PhD in Oceanography & Coastal Sciences

Our Oceanography PhD program

We are always seeking highly motivated and qualified students for our doctoral program. If you are interested in Oceanography or Wetland Sciences, we would love to hear from you.

Scroll down for program requirements.


All applicants should have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 and meet all LSU Graduate School Admissions requirements.


All PhD students are required to have successfully completed  Calculus I and Calculus II with a grade of C or better. If you have not completed them by time of enrollment, you will be required to do so during your first year. However, it is advisable to have at least the first calculus course completed prior to enrollment.

This requirement can be met by taking MATH 1550 (Analytical Geometry and Calculus I) and MATH 1552 (Analytical Geometry and Calculus II). For a course at another university to count as equivalent to LSU's MATH 1550, it should cover limits, differentiation, and integration, not only for algebraic functions, but also for exponential and trigonometric functions. Math 1554 (Calculus II for Life Sciences) may be substituted from Math 1552 with prior committee approval.

For PhD students, who have not completed Calculus II by the time of enrollment another quantitative focused course taken during their first year at LSU may be substituted for Calculus II with prior approval of their advisory committee (including but not limited to courses in math, statistics, modeling, computer sciences, etc.). A student may register for those courses on a pass-fail basis with approval of the student's major professor, department chair, instructor of the course involved, and the dean of the Graduate School. The instructor will determine actual quality of work required to obtain a grade of "P".

Two semesters of introductory biology for sciences majors courses, equivalent to LSU BIOL 1201 and 1202, completed with a C or better.

Two chemistry courses equivalent to LSU CHEM 1201 and 1202, with a C or better.

One semester introductory course, with a C or better.

One semester introductory course, with a C or better.



The following course substitutions are allowed if prerequisites are not completed prior to LSU enrollment. Students deficient in one prerequisite subject (biology, chemistry, geology, or physics) will be required to register and complete LSU OCS 1005 (Introduction to Oceanography). Students deficient in 2 or more subject areas will be required to register and complete LSU OCS 1005 and one of the following: LSU OCS 2007 (Introduction to Marine Sciences: Geological and Physical); or LSU OCS 2008 (Introduction to Marine Sciences: Life Processes); or LSU OCS 3103 (Global Environmental Cycles), all with grades of “C” or better or on pass-fail basis. Selection of OCS 2007, or OCS 2008, or OCS 3103 will be based upon the student’s major professor’s recommendation and approval of the DOCS Graduate Advisor.


DOCS Pre-Application

All prospective PhD students are required to fill out a DOCS graduate program pre-application, using the online, Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF forms located to the right. If you use the Word or PDF form to complete your pre-application, email the completed form to with the email subject "DOCS pre-app." You will receive a quick reply and may be asked to submit a full application to the LSU Graduate School. 

If you would like to have your credentials pre-evaluated send your pre-application (MS Word version or PDF version) directly to Dr. Mark Benfield, DOCS Graduate Advisor, for review and assessment.  

If you need additional information, are having trouble with the pre-application, or have further questions, please contact us at

Program Requirements

You must complete at least 48 hours of course work beyond a Bachelor's. You will need to

  • Meet all core requirements
  • Complete 9 hours of dissertation research
  • Have at least half of your credits at the 7000 level or above.

You must also complete a minor requirement. This requirement can be met in one of two ways.

  1. Other departments offer “official” minors that are satisfied by successfully completing a specific number or set of courses within the offerings of that department. This is usually a total of 12 semester hours. For the official minor, the student must have a professor from the outside department as a member of the committee to represent the minor area.
  2. Complete a course plan (12 hours at the 4000 level or above, at least 6 of these hours must be at the 7000 level) in an “area of specialization” and the courses must be approved by the student’s committee. The courses must be from outside of OCS offerings, though they may be taken from more than one department.

Program of Study

The report of the Diagnostic Qualifying Assessment, a “Program of Study,” contains a list of completed graduate-level courses, and a list of proposed courses approved by your committee. This is a contract between you and your committee. To be of much value, a proposed program should include tentative dates or milestones and a tentative research prospectus. “Each doctoral student develops a program of study acceptable to the Departmental Graduate Advisory Committee.”