Marine Science M.Sc. Program

It is the responsibility of students to plan their graduate program in consultation with their academic advisor. Students are required to meet all deadlines. Students should be aware that most core courses are offered only once per year.

The Master of Science degree (M.Sc.) is awarded upon successful completion of a minimum of 36 credit hours. A minimum GPA of 3.0 must be achieved to graduate. Individual courses require a minimum of a B- for course credit. Students are expected to complete the M.Sc. degree in three semesters. Satisfactory participation in every KAUST summer session is mandatory.

The M.Sc. Requirements

  • Core courses (9 credits)
  • Elective courses (0-15 credits)
  • Research/capstone experience (12-27 credits)
  • Graduate seminar 398 (non-credit) – all students are required to register and receive a satisfactory grade for three semesters during their M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees (three seminars in each program)
  • Completion of one Winter Enrichment Program (WEP)

Core Courses (9 credits)

B 204Genomics


B 211Fundamentals of Molecular Microbiology


MarS 221Marine Life


MarS 323Pelagic Ecology


MarS 335Oceanography


Choose at least 1 of 3 for B 204, B 211, and MARS 323.

MARS 221 and MARS 335 are mandatory. 

These core courses are designed to provide students with the background needed to establish a solid foundation in the program area.

Elective Courses (0-15 credits)

MarS 319Movement Ecology


MarS 326Coral Reef Ecology


MarS 329Marine Microbial Ecology


MarS 330Marine Ecological Genomics


MarS 332Optical Oceanography


Others upon approval of the academic advisor

The elective courses (which exclude research and internship credits) are designed to allow students to tailor their educational experience to meet individual research and educational objectives, with the permission of the academic advisor.

M.Sc. Thesis

All students in the MarS program are expected to pursue a thesis. To that end, they must complete a total of 12-27 research/capstone credits, with a minimum of 12 credits of thesis research (297).

Students must complete the remaining credits through one or a combination of the options listed below:

  • Broadening experience courses: courses that broaden the M.Sc. experience
  • Internship: research-based summer internship (295) – students are only allowed to take one internship
  • Ph.D. courses: courses numbered at the 300 level
  • Additional directed research

The thesis defense committee, which must be approved by the dean, must consist of at least three members and typically includes no more than four members. At least two of the required members must be KAUST faculty. The chair plus one additional faculty member must be affiliated with the student’s program. This membership can be summarized as:

Member Role Program Status
1 Chair Within program
2 Faculty Within program
3 Faculty or approved research scientist Outside program
4 Additional faculty or research scientist Inside or outside KAUST


  • Members 1-3 are required, member 4 is optional
  • Co-chairs may serve as member 2, 3, or 4, but may not be a research scientist
  • Members 2 and 3 must use primary affiliation only
  • Adjunct professors and professors emeriti may retain their roles on current committees, but may not serve as chair on any new committees
  • Professors of practice and research professors may serve as members 2, 3 or 4 depending upon their affiliation with the student’s program, they may also serve as co-chairs
  • Visiting professors may serve as member 4

View a list of faculty and their affiliations here.