Welcome to the Interdisciplinary Marine & Estuarine Sciences Master of Science Program!

The Interdisciplinary Marine & Estuarine Sciences (IMES) Master of Science (M.S.) program originated from a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) grant awarded to SFSU in 2016.  The NRT grant allowed SFSU to create lasting change to the Univeristy's graduate training pathway with an interdisciplinary graduate program called the Research Intensive Pedagogical Training of InterDisciplinary Estuarine Scientists (RIPTIDES) program.  Although the RIPTIDES program has now arrived at the end of the grant period, we have continued its mission by creating the IMES graduate program, an innovative interdisciplinary M.S. program based at SF State's marine research lab on the bay; the Estuary & Ocean Science (EOS) Center

Solving environmental problems of the coastal zone requires interdisciplinary skills and approaches. Researchers in the marine and estuarine sciences are collaborating with social scientists, government agencies, environmental and community planners, environmental lawyers, public health officials, natural resource managers, environmental and social justice advocates, economists, and other professionals to solve complex environmental problems. Graduates of the IMES program are skilled scientists who appreciate the value of looking at a problem through different disciplinary lenses, can integrate the approaches of several disciplines and are adept in working in diverse teams.  

The IMES program combines coursework, an interdisciplinary research experience, a professional internship* and co-curricular workshops to support students in developing their technical and professional skills. These skills prepare students for a variety of career pathways, including preparing them to pursue a PhD. The IMES is a 2-3 year program of full-time study. The length of the program depends on the type of research thesis project the student decides to pursue and their prior preparation. 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.


*internship opportunity scope subject to change depending on program funding



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, interdisciplinary research project germane to the research fields that form the intellectual core of IMES 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 train IMES MS students in the interdisciplinary nature of problems related to global change, urbanized coastal areas and societal concerns, to conduct original scientific research, and to acquire professional skills (written and oral communication for diverse audiences, teamwork, project management, leadership) to prepare them for careers in environmental and marine sciences. We aim to create an inclusive and equitable program for a diverse student population that enhances successful program completion and decrease time to graduation. We also invite and welcome particiaption of faculty from across SF State who are interested in our interdsiciplinary research and education themes to join the program. We work with an external evaluator and an external group of advisors to assess the success of our program and make improvments as needed. 


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number DGE # 1633336. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.