One of SoMAS’ paramount objectives is to educate and train students to become the
next generation of marine and atmospheric scientists, environmental resource managers,
and citizens who possess a fundamental grasp of environmental issues and the choices
that society faces in handling these issues.
The first undergraduate degree offered through SoMAS was a minor in marine sciences
established in 1988. In 1992, an Oceanography and Environmental Studies track was
established in the Multidisciplinary Studies undergraduate degree program. Also in
that year, the Marine Sciences Research Center (MSRC) offered its first undergraduate
major, as the University’s Institute for Terrestrial and Planetary Atmospheres (ITPA)
was transferred to MSRC, bringing with it the Atmospheric Sciences/Meteorology BS
degree program. Over time, other undergraduate degree programs followed: a BA in Environmental
Studies (2001) and a BS in Marine Biology and a BS in Marine Vertebrate Biology (both
in 2005). The Environmental Studies major is designed for students anticipating a
non-science career but one with a strong environmental bent, e.g., environmental journalism.
The Marine Biology and Marine Vertebrate Biology degrees prepare students for a career
in the sciences or environmental management. From May 1992 through December 2008,
174 students have graduated from SoMAS with an undergraduate degree.
MSRC’s first graduate degree program, the Marine Environmental Studies Program (MESP),
authorized in April 1970 and produced its first graduate in May 1971. The MESP program
was a Masters of Science program designed for practicing professionals and recent
college graduates with varied academic backgrounds. Its curriculum offered a strongly
interdisciplinary examination of the diverse factors affecting the marine environment
and was designed to prepare students for careers in the then-rapidly expanding fields
of coastal management, environmental monitoring and protection and resource management.
During the 1975-76 academic year, MSRC conducted an internal review of the MESP program.
As a result of this review, the program name was changed to “Marine Environmental
Sciences Program” and the program’s focus was shifted more towards hard science, with
somewhat less emphasis being given to management and specific environmental problem-solving.
In April 1978, the Board of Trustees of the New York State Education Department approved
MSRC’s Ph.D. program in coastal oceanography. The following September, the program
was approved by New York Governor Hugh Carey. The Ph.D. program graduated its first
two students in December, 1981.
In 2007, as MSRC was renamed the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, our graduate
programs were re-titled to more properly reflect the unified educational experience
within the school that is offered to both marine and atmospheric science students.
At present, SoMAS offers both MS and Ph.D. degrees in Marine and Atmospheric Sciences,
with concentrations in either the marine or atmospheric sciences.
Since 1971, SoMAS graduate programs have produced 697 graduates; 574 received a MS
degree, 184 received a Ph.D. and 61 received both degrees.
The alumni profiles below highlight a few of our graduates.