The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education gave final approval yesterday to Coastal Carolina University’s first-ever doctoral program. CCU will begin offering a Ph.D. degree in marine science in 2014, pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), which is expected in the coming weeks.
“We are excited to reach this important milestone that has been in the planning stages for many years,” said CCU President David A. DeCenzo. “Coastal Carolina University owes a debt of gratitude to the leadership of the South Carolina House of Representatives and the Senate, the governor and especially the Horry County legislative delegation for their work in making this happen.”
The establishment of CCU’s Ph.D. program required a change in state law, which was passed last year, allowing four-year state universities to offer doctoral degrees in marine science. CCU also amended its mission statement to reflect the new direction in the institutional goals of the university.
With its coastal location, CCU has developed a distinguished academic program in marine science over the past 20 years that attracts students both nationally and internationally. In 2003, the University established a master’s degree in coastal marine and wetland studies.
The Ph.D. degree in marine science is the next logical step in CCU’s position as a hub for training students to identify and analyze important physical processes in the coastal zone, according to Michael Roberts, dean of CCU’s College of Science.
Roberts says that the degree will “focus on the complex interactions between atmosphere, ocean and land, with special attention given to shoreline change, weather impact and environmental policy. This training is critical as coastal areas come under increasing stress due to human migration, as well as environmental factors such as sea level and climate change.”