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 MPA 505 Policy Analysis and MPA 501 Quantitative Analysis during a subsequent semester.
  • MCOP 501 and MCOP 502 are offered on alternating Fall semesters.

Year 1

Fall Spring

MCOP 502 or MCOP 501

EVS 585 Environmental Economics

MPA 505 Policy Analysis

MPA 501 Quantitative Methods


Elective* Elective


6 Credits of Coursework OR Internship OR Combination of the two

Year 2

Fall Spring

MCOP 502 or MCOP 501

MPA 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 (see incomplete list below). Check SeaNet for class schedule.

BIO 564 - Biological Oceanography Credit Hours: 3
BIO 560 - Estuarine Biology Credit Hours: 4
CHM 579 - Role of the Oceans in Human Health Credit Hours: 3
EVS 572 - Coastal Protected Areas Management Credit Hours: 3
EVS 577 - Environmental Site Assessment Credit Hours: 3
EVS 582 - Science and Technology of Marine Environment Credit Hours: 3
GGY 522 - Remote Sensing in Environmental Analysis Credit Hours: 3
GGY 526 - Environmental Geographic Information Systems Credit Hours: 3
GLY 520 - Global Climate Change Credit Hours: 3
GLY 550 - Marine Geology Credit Hours: 3
GLY 558 - Introduction to Coastal Management Credit Hours: 4
GGY 520 - Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems Credit Hours: 3
MCOP 511 - Coastal and Ocean Law Credit Hours: 3
MCOP 528 - North Carolina Coastal Issues and Experiences Credit Hours: 3
MPA 506 - Program Evaluation Credit Hours: 3
MPA 507 - Applied Management Tools, Skills, and Techniques Credit Hours: 3
MPA 509 - Leading Public and Nonprofit Organizations Credit Hours: 3
MPA 513 - Regional Planning Politics and Policy Credit Hours: 3
MPA 514 - Conflict Resolution Credit Hours: 3
MPA 517 - Strategic Planning and Management for Public and Non-Profit Organizations Credit Hours: 3
MPA 527 - Planning Theory and Planning Law Credit Hours: 3
MPA 541 - Public Economics and Cost-Benefit Analysis Credit Hours: 3

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.