Initial Publication Date: January 9, 2014

B.S. in Marine and Environmental Sciences, Hampton University

Information for this profile was provided by Deidre Gibson, Chair and Professor of Marine and Environmental Science. Information is also available on the program website. Students in this program are pursuing a B.S. degree.

Program Design & Assessment


Hampton University is a Historically Black university (otherwise classified as a Historically Black College or University: HBCU) founded in 1868. In 1981, the Marine Sciences department was established. Shortly after, Environmental Sciences was added to the department to support the growing demand for Environmental Science at the university. The department is small; at it's max the department had 100 students. Currently, there are 3 faculty in the department.

Strengths of this program

The program's small size is a main strength to the program. While small, the experiences that the students have are unique and exciting. Students have opportunities to engage in internships, research, research cruises, and study abroad experiences that make their education quite unique. The degree is also customizable so that students can tailor their education to their desires. Each of the three faculty members have connections in a variety of industry and lab settings so that students can engage in a wide variety of experiences to supplement their education. The smallness of the department makes customization possible in that the faculty can get to know each student's strengths and desires to help place them in appropriate research or internship experiences.

Types of students served

Students at Hampton University are primarily African-American, with a growing number of other minority students (asian, hispanic, etc). There are also a large number of students who are part of the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program.

Program Goals

The goals of this program are as follows:

The department strives to give students the highest competitive advantage as possible for their baccalaureate work. There are three main foci of departmental work to achieve this goal; research, communication, and interdisciplinary connections.

  • The faculty work hard to promote and provide research opportunities similar to what is available at larger universities while maintaining a relationship with each student to help guide them toward experiences that are a good fit for them. To that end, one degree requirement is for students to have some kind of research experience. To provide that, faculty work with each individual student to help provide some kind of experience whether it be a formal summer or year-round internship, a research project within the department or an experience with a partnering university. The department offers a wide range of options from REUs to projects within the department so that each student, regardless of their qualifications, can have some kind of experience.
  • The faculty feel strongly that teaching students to communicate ocean sciences with the general public is an important skill for future scientists to have. All scientists communicate with the public in one way or another, and some training and skill are required to do it effectively. The department views being able to communicate science concepts is crucial to a scientists' success. Similarly, the department also supports students financially in attending professional conferences so that students can present their work and have the opportunity to hear other scientists communicate their work.
  • The department also works to build relationships with other departments or institutions in order to foster more interdisciplinary relationships and to enhance student's understanding of coursework in different contexts. Students work with Engineering, Atmospheric Science, Biology departments and with other faculty at institutions like Virginia Tech and UCLA.

The learning goals were informed by the following resources:

The faculty decided on these goals in order to reduce the stereotype that surrounds HBCUs like Hampton. The faculty want students to be the best they can be when they leave the HBCU and enter other institutions for graduate work so that they can be highly successful in their advanced studies and beyond. The faculty feel that this will go a long way toward reducing the stereotypes associated with HBCUs.

How program goals are assessed

The faculty hear from other faculty that graduates work with (either during their undergraduate or graduate careers) who say that the Hampton students are the best students that they have had. Hampton students are well prepared and are making a positive impression on other faculty.

Similarly, Hampton graduates are typically quite successful in their graduate education which demonstrates that the preparation has benefited them.

Design features that allow goals to be met

The department is very small with just 3 faculty members and around 30 students in the department. This makes it possible to customize research, internship, and other educational experiences to each individual student. The faculty are also passionate about providing the educational experiences to the students; the faculty uphold the values of quality and rigor that are needed to make this program work as well as it does.

Alumni Careers

Graduation rate

There are around 30 students in the department with 8-10 graduates annually. The department has been growing lately as the university works to increase it's diversity. The department is beginning to get more students from other racial and ethnic minorities.

Careers pursued by our alumni

Nearly all students go on to graduate school immediately following graduation.

Courses and Sequencing

Diagram of course sequencing and requirements

The department is planning to revise these degree requirements in the future to provide more flexibility to students.