existing Master's programs in the College of the Environment and the Department of Biology. It is a research-oriented program in the marine and estuarine sciences. Human impact on coastal marine and estuarine systems cannot be properly evaluated without a scientific understanding of their fundamental physical, chemical, and biological processes. The goal of the MESP is to produce specialists qualified to study fundamental features of these systems and the relationship between natural processes and perturbations from human activity. Graduates will be qualified for entry-level positions in the profession and will be competitive in pursuit of the doctorate.

The Shannon Point Marine Center, located in Anacortes, WA, is an important facility supporting this program. The on-site Sundquist Marine Laboratory houses teaching labs and research facilities including wet laboratories supported by a running seawater system and dry laboratories suited for analytical operations, and a fleet of research vessels well suited to sampling the local marine environment.


Students participating in this program option must apply and be admitted through either the Environmental Sciences Department or the Biology Department. The application process allows students to be considered by either or both academic units.

The designation of advisers to serve as potential thesis chairs determines which unit(s) will consider an application. When an applicant indicates potential faculty advisers from only one academic unit (environmental science or biology) the completed application is forwarded only to that unit. When an applicant expresses interest in working with faculty from both units the completed application is forwarded to both Department of Environmental Sciences and the Department of Biology.

It is critical to the application process that an applicant be familiar with the research interests of the faculty. Students in both programs work with the faculty and staff at the Shannon Point Marine Center.

As of 5 October 2020, the GRE Exam is NO LONGER REQUIRED for our MS, MESPES Applications. 

Master's candidates applying for an M.S. in Environmental Science Marine and Estuarine Science Program are admitted fall quarter only and must meet the following prerequisites and requirements:


  • One year of general chemistry, one year of general biology, and one course in statistics or data analysis, or;
  • One year of general chemistry, one year of physics, two courses in calculus, one course in statistics and one additional physical science or engineering course, or;
  • Commensurate coursework as approved by proposed faculty mentor. 

Program requirements

A minimum of 45 credits are required, including:

Ten credits or less of approved 400-level course work may be included in the program. No more than four elective credits of ESCI 595 (Teaching Practicum) may be used toward the MS degree in environmental science. Each candidate should note that the department has an annual review of student progress that affects retention, in addition to the other program requirements listed here. The student will make a public presentation of the thesis research either on campus at Western Washington University or Shannon Point and will participate in an oral exam given by the thesis committee.

For further information, write or consult Ed Weber, the College of the Environment Graduate Program Specialist, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA, 360-650-3646, Ed.Weber@wwu.edu.

Specialization courses:

For a complete list of participating faculty from both academic units, their research interests and the application insert on which to designate potential faculty advisers, write to or call the Shannon Point Marine Center or visit the Marine and Estuarine Science Program homepage.

Shannon Point Marine Center
1900 Shannon Point Road
Anacortes, WA 98221
(360) 293-2188