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. 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 Get Your Hands Dirty!
So... Are you Ready to Learn?


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.

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



There are two terms in 2017. The spring mini session runs January 3-13. The summer field program runs May 22-June 2 (Mini session), June 5-30 (Session I), and July 3-28 (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.

2017 Spring Mini Session, January 3–13, 2017

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

2017 Summer Field Program









Summer Mini Session,
May 22-June 2, 2017

  • Barrier Island Ecology
  • Coastal Herpetology
  • Coastal Ornithology
  • Dolphin & Whale Behavior
  • Field and Lab Techniques in Marine Fisheries

Summer Session I
June 5–30, 2017

  • Marine Animal Behavior
  • Marine Biology
  • Marine Ecology
  • Marine Ichthyology
  • Shark Biology
  • Research Study Program

Summer Session II
July 3–28, 2017

  • Marine Biology
  • Marine Conservation
  • Marine Invertebrate Zoology
  • Marine Mammals
  • Oceanography
  • Research Study Program


For More Information

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

Sam Clardy
Associate Director, Marine Education Center
228.818.8885 / Fax: 228.818.8894

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