Graduate Certificate in Fisheries Science and Assessment

The purpose is to further train professionals (post-bachelorettes) already in the workforce and to enhance the education of LSU graduate students by providing a set of specific courses tailored to current issues in fisheries science and management. Upon completion of the certificate, the students will have multi-disciplinary training in fisheries science and assessment, which is in high demand in government and private industry such as environmental consulting. Upon graduation completion of the Certificate Program will be noted, along with the courses taken, on the students transcripts.

Students will be required to take 18 hours of courses, including three (9 credits) required courses. The electives will be from at least three of five topic areas (resource management, resource economics, human dimensions, quantitative methods, and fish ecology) to ensure the breadth of their training, but can be tailored to the specific interests of the student.

All students in the Program will be required to take an FSAC Capstone Course (3 credits). The course will vary in emphasis from week to week and year-to-year depending upon currents issues. All students working to complete the Certificate must enroll in the capstone class designed to encourage exchange of ideas across disciplines. Students will be required to prepare a written document and make an oral presentation to enhance their communication skills.

Purpose and Need

Fisheries science and management now requires training in biology, social sciences, economics, statistics, and applied mathematics. A report to Congress documented the need for such broadly trained, graduate-level students (The Shortage in the Number of Individuals with Post-baccalaureate Degrees in Subjects Related to Fishery Science.

U.S. Dept. of Commerce and U.S. Dept. of Education. 2008. NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-F/SPO-91, 84 p.). Louisiana State University (LSU) already offers the courses that cover the content described as “useful” and “essential” in that Report to Congress, but these courses are located in a variety of academic units spread throughout the campus. The Certificate provides a clear mechanism for students obtain the skills necessary for modern-day fisheries science and management.

Fisheries support major industries in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere. Broadly trained graduates are in demand at federal and state resource agencies charged with resource management, regulation, and permitting, and in private industry such as environmental consulting, or any industry that requires natural resource assessments. This need for trained fisheries scientists is not restricted to Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico. Rather, it applies to all states in the US, and to many nations.


All LSU graduate students wishing to participate in the Program are invited. Most are expected to come from departments such as Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, Experimental Statistics, Biological Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Agricultural Economics, and the School of Renewable Natural Resources – College of Agriculture), but students wishing to participate are not limited to these departments. In addition, students from federal and state agencies, and local industry also will benefit from additional workforce training that the Certificate will provide. 

What is Unique About This Program?

The Certificate Program is designed so that students can enter through four different “portals” after having completed a small number of required courses. Examples of courses outside of those required (i.e., Core) are provided below, but other courses are available and can be included by permission of the Steering Committee. For example, those students wishing to enter through the Resource Economics Portal will be able to choose between OCS 7341 and OCS 7340, and take a different suite of electives than students entering through the Quantitative Methods Portal.

An example curriculum is provided below:


Required Courses
(9 credits)

OCS 7431 Stock Assessment Analysis of Marine Fish Populations (3)
OCS 7340 Population Dynamics Modeling (3)

OCS 7001 FSAC Capstone Course (3)
One Course from the Ecology Topic Area (3)

(9 credits; at least one course from 2 of the remaining 4 topic areas)

A student will, therefore, have at least one course from at least 3 of the 5 topic areas.

Resource Management Portal 

RNR 4023-Marine Fisheries Resources (3)

RNR 4040-Fisheries Management (3)

OCS 7432-Marine Fisheries Policy and Management (3)

OCS 7431 Stock Assessment Analysis of Marine Fish Populations (3)

Resource Economics Portal  

ENVS 7047-Environmental Economics and Policy (3)

ENVS 7700-Integrated Environmental Issues (3)

AGEC 7513-Dynamics in Natural Resource Economics (3)

ECON 4325 (or 7325) Applied Resource Economics

Human Dimensions and Communication Portal  

ENVS 4266-Ocean Policy (3)

Dimensions and RNR 4107-Human Dimensions in Natural Resources (3)

GEOG (ANTH) 4086 – Human-Environment Interactions

OCS 4038-Scientific Writing and Collaboration (2)

Quantitative Methods Portal

EXST 7025-Biological Population Statistics I (3)

EXST 7025-Biological Population Statistics II (3)

EXST 4025-SAS Programming (3)

EXST 7037-Multivariate Statistics (3)

BIOL 7080 Population Ecology (3)

OCS 7340 Population Dynamics Modeling (3)

OCS 4410 Ecosystem Modeling and Analysis (3)

 Ecology Portal  

RNR 4037-Biology of Fishes (3)

RNR 7020-Ecology of Fishes (3)

BIOL 7083-Community Ecology (3)

OCS 7330-Preparing for Studies of Fisheries and Other Aquatic Resources (3)

OCS 7335-Marine Fisheries Recruitment (3)

OCS 4012 – Biology of Marine Vertebrates

RNR 4106-Techniques in Limnology and Fisheries (2)

OCS 4001-Marine Fisheries and Mariculture (3)


There is no accreditation available for this certificate.

Faculty, Administration, & Other Resources

The Certificate resides in the LSU Graduate School under the direction of the Dean. The Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences provides the administrative support for all students in the Program. A multi- college steering committee is responsible for the management of the Certificate. Dr. James Cowan (or his designee with the approval of the Dean of the Graduate School) coordinates the steering committee and serve as chairperson of the steering committee. Committee membership will be one representative from each of the key participating units besides Oceanography and Coastal Sciences (Environmental Sciences, Experimental Statistics, Biological Sciences, Renewable Natural Resources, and Agricultural Economics). Admission to the Program and determination of completion of the Certificate will be based upon interaction of the steering committee with the Dean of the Graduate School. Degree-seeking students can begin, end, or complete the Certificate at any point during their degree program.

For more information about this Certificate Program contact:

James H. Cowan, Jr., , 225-578-9400 or the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, 225-578-6508,  at the Louisiana State University

More Information

FSAC Flyer