Why Study Coastal Engineering or Marine and Coastal Sciences?
A branch of civil engineering, coastal engineering pertains specifically to construction on or near the coast, as well as the design and changes of the coastline itself. A related discipline, marine and coastal sciences examine the coast from a different angle, particularly the neighboring land and water ecosystems and the effects that natural and manmade changes have.
While different, coastal engineering and marine and coastal sciences overlap in multiple conceptual and application areas:
- Both fields examine hydrodynamics, or the influence that waves, tides, and storms have on natural and manmade topography and the challenges saltwater poses once it travels inland.
- Coastal engineers and scientists have to analyze environmental impact through the lens of coastal defense and preservation. Coastal engineers and scientists often have to identify and examine hazards related to floods, hurricanes, droughts, climate change, and human activity on the coast. In the process, these professionals are required to assess existing water and mineral resources, and the impact human activity can have on them.
- Both fields recognize symbiosis among biodiversity, habitats, ecosystems, and coastal morphology. In turn, coastal engineers and coastal scientists employ geological, oceanography, physics, earth science, mapping, hydrology, and conservation biology concepts in varying degrees on the job.
- From their own specific angles, coastal engineers and coastal scientists may be called upon to develop structural and non-structural protection against coastal changes, factoring in the existing ecosystem, the region’s sediment, and industrial needs to develop a solution with little-to-no impact on the coastline, neighboring community, and surrounding ecosystem.
About UNO’s Graduate Coastal Engineering and Sciences Certificate Programs
UNO announced its two CEAS certificate programs in 2014, after data from a Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO) study identified a growing need for coastal engineers and scientists. After GNO, Inc. surveyed civil engineers, coastal restoration firms, and scientists working to rebuild the coast, local industries pointed to a pervasive skills gap: current professionals and recent graduates don’t have the specialized knowledge to participate in delta coastal improvement projects.
In turn, UNO worked in conjunction with GNO, Inc. to develop engineering and scientific coursework focusing on the challenges of maintaining the region’s unique deltaic coast, with the goals of cultivating talent for existing and future restoration projects and turning the Gulf Region into an exemplary model of coastal and water management for the rest of the world to emulate.
Using GNO, Inc.’s data for guidance, UNO crafted the coursework for the Coastal Engineering and Coastal Sciences certificate programs with working professionals, current graduate students, and recent graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering in mind. Practically applied concepts address and propose solutions to the region’s specific challenges and prepare students for positions within civil engineering, construction, research, or scientific disciplines.
CEAS Certificate Curricula
The CEAS certificate programs are overseen by the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. To receive a certificate, students must take a total of twelve (12) credit hours and earn at least a cumulative 3.0 GPA. While the certificate itself offers a skills-specific credential, the credits may also be applied toward a Master of Science degree at UNO.
UNO offers all CEAS certificate courses on campus and online, with classes scheduled during Fall and Spring semesters.
Graduate Certificate in Coastal Sciences Curriculum
Students take four (4) courses covering coastal processes, sediment transport, dredging, coastal geomorphology, and coastal management. Throughout all subjects, students learn:
- to predict delta coastal evolution, marsh edge erosion, and shoreline changes through coastal morphology;
- to evaluate sediment load and the cost of different dredging methods;
- how wind and wave generation affects coastal sediment transport;
- to apply various management and mitigation methods to deltas, estuaries, beaches, and shorelines; and
- about the wide range of coastal environments and their individual physical, chemical, and biological processes.
Graduate Certificate in Coastal Engineering Curriculum
Students take four (4) courses covering ocean and coastal engineering; coastal processes; sediment transport and dredging; and the design of coastal and hydraulic structures. In the process, students learn:
- how to utilize gravity dams, spillways, drop structures, stilling basins, sector gates, and outfall structures;
- about sediment transport, including how to compute sediment loading and the effects of wind and wave generation;
- to design levees and analyze slope stability, settlement, and seepage;
- to evaluate the costs of different dredging methods; and
- how morphodynamics can be used to examine erosion and other changes in delta, shoreline, and marsh environments.
Careers in Coastal Engineering and Marine and Coastal Sciences
Both coastal engineers and scientists assist with examining and evaluating a coastline before a project begins, with the goal of preserving its natural defense mechanisms against waves and erosion while allowing communities and ecosystems to safely coexist and local industries to thrive. Ignoring this balance may divert a body of water’s natural flow, in turn accelerating erosion, damaging habitats, and increasing flood risks for adjacent cities and towns.
To prevent this chain reaction, marine scientists and coastal engineers often work in conjunction to analyze the soil, waves, currents, sediment transport, dredging, and offshore morphology. This information then assists with producing projects that have minimal coastal impact. Specifically, new construction must not exacerbate erosion, needs to protect coastal areas from flooding, and should offer a secure route for vessels to enter harbors and other waterways to keep the local shipping industry intact. In the process, coastal engineers may need to consider the placement of breakwaters and seawalls and assess how the new project will respond to natural events, from storm waves to hurricanes.
Due to its unique topography, challenges, and economic growth, the Gulf Region has experienced an influx of coastal engineering and marine science positions in recent years. On a national level, growth across both occupations is relatively steady, if not slightly faster than average. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for civil engineers is predicted to jump 6% from 2018 through 2028, while positions for environmental scientists and specialists are expected to increase 8% over the same period.
Apply to the CEAS Certificate Programs
The graduate certificate in Coastal Sciences and the graduate certificate in Coastal Engineering are designed for individuals who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering or the sciences and who have some experience in the workforce. Interested individuals:
- need to have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited engineering or sciences program;
- must have earned a cumulative 2.5 GPA or higher for all undergraduate and previously completed graduate coursework;
- must submit all undergraduate and, if applicable, graduate transcripts; and
- must fill out an online application as a non degree–seeking Graduate Student.
GRE and other standardized test scores are not required for admittance into the CEAS certificate programs.
Whether you’re a current UNO graduate student or a professional interested in expanding your credentials, review all application requirements for the CEAS certificate programs to get started.
Tuition for both certificates is based on UNO’s per-credit Graduate School fee structure. Online students are assessed the same tuition as in-state students.
For students choosing to take more than one course per semester, the current tuition is based on the following structure:
Tuition does not include the cost of textbooks. For certain students, additional fees may be added on top of the current tuition structure. Review all additional Graduate School fees.
Enhance Your Career with a Graduate Certificate in Coastal Engineering or Coastal Sciences from UNO
Take your engineering or scientific research career in a specialized direction that gives you an edge among many Gulf Coast industries and employers. To learn more, contact Malay Ghose Hajra, Ph.D., P.E., about the graduate certificate in Coastal Engineering; Martin O’Connell, Ph.D. about the graduate certificate in Coastal Sciences; or fill out a request for information form today.
Obtaining the Certificate
Note that completing all the required subjects is only one of the prerequisites for obtaining the certificate. Therefore, in order to receive the certificate on time, students are advised to add the certificate to their academic plan before completing the last remaining course for coastal Engineering/Science certification. To add the coastal engineering/Science certificate to the academic plan, the student should complete the program plan change/update form and then go into Webstar and apply for graduation for the certificate.