PIER is an approved UCSD Specialization available in 11 UCSD departments (Anthropology, Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Economics, Ethnic Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, Rady School of Management, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Visual Arts).  The Specialization will acknowledge interdisciplinary skills trainees acquire beyond a traditional disciplinary Ph.D.

Ethnic Studies and Visual Arts Majors TBD June 2020

Note:  Current Ph.D.students outside the approved PIER departments may apply with support of their faculty advisor.  If admitted, CMBC will work with the new department and Graduate Council to amend PIER and approve a new degree code for the additional department.
PIER Brochure 2021
PIER Summary 2021
PIER Faculty (as of June 2020)


Training for UCSD Ph.D. Students
Solving threats to the oceans and human society in the face of global change requires collaboration between disciplines.   PIER is designed to train students to find creative and practical solutions within ecological, social, economic, and ethical constraints.

CMBC is seeking the next generation of scholars capable of confronting the biological and societal issues with respect to the health of the world’s ocean.   We are interested in people that bring unusual and valuable skills to the program and think creatively about how to solve environmental problems.

16 unit summer boot camp
2 unit interdisciplinary forum (IFER)
8 units outside the home department

How to apply:
Existing UCSD Ph.D. students in most departments are eligible to participate after completing core course requirements in the home department. All applicants must submit a two page PIER essay to akellum@ucsd.edu. The essay should expand on the applicant’s personal and research goals and how they will benefit personally from the integration of that natural, and social sciences or humanities.  Existing students will also need a letter of support from their graduate advisor. Departments who nominate candidates to PIER are responsible for that student’s summer stipend.  The graduate advisor letter must acknowledge this. The essay and support letter are due by the last day of JANUARY for existing students.

Candidates to SIO:  SIO recommends candidate to PIER apply as a candidate for a Scripps Ph.D. Submit a separate 2 page PIER essay as part of the Ph.D. application. Beyond what is in your statement of purpose, this essay should describe your personal and research goals and how these will benefit from the integration of natural and social sciences or humanities. Upload this essay on the additional documents page of the application.

There are hundreds of Ph.D. applicants to SIO.  We recommend PIER candidates make contact with a potential PIER advisor (see faculty list above).

The PIER specialization is NOT a funding mechanism but a way to acknowledge interdisciplinary skills and training beyond a traditional Ph.D.
All students accepted into PIER must have summer support provided their department or advisor.  CMBC provides summer session registration and campus bases summer fees for all PIER students.

PIER Proposal as approved June 6, 2016 available for download:
PIER Proposal

Donors who wish to support PIER students can give on-line to CMBC Fellowship Fund.

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