Marine Science Program Distinction

Program Distinction in the MARS program requires a GPA greater than 3.5 and the completion of a special project.   MARS students with a GPA of 3.5 are not required to apply for Program Distinction. It is completely voluntary. Distinction projects are very time consuming, and students can reasonably decide that their time is better spent studying or doing internships.

A Program Distinction project can fall under one of these three categories:

  1. A research project developed and completed with a Stockton faculty member.
  2. A research project done outside of Stockton, such as during a summer research program (REU).
  3. Any other type of project approved by the MARS faculty (not necessarily research, but specific to Marine Science, such as a science communication project).

While all students are encouraged to engage in research and other types of projects, Program Distinction projects have special requirements:

  • Approval for the distinction project must be sought from a MARS faculty advisor.  
  • A short, written proposal must be submitted to the MARS faculty for final approval before starting (Options 1 and 3), or as soon as possible after deciding to use an Option 2 project.
  • The Program Distinction candidate must submit a written final report and give an oral or poster presentation.  
  • The project itself, the final report, and the presentation must be completed before the end of the student’s final semester.  It is recommended that students begin the project proposal by the end of the academic year prior to graduation to allow sufficient time for completion of the project.


  • Font size of 11 or greater.
  • Margins no smaller than 1 inch.
  • 1.5 paragraph spacing at minimum.
  • Cover page with title of proposal, student name, expected graduation date and project advisor name.
  • Description of project (4 pages maximum). Include a brief introduction of your project which places it into a broad context and provides references to the current scholarly trends, when appropriate.
    • Statement of the aims and objectives of the project. This statement should identify a concise goal(s) of the project.
    • Background. This section is used to demonstrate how familiar the student is with previous research in the field, and how the proposed research fits within the context of previous research.
    • Statement of the Procedures/Methodology. This section should include a plan of the proposed activities, how they will be accomplished and a rationale for using this procedure. 
    • Expected Results. Based on preliminary observations which guide further work, what are the expected outcomes?
    • Planned Presentation Venue. List the anticipated symposium, conference, or other venue where the project will be presented.  
  • Literature Cited (2 pages maximum). The format for the literature cited section will be chosen by the adviser and may be that used by any peer-reviewed journal in that particular field. The same format should be used for every reference.
  • Font size of 11 or greater.
  • Margins no smaller than 1 inch.
  • 1.5 paragraph spacing at minimum.
  • 10-15 pages.
  • General sections include:
    • Abstract – 250 words maximum.
    • Introduction – Should utilize information included in your project proposal.
    • Methodology - Should utilize information included in your project proposal, be sure to update your methodology to reflect the actual processes used.
    • Results.
    • Discussion.
    • Literature Cited.
  • Work with your project advisor to determine the specific format you will be following for your paper. Some helpful websites: 
  • How to Write a Paper in Scientific Journal Style and Format 
  • Scitable - Writing Scientific Papers

Program Distinction projects must be presented publicly, and a variety of options are acceptable.  The NAMS Research Symposium is commonly used, but candidates may also use poster presentations at scientific conferences (in-person or online) or other types of oral communication (upon consultation with the MARS faculty).  A copy of the poster or a video of the oral presentation must be submitted with the final report. Students will have an option, with faculty advisor approval, to post a recording of their presentation on the MARS program website.  - Writing Scientific Papers