Marine and Environmental Systems

Coastal Management at Florida Tech 

What is Coastal Management?

Coastal Management integrates the biological, physical, and policy sciences to plan and execute sustainable solutions for environmental challenges where land meets water.  Accordingly, the well-educated coastal manager understands both the science of contemporary issues and the socioeconomic and political complexities facing coastal areas.  With approx 2/3 of the global population living within 100 km of coasts, impacts on the water and land in narrowly concentrated corridors are magnified by the potential for sea level rise and other coastal changes.  Coastal Management is particularly applicable to emerging specialities in sustainability, one of the most rapidly growing fields in the 21st century.  Florida Tech is now leveraging our uniquely multidisciplinary expertise to offer a leading-edge Undergraduate Minor Program in Sustainability that has many direct tie-ins to coastal management.

Where will you use Coastal Management?

Governments, industry and academic institutions around the globe employ many thousands of experienced coastal managers across many specialities.  Some career areas to consider are: Coastal and Urban Planning, Disaster Preparedness & Recovery, Corporate Sustainability, Coastal Law, Wetlands Restoration, Coral Reef Management, Coastal Socioeconomics, Sustainable Tourism, Risk Management, Geographic Information System Management, and many others.   

Why Coastal Management at Florida Tech?

Qualiy of Education:  The interdisciplinary applied learning environment of the Department of Marine and Environmental Systems includes diverse faculty working in oceanography, environmental resource management, environmental sciences, and ocean engineering.  Classes and partnering between students and faculty also occur with the Dept. of Biological Sciences, the Dept. of Business and many other on-campus resources.  Many local, state, and federal agencies, businesses, universities, and NGOs have long partnership histories with DMES at Florida Tech.

Quality of Life:  In coastal East Florida, you live on the highest biodiversity coastal estuary in North America and adjacent to beach systems with some of the best fishing and surfing in the eastern United States - while at a major science and engineering university that has produced leading-edge ocean science graduates since 1966.  The Indian River Lagoon estuary system has hundreds of miles of flats where the subtropical Western Atlantic reef fauna grades into the Warm Carolinean coastal fauna - producing major overlap of species from two coastal climatic regimes.  Seagrasses, mangroves and marshes, high-energy beaches, sand dunes, rocky habitats, and inlets occur along the barrier islands of Florida's east coast.  Melbourne is free of the heavy traffic and crime of more densely developed areas.  Many students share houses or apartments within walking distance of the ocean. 

The reefs of the Florida Keys are a 5 hr drive away.  Offshore, there are opportunities to study shelf and deep-sea communities, and Earth's mightiest ocean current, the Gulf Stream.  Nationally ranked academic oceanography programs and outstanding faculty with many decades of experience await Coastal Management students, including policy experiences that start in the first year. Florida Tech's Undergraduate Minor Program in Sustainability is training a new generation of undergraduates in the application of best practices across all disciplines - many of which can be enhanced by graduate work in coastal management.  Our resources include:  

  • Virtual Climate Adaptation Library  Adaptation and planning for sea level rise:  over 650 reports collated by US through global regions; a major cloud computing research platform.  80 subfolders are maintained from Florida through every continent, with a list of related webinars maintained for the southeast US. 
  • Applied internships that generate real-world work experience:  numerous institutions are available for our required internships including agencies, universities, NGOs, and businesses in the Melbourne area, Florida, the southeast US, Washington D.C., Latin America, and the Greater Caribbean.
  • Evinrude Center  The Evinrude Marine Operations Center Facility houses small and medium-sized workboats available to faculty and students.  These vessels are available for teaching and research use in the many habitat systems of the Indian River Lagoon and coastal ocean.
  • Laboratory, computing and library facilities throughout the university for research in biology, chemistry, GIS, business, geology, engineering, meteorology and other fields.
  • Vero Beach Marine Laboratory, our experimental beachfront aquaculture and research station.
  • Aquaculture Lab and Field Facility, a five-acre teaching and research facility with ponds, tanks, indoor hatchery and laboratories.
  • Indian River Lagoon Research Platform a shallow-water tower where research into biofouling, marine meteorology, tides and currents, and environmental change are conducted.    

Our Undergraduate Program:

The undergraduate curriculum in coastal management prepares students for an oceanographic career in science-based decision-making and management using many types of knowledge systems. As with other specializations in oceanography, the Coastal Management student first acquires a sound foundation in underlying scientific principles and in parallel learns about the marine environment in which those principles apply. A capstone experience in marine field projects or an internship draws together all the classroom and laboratory knowledge, and provides the Coastal Management student with a practicum involving contemporary issues.  

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Our Graduate Program:

The Master of Science in Coastal Management requires 30 approved credits beyond the bachelors degree, which should be in one of the natural or physical sciences, business or policy, or engineering.  The applicant should have had undergraduate course work that includes computer science, mathematics through calculus, chemistry, physics, and biology or geology.  Students with deficiencies in their undergraduate preparation (up to 12 credits) may take deficiencies and courses for graduate credit concurrently.  Graduate Record Examination General Test and a statement of objectives are required.

The Graduate Curriculum includes at least 24 credits in approved courses plus an internship.  Internships typically are arranged with local, state or federal agencies, with corporations, or with non-profit organizations (NGOs).  A substantial policy project and final internship report is required as a component of internship completion.  It is feasible for particularly well-prepared full-time students to complete the course of study in 18 months. 

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Coastal Management Electives

Over one dozen applicable electives exist among other graduate programs within the Department of Marine and Environmental Systems, including environmental sciences and management (ENS, ERM), oceanography (OCN), ocean engineering (OCE), and meterology (MET) courses.  Please look at our catalog for more information.  In addition, there are strong graduate electives applicable to coastal management from the Departments of Biological Sciences (BIO), Business (BUS), Environmental Education (EDS), and Civil Engineering (CVE) on campus.