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Five College Coastal and Marine Sciences Certificate

Contact: Program Coordinator
Office: 109 Bass Hall, Smith College
Phone: (413) 585-3799

The Program

The Five College Coastal and Marine Sciences (FCC&MS) Certificate enables students to select from a variety of courses in marine sciences, including coastal and marine ecology/geology, resource management and public policy, oceanography, and coastal engineering to create a concentration of study. Smith, Mount Holyoke, and Hampshire Colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst currently award certificates. Under the guidance of faculty advisers on each campus, students choose a progressive series of courses available within the five campuses and in academic off-campus programs, such as the Sea Education Association, School for Field Studies (with coastal settings), and other approved semester-away programs. Some of these courses must have an intensive field component so that students obtain competence in field studies. Students must also participate in a “capstone” independent, marine-related research project that counts toward the Certificate. This requirement may be met by participating in one of several paid summer internships offered each year at Woods Hole and other research facilities.

Students interested in working toward the Certificate select a faculty adviser who reviews and approves their proposed program of study to ensure a strong concentration in marine sciences, as well as the necessary field experience. Advisers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are Bruce Byers (Biology), Francis Juanes (Natural Resources Conservation), and Mark Leckie (Geosciences).


1. A minimum of six courses, with at least one course in each of the following categories:
Marine biodiversity
Marine and coastal ecology
Marine geology, chemistry, and other related sciences
Resource management and public policy.

At least three of the courses must be above the introductory level.

Each student must show competency in field studies by either completing a course with a field component or by participating in an intensive Five College field course or approved semester-away program.

Students must receive a B grade or better for all courses contributing to the Certificate requirements.

2. Completion of an independent, marine-related research project through an internship, thesis, independent study or other activity acceptable to the home campus adviser.

3. Completion of the Certificate Application Form and Transcripts.
The campus program adviser submits the completed application and a transcript to the FCC&MS steering committee. After the committee certifies that a student has completed all program requirements, Five Colleges, Inc. contacts campus registrars so that the Certificate can be noted on the official transcript. Eligible students receive a certificate recognizing their achievement.

The application form and current list of approved courses can be downloaded at