University of South Carolina College of Arts & Sciences Marine Science Program School of the Earth, Ocean and Environment



Marine Science Program University of South Carolina 712 Main Street, PSC 108, Columbia, SC 29208

Send Mail to: 701 Sumter Street, EWS 617 Columbia, SC 29208, USA

Phone: 803.777.2692     Fax: 803.777.6610

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Research Opportunities


USC Marine Science Undergraduate Research Opportunities

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Undergraduates routinely participate in faculty and graduate student research, along with numerous undergraduate field education projects at a variety of sites in coastal South Carolina and bordering states. Many of our undergraduate researchers have their work published in scientific journals and are listed as co-authors. Our students also have the opportunity to present their research at national meetings as well as at Discovery Day, an annual event for undergraduates at USC in any and all disciplines to present their research and scholarship through poster presentations, and online on MarSci, an inter-institutional venue for publishing undergraduate research manuscripts pertaining to the marine and aquatic sciences

A number of our faculty conduct research on UNOLS and NOAA supported research vessels, providing students opportunities for "at-sea" research experience. The University also supports the 19,000 square-foot Belle W. Baruch Marine Field Laboratory at Hobcaw Barony adjacent to Winyah Bay SC. This National Estuarine Research Reserve presently has a full-time staff of 25 research associates and technicians. In addition to the laboratory, there are living quarters and a conference center located at Hobcaw Barony.

The Marine Science Program fosters undergraduate student involvement in research; opportunities to do field and laboratory studies through the following programs:

  • Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (URAP). A volunteer program where undergraduate students assist faculty and graduate students in their research. The undergraduates receive hands-on experience in the laboratory and participate in ongoing research projects.

  • Undergraduate Student Assistants. In addition to volunteer helpers, most Marine Science faculty employ undergraduate students to assist in their research. These are paid from research grants and are usually students who have previously worked in the URAP program.

  • Independent Study Projects (MSCI 399). A student, under the direction of a faculty instructor, plans, proposes and executes a research project, receiving one to six credit hours (usually major credit) toward the B.S. degree. An Independent Study project often results in publications with the undergraduate student listed as an author.

  • Senior Seminar (MSCI 505). A one credit course, required for all Marine Science majors, usually taken in the senior year. Students do library research on a group research project, and prepare presentations on the project.

  • Honors Thesis Projects. Marine Science seniors who are in the South Carolina Honors College do research projects under the direction of faculty instructors. At the completion of the projects, students write and defend a thesis of their research.

  • Additional Opportunities. Our students often participate in oceanographic cruises, participate in at the Belle W. Baruch Marine Field Lab and other marine institutions, find part- or full-time jobs on or off campus in private companies or government agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Year-round internships (volunteer) are available at the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia. The Marine Science Program maintains a bulletin board listing these opportunities.

The University of South Carolina offers research funding for qualified students through the Magellan Scholar Program.

Magellan Scholars receive up to $3,000 to fund their research project. This program is open to all disciplines and Marine Science students are strongly encouraged to apply. Selection is based on the project's educational and intellectual merit, the potential impact of the project, and the student's previous academic success.

We strongly encourage our undergraduates to participate in research experiences at other Universities and Research Programs as well. Many of these programs are offered during the summer and are highly competitive. However, almost all provide a stipend and include room and board. These opportunities allow our students to broaden their research perspectives and to examine other institutions where they may want to continue graduate level education in the future.

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