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Summester at the Coast
Summester at the Coast
The Summester at the Coast

May 20th - June 16th, 2015 on the Outer Banks, North Carolina
Hosted by the UNC Coastal Studies Institute, Manteo, NC
With academic credit provided through East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Questions can be addressed to J.P. Walsh,, 252-475-5483

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Download the Application HERE

Overview: The coast is where land and sea meet. It provides habitat for a diversity of life, and is home for many people, in small towns to large cities. Coasts can experience gentle breezes and violent storms, and these conditions bring recreation and tourism View of the Outer Banks, looking north from Nags Head, NC.  The area has beautiful beaches.  opportunities as well as damaging and dangerous hazards. Coastal areas are environmentally and economically complex and are best understood by living at them and seeing and experiencing their climate and culture. The coast of North Carolina is unique yet has similarities to many other areas, with an array of processes that cause constant change and societal needs that challenge sustainability. The Summester at the Coast is an undergraduate summer program that exposes students to coastal life and issues and enables students to learn firsthand about coastal geoscience and ocean research. The program is hosted at the UNC Coastal Studies Institute and gives students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reside and study on the Outer Banks of North Carolina for one month. The Summester occurs from mid-May to mid-June, a period typically with warm, pleasant weather and low tourist activity. The classes are designed at the sophomore-junior level with no prerequisites and should be accepted as elective and possibly major credit at most universities. Students will be responsible for ensuring credit is awarded at their home institutions.

Students study the NC coast Application:
Acceptance into the program will be competitive, based on academic performance and the student’s application narrative. Undergraduates from non-UNC schools are encouraged to apply and will enjoy living in the scenic and historic area. We look forward to the involvement of a group of students with a diverse background and life experiences. Students may apply to the program at any time. Application screening will start January 15th and will continue until courses are filled. Please email to let us know about your interest in the program.  You can obtain an application directly by clicking HERE. Upon acceptance and enrollment into the program, a non-refundable deposit will be required (this will be applied towards the program's cost). Full payment for the program will be due before the start of classes. Also, non-ECU students will need to apply to become vising ECU students ($75 fee).

Curriculum (subject to change):
Students interested in participating in the program must enroll in the two 3-credit classes and the 1-credit field trip course. Classes generally meet during the week with longer field trips on Friday.

The Atlantic Ocean and the Mid-Atlantic Coast
(3 credits; East Carolina Univ. course: GEOL 2500)
This class will review the history and oceanography of the Atlantic Ocean and will examine the morphology of and processes affecting the mid-Atlantic region using North Carolina as an example. The focus will extend from the Paleozoic to present and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The terrestrial, estuarine and oceanographic processes causing coastal change and associated sedimentation and stratigraphy will be discussed. The class will use nearby depositional environments as context for the discussion, and the co-requisite lab (1 credit) will involve related field trips.

Analysis Techniques and Methods of Coastal Ocean Research
(3 credits; East Carolina Univ. course: GEOL 2600)

Field trips will be taken to local beaches, bays, marshes and even the Gulf Stream!
This course will introduce students to lab and field methods used to examine oceanographic processes through hands-on experience. The goal of this course is to develop an understanding of the approach and tools used in scientific investigations on a variety oceanographic topics and give insight into the challenges faced in ocean research. Field work will be accomplished through land- or sea-based site visits to nearby coastal environments. Students will conduct a research project that involves sample collection, analysis, report generation and presentation.

Field-Trip Lab Class (typically Friday)

The Atlantic Ocean and the Mid-Atlantic Coast Lab
(1 credit; East Carolina Univ. course: GEOL 2501)

The R/V Riggs will be used to study and explore adjacent estuarine waters.
In this one-credit class students will experience first-hand a variety of different coastal environments that typify the Mid-Atlantic coast and will study their governing processes. During four day-long field trips, students will explore and analyze different coastal environments of northeastern North Carolina, specifically:
• Coastal plain rivers and wetlands (e.g., Roanoke or Tar River),
• Albemarle or Pamlico Sound (using the R/V Riggs, pictured)
• the Outer Banks (including beaches, dunes, marshes and inlets), and
• the Atlantic Ocean and its continental margin aboard a charter vessel.
Tailored readings and assignments will help students learn about and understand the coast, its evolution and its potential change in the future.

Tuition (including Room):
The Summester at the Coast will be an affordable educational experience for undergraduates. Costing an estimated $2,500 for the 7-credit program (not including ECU’s $75 Visiting Student Application Fee). Note, this cost does NOT include board (i.e., meals). Students will need to provide for themselves.

Classes and Accommodations:
Class lectures and lab work will be held in the soon-to-be completed new UNC CSI campus, which is ideally situated (see location below) and will include a 50,000 ft2 research/education building with state-of-the-art classrooms and labs. Students participating in the Summester will be housed in a nearby facility operated by the Friends of Elizabeth II. The well-maintained two-story building in Manteo, NC contains clean and comfortable bedrooms, a common kitchen & laundry room, 2 common living areas and several porches with rocking chairs. It is a smoke-free facility with no pets allowed. Students will share two-bedroom suites. Each suite has a connecting bathroom and two rooms with two twin beds and desks. There are large well-equipped common kitchen facilities. Students will be responsible for doing their laundry, purchasing their food and cooking their meals. Shared living areas are found on both levels. Each has a roomy seating area with a television and DVD player. A telephone is provided in each living area. Internet service is available free of charge. Quiet hours are observed from midnight to 8:00 AM.  Area beaches and attractions are a short drive away.  Learn more about Outer Banks attractions at  

TO APPLY: Fill out and email this application form to

UNC-CSI Research and Education Campus
UNC-CSI is located on the Outer Banks.
© Copyright 2015
UNC Coastal Studies Institute
UNC Coastal Studies Institute
850 NC 345, Wanchese, NC 27981 tel. 252-475-5400 fax 252- 475-3545