Our uniquely inclusive program brings together students with wide-ranging personal and professional experiences.

Is this program for you?

Whether you're looking for a master's degree to round out your ocean conservation knowledge and experience, to pivot from another career, to make yourself more marketable to new employers, or to launch to the next level in your existing career, the Master of Advanced Studies Program in Marine Biodiversity & Conservation (MAS MBC Program) could be right for you.


Photo: Kat Montgomery ('19)


Photo: Carly Shabo ('19)


We see differences in lived experience, perspective and professional background as experiential assets that support robust discussion, critical thinking and enhanced innovation. We are especially interested in candidates from underrepresented and historically marginalized communities.

Our Program welcomes candidates with diverse and varied professional backgrounds in the private and public sectors and non-governmental organizations. Our average incoming student has seven years of work experience and the Program is most appropriate for applicants with at least three years of experience in science, resource management, fishing, education, outreach, advocacy, organizing, economics, policy, law, journalism, military training, art, or communication. 


First created in 2004, the MAS MBC Program is a long-standing, well-established and reputable interdisciplinary graduate program with a proven track record of career placement and alumni leadership in the ocean conservation field. 

Our 50-unit degree program requires the same number of units as other master's degree programs, but is concentrated to only the most valuable and marketable content students need to propel them to the next step of their careers. Because the Program is 12 intensive months, it is well suited for those who want to minimize time spent away from earning income in the workforce. 

The accelerated MAS MBC Program differs from a two-year Master of Science (M.S.) degree in that it is intentionally interdisciplinary, project-based, and designed to propel graduates into a broad array of employment sectors right out of school


Photo: Hillary Eggers ('18)


Photo: Hillary Eggers ('18)


Scientific research is incredibly important for marine conservation. And yet without also understanding the impacts of economics, policies, communities, and colonization involved on our global ocean challenges, we cannot craft effective solutions. The MAS MBC Program weaves these disciplines together with a focused emphasis on science communication, to ensure that our research and findings are understandable and accessible for decision-makers.

As presidents, officers, directors, founders, scientists, analysts, specialists, consultants, communicators, educators, filmmakers and attorneys, our alumni are changing the way the world understands and manages our coastal and ocean resources.


We use a cohort-based model that brings together no more than 25 students, who lean on one another, teach each other, and push each other to grow over the course of their 12 months together. 

Students individually customize their experience with 16 elective units of their choosing, specializing in content and training that will support their individual career goals. Students learn R programming, become skilled with GIS software or MatLab, train as scientific divers, develop and hone filmmaking skills, create StoryMaps and dashboards, volunteer in labs, and much, much more. These skills-based focus areas complement elective coursework in classes like: Cost Benefit Analysis, Economics of Ocean Resources, Biological Oceanography, Phycology, Introduction to Maritime Archaeology, Bycatch: Problems and Solutions, Deep Sea Biology, Ice and the Climate System, Social Entrepreneurship, Decolonizing Global Health, as well as many more.

Students choose their own advisors from an infinite pool of world-renowned academic experts and community leaders in San Diego, California, the U.S. and abroad. They leverage the expertise and mentorship of these advisors to create an interdisciplinary Capstone Project that accomplishes students' unique, targeted professional goals. 


Photo: Risa Farrell


Photo: Erik Jepsen


Our students, staff and faculty are immediately adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, multiple state marine protected areas, NOAA fisheries scientists and the Birch Aquarium, with countless snorkeling, diving, fishing and surf spots just a stone's throw away. Indeed, the MAS MBC Program is geographically situated to inspire and educate students in an unparalleled manner.