Welcome to RIPTIDES!

SF State’s Research Intensive Pedagogical Training of InterDisciplinary Estuarine Scientists (RIPTIDES) program is a new innovative graduate training program based at the Estuary & Ocean Science (EOS) Center. Funded by a National Science Foundation Research Trainee (NRT) award, RIPTIDES graduates earn a Master of Science (MS) degree in Interdisciplinary Marine and Estuarine Science (IMES). We invite you to become a skilled scientist with the ability to work across traditional boundaries. Many of the environmental problems we confront today in the coastal zone and at sea involve much more than science, they are interdisciplinary in nature. In addition to science, they may involve law, governance, ethics, public health, environmental and social justice, economics and more. Cultivating strong communication, collaboration and leadership skills are becoming increasingly important to working scientists and other professionals. We need to be able to work well together in teams with a diversity of skills and perspectives to successfully address the complex environmental problems of the coastal zone. RIPTIDES will help you cultivate these skills, in parallel with your scientific skills. The RIPTIDES MS program combines coursework, an interdisciplinary research experience and a professional internship to graduate MS students adept at working at the interface of science and society. The Interdisciplinary Marine and Estuarine Sciences MS program requires 2-3 years of full-time study, including the summer bridge semesters in years one and two. Students conducting field-based ecological research typically require 2.5 to 3 years to complete their degree. Most, but not all, courses required for the MS degree are offered at the Estuary and Ocean Science Center on the Romberg Tiburon Campus, 3150 Paradise Drive, Tiburon, CA. Some courses may only be offered at SF State’s city campus, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA. Students should plan on taking required coursework on both campuses.

$34,000 Fellowship Opportunity

All students accepted into the RIPTIDES MS program will be eligible for a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) fellowship award during their second year. For each cohort admitted into the program ten (10) students will be awarded NRT fellowships with a full support package of $34,000 plus full in-state SF State tuition during the second year of the program. Fellowship awards will be announced upon acceptance into the program, but are contingent upon students meeting academic benchmarks during their first year, including maintaining a minimum GPA of 3.5, and completing a research prospectus acceptable to the student's MS Committee. RIPTIDES students without NRT fellowships and first-year fellows may also be supported by individual faculty members' research grants and departmental teaching assistantships. Note: NRT Fellows are prohibited from receiving any other sources of income during the 12 month period of the fellowship regardless of the source or type of income (e.g. no salaries, fellowships, scholarships, grants, stipends, loans, jobs, etc). The focus of the NRT Fellowships is to supply student funding to a level of sufficiency that allows them to solely focus on their research during the second year.

Program Elements

  1. Courses and workshops integrated to provide a comprehensive overview of global change impacts on urbanized coastal areas, as well as professional and communication skills; 
  2. A professional internship with a policy, management or public education organization so that students experience firsthand how organizations outside of academia use scientific information;
  3. An independent research project on a topic germane to the research fields that form the intellectual core of RIPTIDES participating faculty;
  4. A teaching experience through a teaching assistantship (or another approved teaching experience); and
  5. Dedicated advising sessions and established benchmarks throughout the program to support student success and professional development. 

Program Timeline


Our mission is to provide MS in Interdisciplinary Marine and Estuarine Science (IMES) students an education with training towards interdisciplinary understanding of the complex interactions between global change, urbanized coastal areas and ecosystem function, training in the practice and conduct of original research, training in professional skills (e.g., data skills, professional communication, writing), development of soft skills (e.g., teamwork, science communication to the public), and practical exposure to career avenues for students with advanced degrees. Our mission is to increase the diversity of students in our program relative to comparable programs (e.g., other CoSE graduate programs, other marine and estuarine science programs nationally), to increase program completion rates, and to decrease time to graduation. We will work with an external evaluator to assess the success of our students and our program relative to comparable programs. Finally, our mission is to be broadly inclusive of faculty from across the College as well as the University to increase the depth of interdisciplinarity represented and to build new intellectual connections, strengthening our institution. We meet our mission through incorporation of the following elements: · A team taught graduate “intensive” course in the first semester that focuses on interdisciplinary problems in marine and estuarine science. · Structured writing courses and professional and soft skills workshops during each of the first four semesters · A professional internship · Structured evaluation of students at 5 timepoints: end of semester 1, end of semester 2, end of first summer, end of semester 3 and end of program (semester 4, 5 or beyond). · A strong and structured cohort experience for students · Encouragement of interdisciplinary collaborative research projects. · External evaluation · Advisory Board The National Science Foundation Research Trainee RIPTIDES project is a 5-6 year grant, which is an appropriate timeframe for achieving or re-evaluating and revising our mission. While the MS in IMES is intended to succeed beyond the lifetime of the grant, aspects of the program including the funds available for project management, student support and external evaluation are likely to change. Thus, a final aspect of the mission will be to work to develop additional strategies for student support, management and evaluation in order to sustain the success of our program.