Summer Field Program

Depending on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible courses may be shifted to a hybrid, or partially web-supplemented, format. The safety of students and staff is of the highest importance and any decisions will be made in the best interest of health and safety. Once you have applied for the program, your contact information will be on file, and you will be notified if there are any changes to course format. Information will also be posted on the GCRL Summer Field Program Facebook page. The most up to date university-wide information can be found on USM’s COVID-19 response website:

If you have any questions or concerns please email Margaret at


GCRL's Summer 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 Summer Field Program and gain an experience of a lifetime!


Get out There, Get on the Water and Get
Your Hands Dirty!

The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) Summer 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. 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.


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

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. 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.


The Summer Field Program runs May 24-June 23 (Session I) through June 24-July 26 (Session II). A student may enroll in only one course each session. 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.


Summer Session I
May 24-June 23

  • Elasmobranch Biology
  • (Shark Biology)
  • Marine Conservation
  • Marine Invertebrate Zoology
  • Marine Science I - Oceanography
  • Research Study Program

Summer Session II
June 24-July 26

  • Marine Animal Behavior
  • Marine Ichthyology
  • Marine Mammals
  • Marine Sciences II - Marine Biology
  • Research Study Program

For More Information

Please email

Program details, fee information, and application forms are provided here.

Larisa Lee
Undergraduate Programs Manager

For Admissions:
Margaret Firth, GCRL Admissions Specialist
Sam Clardy
Associate Director, Marine Education Center