Master of Coastal and Ocean Policy

Blue Crabs

"United States policies, programs, and activities should enhance formal and informal education about the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes and their uses to build a foundation for greater understanding and improved stewardship, and build capacity to produce future scientists, managers, and members of a dynamic and innovative workforce."

-The Executive Office of the President, The Interagency of Ocean Policy Task Force

About the Master of Coastal and Ocean Policy

The Master of Coastal and Ocean Policy program is a response to recent demands for professionals equipped to respond, navigate,and inform decisions making about coastal and ocean resources.

The program immerses students in a unique curriculum aimed at advancing technical knowledge of coastal and ocean processes and resources as well as, the tools and concepts of the policy making. Through their elective choices, students have the opportunity to more broadly consider the role of science and expertise in policy making about the coasts and oceans.

Proposed Two- Year Course Sequence

The MCOP curriculum has a three pronged approach:

  1. Core courses provide students with foundations in policy analysis and relevant scientific knowledge. In addition, students culminate their experience through a two semester sequence seminar and capstone project.
  2. Elective courses in policy (6 credit hours) and advanced science (3 credit hours) build on foundational material.
  3. Finally, students are invited to explore course offerings throughout UNCW and the broader North Carolina university system available through Distance Education to meet individual interests, goals and their Coastal and Ocean Policy elective requirement (9 credit hours).

Full time students can complete the curriculum in two years. Part-time students may take no more than 5 years to complete the curriculum.

*Note: The below course sequence is one possibility of several. Students need to consider their own unique situation and when necessary confer with Dr. Biddle or Dr. Weinkle.

  • Students entering the program in the Spring semester should take PLS 505 Policy Analysis and PLS 501 Quantitative Analysis during a subsequent semester.
  • MCOP 501 and MCOP 502 are offered on alternating Fall semesters.

Year 1

Fall Spring
MCOP 502 Topics in the Biological and Environmental Science of Coastal Issues ECN 525 Environmental Economics
PLS 505 Policy Analysis PLS 501 Quantitative Methods
Elective Elective


6 Credits of Coursework or Internship or Combination of the two

Year 2

Fall Spring
MCOP 501 Topics in the Geology, Geography and Physics of Coastal Issues PLS 543 Environmental Policy Analysis
MCOP 593 Seminar in Coastal and Ocean Policy MCOP 595 Capstone
Elective Elective

Students may choose from a wide range of electives offered by the UNCW academic community such as,

ENG 551 Studies in Professional Writing
GGY 520 Fundamentals of Geospatial Information Systems
GGY 522 Remote Sensing in Environmental Analysis
PLS 500 Managing Public and Nonprofit Organizations
PLS 503 Public Budgeting and Finance
PLS 517 Strategic Planning and Management for Public and Nonprofit Organizations
PLS 527 Planning Theory and Planning Law
EVS 530 Tropical Environmental Ecology
EVS 520 Foundations of Coastal & Environmental Management
BIO 601 Oceanography and Environmental Science
BIO 560 Estuarine Biology
CHM 579 Role of Oceans in Human Health
MCOP 592 Special Topics in Coastal and Ocean Policy (recently taught as "Science, Policy and Politics")

Please note that different electives satisfy different degree requirements.  Be sure to remain in contact with the program coordinator and academic advisor to ensure appropriate course selection and the fullfillment of degree requirements.  For additional information about approved courses and academic policies, please see the Academic Catalog.