Dauphin Island Sea Lab offers diverse opportunities for graduate study in the marine sciences, focusing on the oceanography and ecology of estuaries and near-coastal communities and ecosystems. While the DISL serves as the focal point of graduate education in marine science in the state of Alabama, it is not a degree-granting institution, and graduate degrees are offered through ten of the 22 DISL Member Schools.

The Graduate Program at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is carried out year-round, with most courses being offered during the academic year although some graduate courses may be taken during the DISL Summer Program. Graduate courses are taught by resident DISL faculty year-round as well as by visiting faculty during the summer. The DISL curriculum is designed and integrated to meet the requirements of the various member institutions.

Approximately 50 graduate students are in residence at the DISL on a year-round basis. Students generally undertake many of their formal course requirements during the first three semesters of study, at which time they also develop their thesis prospectus and initiate their research. 

In addition to stipend support, the DISL provides significant support for students to carry out their thesis research (e.g., vessel and vehicle use, materials and supplies, and analytical support) as well as travel to regional and national meetings. 

How to Apply

Students interested in applying should contact potential advisors, the University Programs Registrar or a campus liaison to learn more on how to apply. Ten of the 22 MESC member schools offer graduate student programs, and are listed below.  

Registration for New Graduate Students

  1. First register with your home institution and have proof of registration as an image file or screen capture
  2. Complete the online DISL graduate application.-
    a.You will need proof of registration from your home MESC school and you will need to upload a digital file to your application
    b.Complete the vessel release and the medical release forms and have them notarized. You will upload these forms during the application process.
  3. Once you complete your application, you will receive a login to Populi via email.
  4. Login to Populi to register for the classes you want to take under the student tab. (see Example 1 below)
  5. Click the + or - icons to add or delete a class. (see Example 2 below)
  6. Press save when you have your preferred courses selected.

Registration for Returning Graduate Students

  1. Email your proof of registration to
  2. Login to with your username and password. Contact, if you forgot your login.
  3. Select the my profile tab, then the registration tab.
Example 1



Example 2

Stipend and Funding

Current DISL stipend rates are:

  • $18,000 - $19,000 MS students
  • $20,000 - $21,000 for Ph.D. students who have been admitted to candidacy.

*At many schools, funded students in good academic standing are also provided with tuition fellowships that cover 100% of tuition costs.

Student stipend support is available through both university and DISL fellowships, university and DISL-funded teaching assistantships, and grant-funded research assistantships.

Over the past several years, more than 95 percent of our students have been fully-funded.  Tuition varies based on the student’s home institution, although at many schools, funded students in good academic standing are also provided with tuition fellowships that can cover 100 percent of tuition costs.

More information about graduate student funding.

Required Forms

Vessel Waiver
Media Release
Medical Release
Certificate of Registration
Internet Usage Form
Evacuation Form

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