Certificate Requirements

Minimum Requirements

16           credits, traditional classroom courses
 2            credits, ocean policy seminar
 1            credit, science practica
 1            credit, policy practica
 1            credit, ocean policy paper
21           credits

Traditional Classroom 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 expected to complete a minimum of 9 credits from the Science group; students who have studied in the natural sciences or engineering should complete at least 9 credits from the Policy group.  Courses not on the list may be approved by petition.

  • No more than two courses numbered below 500 may be counted.
  • No more than 6 credits may be applied to this certificate which have been (or will be) applied to the requirements of a degree or another certificate.
  • No credits older than seven years at the time of graduation may be applied.
  • Not more than eight credits from a non-University of Hawaii institution may be applied.
  • The student must have a curriculum proposal approved by his/her Supervising Committee and the GOPC Steering Committee not later than the last day of classes of the first semester of candidacy.


The objective of the practica is to assure that GOPC graduates have acquired some degree of practical experience in both ocean science and ocean policy activities.

Students who enter without practical experience in either science and policy are expected to carry out a practical in each area.

The GOPC Director will assist students in formulating their practica and preparing a proposal for review and approval by their Supervising Committee and the GOPC Steering Committee.  Upon approval, the student registers for one credit of OEST 699V, Directed Reading and Research, for each practicum.

Waivers may be granted for one or both practica by petition to the GOPC Steering Committee, via the Supervising Committee.  A written description of the prior experience, one to two pages in length, should be submitted with the petition form.

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Examples of practica/prior experience:


  • 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.


  • 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.

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Ocean Policy Seminar

This seminar is organized around a different theme each semester (fall and spring) and is intended to be a forum where science and policy come together for discussion, deliberation and analysis.  Guest speakers provide students access to leaders in the field and contribute to establishing/expanding networks.  Students are encouraged to speak.  Preparatory reading assignments and a term paper are usually required.  Passing grades are only awarded to students who attend at least 80% of the class meetings.  Register for OEST/SOCS 735 (2), letter grade only.

Students must enroll at least once, completing the course with a grade of A or B, to earn the certificate.  Students are required to enroll in the seminar each semester they remain a candidate for the certificate until they have taken the seminar four times or have been excused for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Scheduling conflict with another cruise required for degree or certificate.
  • Field work related to degree would prevent attendance at >20% of the class meetings.
  • Health reasons prevent attendance.
  • Work-related conflicts.
  • Military service.
  • Other justifications as approved by the Steering Committee.

Each student is responsible for requesting exemption from seminar registration by submitting a written justification for the Steering Committee’s approval, preferably before the fact.  To receive maximum benefit from the GOPC program and the faculty’s efforts to organize the seminars, students are encouraged to enroll as often as possible and to attend even during the semester in which they have not enrolled.  The seminar is customarily the venue for making general announcements about jobs, conferences, visitors, and other seminars of interest.


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 Supervising Committee and then the Steering Committee.  Ideally the paper should be approved as early as possible, so that the student can begin readings, interviews, and research.  During the semester in which the student intends to graduate, he or she should register for one credit of OEST 699V, Directed Reading and Research, for a letter grade.  The paper will be evaluated by the Supervising Committee.

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Graduate Ocean Policy Certificate Program
College of Social Sciences
Department of Geography
Saunders 445
Honolulu, Hawaii 96822

Phone:  (808) 956-8465
Facsimile:  (808) 956-3512
E-mail: rieser@hawaii.edu



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