In the Sustainable Oceans program, we are training the next generation of quantitative marine scientists under a new paradigm that begins with the decisions facing policy makers to generate use-inspired research questions across ecology, conservation biology, population biology, economics, geology, physiology, biogeochemistry, and oceanography. We envision future generations of researchers, policymakers, and educators seamlessly integrating multiple types of information across multiple scales to improve the scientific basis of decision-making in the management of natural resources. These leaders will have the breadth of knowledge and skills necessary to link natural and socioeconomic questions in the emerging field of ecosystem management.

We invite applications from prospective doctoral students interested in our program.

If you are currently a first year masters student at a CSU campus and are interested in applying for the CMSI-COAST scholar program, please see this page.


Each cohort in the Sustainable Oceans NRT program will consist of six funded trainees (five funded by NSF and one funded by UC Davis) and up to six trainees admitted without NRT funding. Trainees funded by the NRT will receive fee waivers and stipend of $34,000 to be awarded beginning in July and spanning their second year in graduate study.

We regret that, because of NSF requirements, only US citizens and permanent residents are eligible for the NSF NRT funded fellowships. International students are eligible to apply for the UC Davis funded fellowship or participate as non-funded trainee.

Per the usual practice for UC Davis doctoral programs, all trainees will be supported by a combination of non-NRT fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships during their graduate study.

Areas of graduate study

The Sustainable Oceans program will provide transformative interdisciplinary training spanning fields that include

  • applied math and data science
  • biogeochemistry
  • conservation biology, ecology, and population biology
  • geography
  • geology
  • oceanography
  • physiology
  • political science
  • resource economics

…and other disciplines related to ecosystem-based fisheries management.

Prospective students should plan to begin a doctoral program the same fall that they enter Sustainable Oceans as trainees and therefore should apply concurrently. Because of the demanding first-year curriculum in Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE), ARE students should apply concurrently with their ARE application, but they will not begin the program until their 2nd year in graduate school.

Application process

  1. Please have a prospective advisor willing to endorse your full participation in the Sustainable Oceans program. Advisors do not need to be Sustainable Oceans trainers but they must understand and support its goals, including writing an interdisciplinary dissertation chapter. We strongly encourage you to contact faculty who might serve as your advisor well in advance of the application deadline of your prospective doctoral program.
  2. You must apply to an appropriate doctoral program at UC Davis. The Sustainable Oceans program does not grant degrees so applying only to the Sustainable Oceans program does not admit you to a graduate program.
  3. Check with your prospective graduate program to find its deadline. Some UC Davis graduate programs have early December application deadlines; some use 15 January. There is no wiggle room on these; graduate programs have hard deadlines.
  4. Complete the Sustainable Oceans online information form and submit the materials in (5) and (6). There is no additional fee when applying to the NRT program.
  5. Write a 1-page statement of purpose that describes how…
    • policy immersion and interdisciplinarity in the SO program will advance your graduate study and
    • your participation would enhance the experience of other SO trainees and the SO community
  6. Save the statement of purpose as SO_sop_YourlastnameYourfirstname.pdf. Rename your CV SO_cv_YourlastnameYourfirstname.pdf. Email your statement of purpose and CV to academic coordinator Pernille Sporon Bøving with the subject line SO application.

For full consideration, please submit the Sustainable Oceans materials by 15 January. 

Do you have a partner or spouse applying to UC Davis? Please let Pernille know. We may be able to help you brainstorm a set of potential solutions.

Adult spring run Chinook salmon, Salmon River, California (photo: Michael Bravo)

Additional information

Questions? Contact our academic coordinator, Pernille Sporon Bøving