2015 Summer Field Program, University of Southern Mississippi Division of Coastal Sciences

Experience Marine Biology in the Gulf of Mexico

GCRL's Field Program provides undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to learn about coastal environments in an intensive field and lab based setting. On-site amenities include research vessels, dormitory, dining hall, research labs, library, and a specimen museum. Make your plans today to attend the GCRL Field Program and gain an experience of a lifetime!



The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) Field Program offers a unique, hands-on field experience. Our classes focus on studies of plants and animals in their natural habitats and physical processes in marine and coastal environments. Courses are designed to provide students with an unrivaled academic experience in a marine lab setting. Classes are small to enhance the experience and allow students to work side-by-side with experts in the marine field.

Classes are extremely intense and immerse you in the subject matter. Most classes are conducted in a focused laboratory and field setting. Courses that include heavy field work utilize the GCRL fleet of research vessels to explore the Mississippi Sound and barrier islands. Our newest research vessel, the R/V Jim Franks, is currently being built with plans to be in use for the 2016 Summer Field Program. In addition to local boat and field trips, some classes take overnight trips to other areas of the Gulf of Mexico. Students fully embrace the beautiful Gulf and the unique habitats in our area.

In order for you to really experience the field, you have to...

Get out There, Get on the Water, and Learn by Getting Your Hands Dirty.
So... Are you Ready to get YOUR Hands Dirty?


Room and board is available for students selecting on-campus housing. Dorm rooms are dual occupancy, with WiFi access and free laundry facilities. Meals are served in the GCRL dining hall, located adjacent to the dorms. Out in the field for the day or on an overnight field trip? Don’t worry – if you are a dorm resident, your meals and accommodations are covered!

The GCRL campus has many amenities for students, including kayaking in the bayou, fire pit, sand volleyball, basketball, and pier access. Make sure to pack your fishing pole – fishing off the pier shouldn’t be missed! Most importantly, the local beach and Gulf of Mexico are steps away from the GCRL campus.

While you’re not in class or studying, take advantage of our central location and enjoy all the amenities of south Mississippi. Sandy beaches, water sports, fishing, golf, tennis, biking, and hiking are among the local opportunities for recreation. The GCRL is in Ocean Springs – a picturesque town with many activities to entice any outdoor enthusiast. Our quaint town also offers great night life, restaurants, shopping, and other activities.

Coastal living, the science life, and earning college credit –
all adds up to an experience of a lifetime!



There are two sessions in 2016. The 2016 Spring Mini-Session runs January 4-15. The 2016 Summer Field Program runs May 16-27 (Mini-Session), May 31-June 28 (First Term) and June 30-July 29 (Second Term). A student may enroll in only one course each term. Students should not take classes at other campuses while taking field courses at the GCRL.

There are two sessions in 2017. The 2017 Spring Mini-Session runs January 3-13. The international course (Tropical Biology in the Galapagos) has special dates that run January 2-12. While the USM academic calendars for Summer 2017 has not been release yet, estimated dates for the Summer Field Program are as follows: May 15-26 (Mini-Session), May 30 – June 27 (First Term), and June 29 – July 28 (Second Term). A student may enroll in only one course each term. Students should not take classes at other campuses while taking field courses at the GCRL.

Course Offerings

Details on all course offerings are available on the SFP Course Offerings page.

GCRL Summer Field Program

Summer Mini-Session, May 16-27, 2016

  • Barrier Island Ecology
  • Coastal Herpetology
  • Coastal Ornithology
  • Dolphin & Whale Behavior

First Term, May 31–June 28, 2016

  • Marine Biology
  • Marine Ecology
  • Marine Invertebrate Zoology
  • Oceanography
  • Shark Biology
  • Research Study Program

Second Term, June 30–July 29, 2016

  • Marine Biology
  • Marine Ichthyology
  • Marine Mammals
  • Parasites of Marine Animals
  • Shark & Stingray Physiology
  • Research Study Program


2017 Spring Mini-Session,
January 3–13, 2017

  • Barrier Island Ecology
  • Sirenian Biology
  • Tropical Biology in the Galapagos (Special Dates: January 2-12, 2017)


For More Information

Please email gcrlsfp@usm.edu. Program details, fee information, and application forms are provided here.

Darcie Graham
Academic Programs Coordinator
228.818.8887 / Fax: 228.818.8894

For Admissions:
Margaret Firth, GCRL Admissions Specialist
228.818.8852 / Fax: 228.818.8894