Marine Science Distinguished Scholars

2022 MSS program

Western’s Marine Science Distinguished Scholars Program is a distinctive experience for 21 entering first-year students. The program begins prior to fall quarter with a one-week intensive course at Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center (SPMC), and then continues into fall quarter and beyond on campus. The marine science faculty who lead the initial residential course at SPMC continue to work closely with students throughout the program.  Students who have gotten to know each other at the marine station continue to meet once a week throughout their first and second years at Western. 

Scholars learn about contemporary environmental issues facing our marine and coastal environments, gaining experience, professional development skills, and exposure to scientific research and data collection. This introductory experience at SPMC and the cohort program during the school year can be a valuable initial step into the newly created Marine and Coastal Science (MACS) degree program, although participation in the Marine Science Distinguished Scholars program does not guarantee admission into the MACS major (most students will apply to a major their sophomore year).

Benefits of the Marine Science Distinguished Scholars Program include:

  • Live and learn at the Shannon Point Marine Center, for a one-week, hands-on course prior to the start of your first Fall Quarter at Western. The course (MACS 110) continues through Fall Quarter
  • Exclusive registration for a special series of 1-credit seminars addressing contemporary issues, such as pollution, global climate change, and sustainable fisheries. These seminars (MACS 111 and MACS 112) are available for students to take throughout their first two years at Western and are taught by the same faculty member who taught their initial residential experience.
  • Close involvement with Marine and Coastal Science faculty at the Shannon Point Marine Center who instruct courses for the Marine Science Distinguished Scholars Program
  • Interact with invited professionals from a variety of marine science career tracks
  • Stay informed on how to get involved with marine science and conservation through internships, research and outreach opportunities, and lectures.

How To Apply

Incoming first year students with at least a 3.0 GPA and a keen interest in marine science can apply here. Interested students should indicate Marine and Coastal Science as an academic interest on their application for admission to Western to help us find you, but we will regularly contact students with identified interests in Biology, Chemistry, Geology and Environmental Sciences as well. If you received an invitation, we have already identified you as potentially a great fit for the program and we encourage you to apply!  Applications are due in early March. See the application site for details. 

Participants are never locked into declaring a certain major. The committee selects students based on the information they provided in their application for admission — including grades, test scores, essay, personal experience, and specific interest in the marine sciences. For more information or questions, please email the MACS Student Engagement Lead, Dr. Nina Whitney (, or call 360-650-2039.

Note: For MACS 110, the pre-Fall, one-week experience at Shannon Point Marine Center (SPMC) in Anacortes, a housing and dining fee of $350 is required. Scholarships are available every Spring (see below). The course tuition will be covered as part of the regular Fall Quarter tuition charges, although students can only register for a total of 18 credits without triggering extra charges, or 15 credits in addition to the 3 for MACS 110. 

Scholarship Opportunity

The MACS scholarship is intended to offset some of the costs incurred in MACS course fees and is open to MACS students as well as Marine Science Distinguished Scholars who have accepted an invitation to participate in the Marine Science Distinguished Scholars Program for the upcoming year. The scholarship application for 2023 is now closed. Students interested in the 2024 Marine Science Distinguished Scholars program will be informed of scholarship opportunities once they have been accepted into the program in spring 2024.

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