Graduate Ocean Policy Certificate

The Graduate Ocean Policy Certificate (GOPC) represents an interdisciplinary approach to the increasingly complex management of our oceans. Effective handling of ocean issues depends on an understanding of the natural environment, the technology that facilitate the exploration and development of the ocean environment, and social factors that govern these activities. Individuals, organizations and governments must be prepared to assess the legal, environmental, socio-political and economic implications of policy decisions.

  • Contact: GOPC Director Brian Szuster (szuster@hawaii.edu), Associate Professor, Geography and Environment

Located in the Pacific and with established ties to Asia and U.S. mainland, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) is uniquely situated to combine natural and social science perspectives in a professional education program. UHM is home to world-class academic and research programs in the College of Social Sciences, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, and the Environmental Law Program at the William S. Richardson School of Law. Instructors include UHM faculty and experts from the professional community in Hawaiʻi. The program also provides opportunities to network with peers and professionals who share an interest in marine affairs and policy, ocean resources, and coastal management.

The Graduate Ocean Policy Certificate program allows creation of individualized curricula to augment graduate training and professional experience. Classified UH graduate students and law students in good standing are eligible for the program. Non-UHM students and community professionals (who hold at least a bachelor’s degrees and meet minimum UH requirements) are admitted as special, non-degree students on approval from the Graduate Division. Full- or part-time students may participate.

The certificate is designed for:

  • ocean industry managers and policy makers who wish to develop skills and tools that allow them to assess the implications of ocean policy decisions;
  • graduate students who wish to develop an ocean policy focus within their existing academic program;
  • scientists and engineers who wish to broaden their understanding of the legal, political, economic, and social forces that affect ocean development activities; and
  • managers and professionals who can receive policy training on a flexible schedule and earn a certificate without enrolling in a formal degree program.

Certificate requirements for all students include:

  • completing 12 credits in elective coursework drawn from an approved list of courses;
  • completing the 3 credit core course (OEST/SOCS 735);
  • preparing and presenting an approved research paper;
  • completing a policy practicum or internship; and
  • maintaining a minimum grade point average.

Minimum Requirements

  • 12 credits of elective courses.
  • 3 credits of one of the core courses (either OEST/SOCS 735, GEOG 621 or ECON 409).
    • Thus, a total of 15 course credits are required. 9 credits must be at the 600 level or higher (500 level or higher for Law courses), excluding 699 and Thesis 700 courses.
  • Preparing and presenting (or publishing) a research paper focused on ocean policy.
  • Completing a policy practicum or internship such as: one week of oceanographic research at sea and observation of legislative or regulatory development concerning ocean policy over the course of a semester (this requirement can be waived on the basis of past experience).
  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.

Elective Courses

The objective of the course requirements is to provide each student grounding in aspects of both ocean science and ocean policy.

Recommended courses are grouped into “Policy” and “Science” on a separate list which is updated periodically. Students whose prior academic background is in the social sciences are encouraged to complete a minimum of 9 credits from the Science group; students who have studied in the natural sciences or engineering are encouraged to complete at least 9 credits from the Policy group. Courses not on the list may be approved by petition.

  • 100 or 200 level courses do not count. Neither do 399 or 499 courses.
  • No more than 6 credits may be double-counted (i.e. applied to the requirements of a degree and the GOPC), subject to the following conditions:
    • Credits for required courses (in either graduate program) may not be double-counted.
    • Both degrees are completed within the time allowed.
    • Written approval from the Office of Graduate Education.
    • Written approval from the second graduate program, or in the case of concurrent degrees, from both graduate programs.

Policy Practicum or Internship

The objective of the practicum is to assure that GOPC graduates have acquired some degree of practical experience in both ocean science and ocean policy activities. The GOPC Director will assist students in formulating their practicum. Waivers may be granted for the practicum by petition to the GOPC Director. A written description of the prior experience, one to two pages in length, should be submitted.

Examples of Practicum – Science

  • Research cruise of one week or longer consisting of substantial “hands-on” experience and involvement in the scientific planning and/or analysis.
  • Workshops or classes with significant experiential component focusing on a scientific question or problem, data recording, and/or analysis.
  • Relevant employment, volunteer work, internship, thesis/dissertation.

Examples of Practicum – Policy

  • Tracking a bill or resolution through a legislative body and delivering testimony on it.
  • Tracking proposed regulations through an administrative agency and submitting comments on them.
  • Employment or internship with an ocean policy-making or –implementing organization.
  • Holding a responsible position (e.g. board member or officer) and being active in a ocean policy-making NGO (non-governmental organization) for a reasonable length of time.

Paper

The purpose of the paper is to provide a vehicle for each student to integrate his or her unique combination of coursework and experiences into a coherent investigation of an ocean policy topic of personal interest. Co-authored/team projects and papers are permitted. Not later than the end of the second semester in the program, the student should prepare a proposal for the paper to be reviewed by the GOPC Director. Ideally the paper should be approved as early as possible, so that the student can begin readings, interviews, and research. The paper will be evaluated by the GOPC Director.

Policy Courses

Courses in bold have been frequently recommended by previous GOPC students.

  • AMST 425 – American Environmental History (3)
  • ANTH 430 – Human Adaptation to the Sea (3)
  • COM 645 – Mass Communications (3)
  • ECON 358 – Environmental Economics (3)
  • ECON 458 – Project Evaluation & Resource Management (3)
  • ECON 409 – The Ocean Economy (3)
  • ECON 638 – Environmental Resource Economics (3)
  • GEOG 365 – Geography of the Pacific (3)
  • GEOG 411 – Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (3)
  • GEOG 412 – Environmental Impact Assessment (3)
  • GEOG 435 – Political Geography of Oceans (3)
  • GEOG 455 – Resource Management (3)
  • GEOG/PLAN 639 – Community-Based Resource Management (3)
  • GEOG 728 – Seminar: Resource Management in Asia-Pacific (3)
  • HIST 489 – World Maritime History (3)
  • HIST 401 – History of the Indian Ocean World (3)
  • LAW 527 – Topics in Environmental Law (3)
  • LAW 514 – Wildlife and Natural Resources Law (V)
  • LWEV 582 – Environmental Law (V)
  • LWEV 592 – Domestic Ocean & Coastal Law (3)
  • LWEV 593 – International Ocean Law (2)
  • PLAN 600 – Public Policy & Planning Theory (3)
  • PLAN 625 – Environmental Planning (3)
  • PLAN 620 – Environmental Policies & Programs (3)
  • PLAN 652 – Policy Implementation & Program Evaluation (3)
  • POLS 670 – Introduction to Public Policy (3)
  • PUBA 620 – Reforming Public Organizations (3)
  • PUBA 630 – Nonprofit Management (3)
  • PUBA 662 – Applied Policy Analysis (3)
  • SOCS 735 – Ocean Policy & Management (3)
  • TIM 442 – Advanced Topics in Transportation (3)

Science Courses

Courses in bold have been frequently recommended by previous GOPC students.

  • BIOL 301 – Biology of Marine Organisms (3)
  • BIOL 310 – Environmental Issues (3)
  • BIOL 320 – The Atoll (3)
  • BIOL 410 – Human Role in Environmental Change (3)
  • BIOL 425 – Wildlife and Plant Conservation (3)
  • BE 431 – Biological Pollution Control (3)
  • BOT 450 – Natural History of the Hawaiian Islands (3)
  • BOT 482 – Adaptations of Plants to the Marine Environment (3)
  • BOT 690 – Conservation Biology (3)
  • CEE 330 – Environmental Engineering (3)
  • CEE 635 – Environmental Chemistry (3)
  • CEE 63 – Water Quality Biology (3)
  • CEE 641 – Marine Disposal of Wastewater (3)
  • CEE 644 – Water Quality Modeling (3)
  • GEOG 401 – Climate Change (3)
  • GG 603 – Petrology of Ocean Lithosphere (3)
  • GG 641 – Sedimentology (3)
  • GG 644 – Sedimentary Geochemistry (3)
  • GG 674 – Paleoceanology (v)
  • MBIO 611 – Introduction to Quantitative Methods in Fisheries Science
  • MBIO 715 – Topics in Marine Biology – Conservation Biology
  • MET 303 – Introduction to Atmospheric Dynamics (3)
  • MET 610 – Tropical Climate and Weather (3)
  • OE 601 – Ocean Engineering Lab (3)
  • OE 603 – Oceanography for Ocean Engineers (3)
  • ORE 202 – Ocean Technology-Man in the Sea (3)
  • ORE 330 – Mineral and Energy Resources (3)
  • ORE 664 – Near-shore Processes and Sediment Transport (3)
  • ORE 677 – OTEC Systems (3)
  • OCN 310 – Global Environmental Change (3)
  • OCN 320 – Aquatic Pollution (3)
  • OCN 330 – Mineral & Energy Resources of the Sea (3)
  • OCN 331 – Living Resources of the Sea (3)
  • OCN 423 – Marine Geology (3)
  • OCN 444 – Plate Tectonics (3)
  • OCN 450 – Aquaculture Production (3)
  • OCN 480 – Dynamics of Marine Ecosystems: Bio-Phys Interactions in Oceans (3)
  • OCN 490 – Communications of Research Results (2)
  • OCN 620 – Physical Oceanography (3)
  • OCN 621 – Biological Oceanography (3)
  • OCN 622 – Geological Oceanography (3)
  • OCN 623 – Chemical Oceanography (3)
  • OCN 626 – Marine Micro-plankton Ecology (4)
  • OCN 627 – Ecology of Pelagic Marine Animals (4)
  • OCN 628 – Benthic Biological Oceanography (4)
  • OCN 631 – Ocean Minerals (3)
  • OCN 638 – Earth System Science and Global Change (3)
  • PSY 633 – Behavioral Processes of Marine Mammals (3)
  • ZOOL 439 – Animal Ecology (3)
  • ZOOL 465 – General Ichthyology (3)
  • ZOOL 466 – Fisheries Science (3)
  • ZOOL 467 – Ecology of Fishes (3)
  • ZOOL 475 – Biology of the Invertebrates (3)
  • ZOOL 485 – Biogeography (3)
  • ZOOL 620 – Marine Ecology (3)
  • ZOOL 690 – Conservation Biology (3)
  • ZOOL 716 – Topics in Fish and Fisheries Biology (V)
  • ZOOL 750 – Topics in Conservation Biology (V)

Application Procedures

Graduate Ocean Policy Certificate Application Checklist

If you are NOT currently an enrolled graduate student at the UH Mānoa please complete the following:

1. Online application and nonrefundable fee for admission to UHM Graduate Division

  • In the Graduate Division application, under Item 5
    Field of Study = Graduate Ocean Policy Certificate
    Program Code = GOPC
    Degree Sought = GCERT
  • Includes statement of objectives, residency declaration, supplementary information for non-U.S. citizens, transcripts, TOEFL results – if applicable, and application fee payment.
  • Send official transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended to:
    Graduate Division, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa–GOPC
    2540 Maile Way, Spalding Hall 353
    Honolulu, Hawaii 967822
  • Email questions to graduate.education@hawaii.edu

2. Email the following documents directly to GOPC director Brian Szuster (szuster@hawaii.edu)

  • Student Program application
  • CV/Resume
  • 1-2 page statement letter- instruction within student application
  • Two letters of recommendation from individuals that can comment on academic ability and/or interest in the subject matter of the certificate (*Your recommenders must email directly to Brian Szuster and must also attach the Letter of Recommendation Form)
  • If you are a current student please indicate when you wish to be admitted and the state of progress toward your degree program with expected date of graduation. Please have your advisor sign and date your statement.

Once all of your materials are received, they will be reviewed by the certificate program’s steering committee, and a decision will be made about admission. The applicant and the Graduate Admissions will receive a memo from the Graduate Chair of the program if the decision is to admit or not to admit.

Applications and materials may be submitted at any time; they do not need to meet the deadlines for students newly applying for admission to classified graduate student status.

There is a six-person steering committee for the program which will review the applications and decide which applicants will be accepted.

No financial aid is currently available.

Please contact the GOPC director Brian Szuster (szuster@hawaii.edu) if you have questions.

Program Director

  • Brian Szuster, Geography and Environment

Economics

  • John Lynham
  • Michael Roberts
  • James Roumasset
  • Nori Tarui

Geography and Environment

  • Camilo Mora
  • Mark Ridgley
  • Alison Rieser
  • Brian Szuster

Geology and Geophysics

  • Charles “Chip” Fletcher
  • Neil Frazer
  • Brain Popp
  • Greg Ravizza

Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB)

  • Brian Bowen
  • Erik Franklin
  • Robert Toonen

Law

  • David M. Forman

Biology

  • Alan Friedlander
  • Cynthia Hunter
  • Les Watling

Natural Resources and Environmental Management

  • PingSun Leung

Oceanography

  • Lorenz Maagard
  • Craig Smith
  • Paul Bienfang
  • Henry Trapido-Rosenthal

Travel Industry Management

  • Frederick M. Collison

Urban & Regional Planning

  • Kem Lowry