The program has a diverse faculty representing the major oceanographic disciplines: physical, biological, and chemical oceanography; geology and geophysics; and engineering. The majority of faculty are members of the Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences (IEOAS) that unites researchers, educators, and graduate students studying Earth's interior, continents, oceans, atmosphere, and biosphere.
The master of science (M.S.) and doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees are offered in physical oceanography, biological oceanography, chemical oceanography, and marine geology. Applicants are required to demonstrate a commitment to interdisciplinary studies, including study of the physical and dynamical behavior of ocean systems. Applicants to the physical oceanography sequence are expected to hold an undergraduate degree in mathematics, physical science, or engineering. They also must have completed two years of calculus (through differential equations) and one year each of physics and chemistry. Applicants in biological oceanography are expected to hold an undergraduate degree in one of the biological sciences and have successfully completed courses (one year each) in calculus, physics, general chemistry, and organic chemistry. Applicants in chemical oceanography are expected to hold an undergraduate degree in chemistry and have successfully completed courses (one year each) in calculus, physics, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry.
The Ph.D. requires a minimum of 72 credits of work beyond the bachelor's degree, including a minimum of 42 credits of Ph.D. thesis research. Qualifying examinations for the doctorate include written and oral components. A typical program of coursework includes graduate-level courses within the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences and related courses offered by other graduate programs, such as ecology and evolution, environmental sciences, mechanical and aerospace engineering, and atmospheric sciences.
Research opportunities are available in a range of marine and coastal topics, including applied genetics and evolution, biogeochemistry, bottom boundary-layer studies, coastal processes, community ecology, ecosystem-level studies, larval transport and recruitment, marine genetics, nutrient cycling, observing systems and operational oceanography, ocean modeling, physical oceanography, population biology, remote sensing, systematics, fish biology, and fisheries oceanography.
The Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences research building in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences includes a seawater flume, morphometrics, molecular biology, remote-sensing, and ocean modeling laboratories. Department faculty and students have access to novel ocean-observing system facilities including a satellite receiving station, a regional set of high-frequency coastal radars, a growing fleet of gliders and autonomous vehicles, and multiprocessor parallel computing clusters.
In addition to the central facility at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, research opportunities are provided at three field stations. One of these, the Rutgers University Marine Field Station (RUMFS) is a field facility of the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences. It is a working lab with graduate- and postdoctoral-level research ongoing year-round, and undergraduate research in the summer. RUMFS is uniquely situated near the Little Egg Inlet in the Mullica River-Great Bay estuary, one of the least impacted estuaries on the U.S. East Coast. The year-round access to high-quality, high-salinity water makes RUMFS an ideal location for the spawning, culture, and study of marine and estuarine fishes and invertebrates and their habitats. In recognition of the unique status of this estuarine system, including a portion of the adjacent continental shelf, RUMFS has been designated as the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve System. In addition, the location of RUMFS provides immediate access to the adjacent Atlantic Ocean and the Long-Term Ecosystem Observatory (LEO). This site has been the focus of multidisciplinary studies that integrate physical, chemical, geological, and biological approaches to the study of seasonal (e.g., upwellings and hypoxia), low-frequency (e.g., major storms), and aperiodic events.
The Rutgers University Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory (HSRL) consists of four locations on the Delaware Bay and in Cape May: a laboratory facility at Bivalve, a shellfish hatchery/field station at Cape Shore, a commercial-scale aquaculture innovation center in north Cape May, and a fisheries outreach station in Cape May. HSRL provides ready access to coastal and estuarine habitats, as well as the commercial and recreational fishing and aquaculture industries of the mid-Atlantic. Research areas include microbiology, shellfish pathology, estuarine ecology, shellfish physiology, shellfish genetics and breeding biotechnology, fisheries oceanography and fisheries management, population dynamics and ecology, and aquaculture.