PhD in Integrated Coastal Sciences

A PhD program to protect and maintain vital coastal systems

Around the globe, coastlines are rapidly changing and creating complex problems for thousands of coastal communities. The solutions to many of these problems require a multidisciplinary approach. If you’re passionate about solving these problems, then the PhD in Integrated Coastal Sciences at East Carolina University is for you. The program will give you the expertise to solve both today’s and tomorrow’s coastal problems.

The curriculum and your associated dissertation research will prepare you to excel in a variety of professional settings, including private firms, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions.

An interdisciplinary approach to solve complex coastal problems

Whether you have a degree in natural, health, or social sciences, you’ll find many ways to apply your unique knowledge and perspective to studying and protecting coastal environmental systems throughout the world. Our faculty foster students’ multidisciplinary interests through structured yet flexible classroom and field experiences.

The freedom and flexibility of our program will help you develop your own identity as an expert in coastal systems, ultimately creating a doctoral dissertation that is uniquely you.

Why study Integrated Coastal Sciences at ECU?

Earning a PhD in Integrated Coastal Sciences from ECU will provide you with a unique cross-disciplinary educational experience so that you are ready to approach coastal environmental science issues from several informed angles.

Diverse faculty

Our small class sizes will let you work closely with highly distinguished faculty who have years of experience as field researchers and educators. Their backgrounds represent the interdisciplinarity of our program, ranging across natural, health, and social sciences and engineering. Our talented faculty make us a truly integrated coastal sciences program.

Real-world experience

ECU presents an ideal coastal venue to study marine and coastal science.  Our courses integrate coastal field work, nationally and globally, with state-of-the-art laboratory and social science-based research to master the latest theories and methods of coastal system scientific inquiry.

Custom concentrations

Because the field of coastal environmental science is so vast and offers many career paths, we offer specialized concentrations so you can tailor your study of coastal environmental science to your career goals. Choose between natural sciences and engineering, economics, health sciences, or social sciences and be prepared to add your own perspective to the study of coastal environmental issues.

Courses you will take in the Integrated Coastal Sciences PhD program

Regardless of your chosen concentration, you’ll begin your study with fundamental courses in coastal environmental sciences that will provide the necessary background to each of the concentrations we offer. This gives all our students a universal foundation upon which they can add their knowledge and skills within their concentration. You will then dive into your chosen focus within coastal environmental sciences, integrating across a primary and secondary concentration area.

Some of the courses at the core of our Integrated Coastal Sciences program include:

  • Coastal and Marine Economics and Policy
  • Coastal Ecological Processes
  • Coastal Geosciences
  • Fundamentals of Environmental Health
  • Integrative Problem Solving in Coastal Sciences

Curriculum and Coursework

Hear from our Integrated Coastal Sciences students

“I think the main strengths of the program are the mentors. Most of the professors involved with Integrated Coastal Sciences are incredibly helpful and willing to work with you if you show enough interest besides a willingness to work hard.”

What can you do with your PhD in Integrated Coastal Sciences?

There’s an unprecedented need for professionals across industries and countries to work together to solve the many coastal environmental issues we face today. ECU’s Integrated Coastal Sciences PhD stands out from others, thanks in large part to its commitment to pulling from separate disciplines to study and solve coastal system problems on multiple levels.

Master essential skills while studying coastal systems

As you progress through the program and study marine and coastal science through different lenses, you will develop and strengthen skills such as:

  • Acquiring, interpreting, and synthesizing marine and coastal science data
  • Communicating your findings effectively across multiple channels—including presentations, written reports, and peer-reviewed articles
  • Collaborating with other researchers from disparate disciplines and backgrounds to study and protect coastal environmental habitats

Where are integrated coastal sciences graduates working?

When you graduate from our Integrated Coastal Sciences PhD program, you’ll be prepared to work in a broad range of industries and professional settings, including universities, federal and state agencies, private consulting companies, and NGOs.

Among the graduates of this program, 95% find rewarding jobs after graduation in marine and coastal science fields.

With a PhD in Integrated Coastal Sciences from ECU, you’ll not only enjoy a meaningful career doing what you love, but also benefit from a high salary potential. Professionals with a PhD in marine and coastal science earn an average annual salary of $80,000, according to

Get started on your PhD in Integrated Coastal Sciences

Take the next step toward earning your PhD and studying coastal systems around the world. Want to learn more about how you can use your experience and education to help preserve coastal environmental systems and save lives? We have the resources to answer all your questions and help you get started.

Degree programs related to integrated coastal sciences

If you’re considering earning a PhD in Integrated Coastal Sciences, you may also be interested in learning more about this similar program at East Carolina University:

Additional Program Information and Resources

Fall 2024 Application Deadline JANUARY 15, 2024