Coastal Science and Policy PhD Designated Emphasis


The goal of the Coastal Science and Policy (CSP) program is to train future leaders in the science and policy of coastal sustainability in order to propel sustainable use of coastal resources and conservation of coastal biodiversity, ecosystems, socio-economic integrity, and ecological services. The training also aims to help advance justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in coastal sustainability. A CSP designated emphasis (DE) will serve Ph.D. students who desire to strengthen their ability to directly connect their science to actionable solutions in collaboration with practitioner organizations. 

Students obtaining a DE in Coastal Science and Policy, will develop a range of skills, interdisciplinary knowledge, and trans-disciplinary approaches pertinent to creating real-world solutions to current and emerging concerns for coastal sustainability. 

Preparation for Designated Emphasis in Coastal Science and Policy

To receive a designated emphasis in Coastal Science and Policy, graduate students must complete the following requirements in addition to the degree requirements for the doctorate in their home department:


Ph.D. students will ideally apply for the CSP DE during their first year and complete a minimum of three CSP courses (15 credits) prior to proceeding to Ph.D. candidacy. The DE will only be available to Ph.D. students; master’s students are not eligible.

Committee Composition and Departmental Approvals

The student must have a DE adviser from the CSP core or affiliated faculty. The DE adviser commits to serving on the Ph.D. qualifying exam committee (typically as the outside member), and the dissertation reading committee. 

The Ph.D. student’s primary faculty adviser, graduate program coordinator/adviser in the student’s home department, and CSP program must approve participation in the CSP DE. Only applications from registered students in good standing will be approved for the CSP DE.

The student must meet with their DE adviser to develop a coherent plan for meeting the requirements for the CSP DE, preferably before the end of the student’s first year. This plan must be approved by the CSP program director.

Course Requirements

Students are required to complete at least three CSP courses including two required courses (CSP 244 and CSP 245 [BIOE 262]; both offered in spring quarter).

Courses taken to fulfill program requirements within the home department will not count toward the designated emphasis program's required coursework.

CSP 244Adaptation and Planning


BIOE 262
/CSP 245
Facilitating Change in Coastal Science Policy


Additional Courses

Students work with their CSP adviser to review their academic background and select at least one and up to six additional CSP courses (minimum of five additional credits) to assure overall interdisciplinary competence in: social sciences for sustainability, economics for sustainability, natural sciences for sustainability, statistics, coastal governance, and policy analysis. Select courses from the list below: 

CSP 200Natural Sciences for Coastal Sustainability


CSP 210Social Sciences for Coastal Sustainability


CSP 220Economics for Coastal Sustainability


BIOE 286
/CSP 241
Experimental Design and Data Analysis


/CSP 241L
Experimental Design and Data Analysis Lab


ENVS 240
/CSP 242
Public Policy and Conservation


ENVS 250
/CSP 243
Coastal Governance


CSP 281AHacking for Oceans—Lean Design Methods


CSP 292Special Topics in Coastal Science and Policy


CSP 297Independent Study in Coastal Science and Policy


Writing, Research and/or Teaching Requirements

Ph.D. students must work closely with a practitioner partner (from a government, business, or non-profit entity) on one interdisciplinary dissertation chapter on a coastal sustainability issue.

In-depth interaction with the practitioner is necessary in the conceptual formation and execution of the work to be reported in the chapter (i.e., the student cannot solely receive and analyze data from the collaborating practitioner). 

The CSP program, via core courses, workshops, and mentoring by CSP faculty, provides substantial guidance on how to collaborate with partners in a manner that fits well with the dissertation research process. This requirement ensures that the student’s work will bring their knowledge to action, addresses real-world challenges and implements new, cutting-edge solutions.