Master's in Aquatic Systems Ecology


The Master's in Aquatic Systems Ecology responds to the immediate need to support the continuous academic training of professionals in this area. From a broader perspective, the program seeks to fulfill a fundamental social role in Chile's Antofagasta Region: training high-level human talent that responds critically to the growing need to face environmental challenges rising as a result of industrial development, with the consequent deterioration in natural resources it brings.

The Master's in Aquatic Systems Ecology program is academia-oriented; it has a strong scientific focus and provides multidisciplinary training and analysis tools that allow graduates to solve problems and bridge over gaps in knowledge.

Overall Goal
  • To train graduates with skills to carry out research in Aquatic Systems Ecology, capable of addressing gaps in knowledge and evaluating and developing proposals for sustainable resource management within a context of global change, and being a part of multidisciplinary research teams, communicating relevant scientific information to their peers, decision makers and the community at large.
Specific Goals
  • To deliver up-to-date knowledge, aiming to improve the understanding of ecological and evolutionary processes that explain biological patterns from the individual scale to the general ecosystem.
  • To train graduates capable of critically evaluating theory and applying different qualitative and quantitative tools to address issues related to the sustainability of aquatic systems within a context of global change.
  • To train graduates able to be a part of multidisciplinary research groups related to the development of their research work.
  • To develop the skills to communicate scientific findings in the aquatic systems field to peers, decision makers and the community at large.

Graduates of the University of Antofagasta’s Master’s in Aquatic Systems Ecology program have the skills to successfully perform in both the professional and academic fields of aquatic systems ecology, as well as being able to pursue a Doctoral Degree and/or to continue researching by being a part of interdisciplinary teams in research centers or academia, where they will stand out due to their ability to communicate scientific knowledge both to academia and the community. They can also work as a science consultant for both public and private institutions that deal with the management, protection, and resource sustainability of the aquatic environment.

A graduate from the Master’s in Aquatic Systems Ecology program will be able to:

  • Display deep conceptual and methodological skills in the area, with a reflexive and critical attitude based in furthering the development of knowledge about aquatic systems.
  • Analyze the ecological processes that are involved in the different levels of biological organization, as well as in the dynamics and functioning of aquatic ecosystems.
  • Apply quantitative and qualitative analytical tools to evaluate and predict changes at population, community, and ecosystem levels in a context of global change.
  • Formulate proposals and carry out research to address problems and knowledge gaps in the aquatic systems field, all within the framework of sustainability.
  • Communicate research results in the different areas of the aquatic systems field.
  • Be a part of interdisciplinary research teams, by making use of their training and contributing to the understanding and solving of problems within the aquatic systems field.

The Master’s in Aquatic Systems Ecology program comprises the following research areas:

Patterns and processes in aquatic ecology:
This research area deals with different organizational levels and biological interactions; populations, communities, and ecosystems; and their interactions with genetical, evolutionary and biogeographic processes, covering various marine and freshwater environments, including extreme and/or desert environments.

Applied Ecology in aquatic systems:
This research area focuses on aspects of environmental application and conservation in the marine and freshwater areas within the following fields: Eco-toxicology/Pollution, Invasive Species, Epidemiology, Paleo-oceanography/Sedimentology, Modeling and Hydro-biological resources.

The curriculum consists of 5 basic courses, corresponding to 55 SCT credits, and requires the approval of 5 or more credits in complementary courses.

Additionally, at the end of their third semester, the student must present and defend a thesis project before an evaluation committee, whose approval will award them the status of degree candidate. In order to complete their studies and achieve the Master’s academic degree, the prepared thesis must constitute an original contribution to knowledge, which will be defended before an evaluation committee.

Semester Course/Activity SCT Credits
I Aquatic environments structures 10
Statistics and experiment design 10
Energy flow in aquatic systems 10
II Ecology and evolution in aquatic systems 10
Thesis project seminar 15
Complementary courses 5
III Thesis I 30
IV Thesis II 30
Program’s total credits 120

Students accepted into the Program must pay the following annual fees for 2021.


Registration Fee: $150.000 CLP
Annual program fee: $1.900.000 CLP

Application calendar:
Applications will be open until December 30 each year.


This is an accredited Master’s program, therefore, all regular students, including new entrants, may apply for ANID scholarships meant for Master’s studies. More information in ANID’s webpage at https://www.anid.cl/concursos/

Foreign students may apply to AGCI scholarships in their home country. (https://www.agci.cl/index.php/becas/becas-para-extranjeros).

There are internal financing systems that may cover the entirety or a portion of student costs, including the annual fee. Scholarship System for Students of the Postgraduate Programs of the University of Antofagasta, according to Exempt Decree No. 285 of 22.05.2020, considers the following:

  • Program Fee Release scholarships exempt their beneficiary from the obligation to pay their respective program’s tuition fees, either fully or partially. However, they must still pay the registration fee in full.
  • Academic Excellence scholarships are awarded to postgraduate students in accredited programs or programs in accreditation or reaccreditation processes (with a report sent to the accrediting entity), considering the beneficiary’s academic merits, and they consist in a reduction of the program’s total tuition fees along with a monthly allowance. However, they must still pay the registration fee.
  • Financial Aid to attend congresses, which consists in support for accredited postgraduate students (or those in the accreditation process), will be granted after an application process that is available twice a year (first semester of each year for congresses taking place within that year’s second semester, and second semester for those taking place in the following year’s first semester). This support will consist of a financial aid equivalent to a verifiable maximum of 15 UF for national congresses and 25 UF maximum for international congresses. For this purpose, that year’s January 2nd UF value will be used.
  • Productivity Allocation scholarships are intended to incentivize students taking postgraduate programs to publish their research in scientific journals. If the publication is in a journal indexed in Web of Science’s (WoS) Journal Citation Report (JCR), this will consist of 15 UF.
    If the publication is in the SCOPUS or Scielo systems, this will consist of 6 UF. For this purpose, that year’s January 2nd UF value will be used, and it will only be awarded once per publication.
  • Other scholarships, without excluding the aforementioned benefits, Research Centers or other units within the University may use their own resources to provide the University’s graduate students with other benefits.

Admission requirements for the Master’s in Aquatic Systems Ecology program are established in the General Postgraduate Teaching Regulations of the University of Antofagasta (Institutional Postgraduate Regulations).

Any person who holds a Bachelor’s Degree or Professional Degree in areas compatible with those of the program, with a level and contents knowledge equivalent to those necessary to obtain a bachelor’s degree, may apply for the Master’s Program.

Applicants must submit the documents outlined in Article 17, which must be sent to the Program’s Director, in the corresponding forms and within the established deadlines.

According to Article 20, applicants must accompany their application with the following documents:

  • Letter stating and justifying their interest in entering the program.
  • Legalized copy of their professional diploma or academic degree.
  • Grades report.
  • Two letters of reference, at least one of which must come from higher education academia.
  • Copy of ID card and/or Passport.
  • Sponsorship or authorization by the applicant’s institution, when applicable.
  • Curriculum vitae.
  • Application form.

Foreign applicants must submit their documents, duly legalized by the corresponding authorities, during their first semester.

Applicants must be subject to a personal interview with the Program’s Board and must have the support of one of the Program’s core professors, who shows interest in working with the student, committing to guide and support them in their seminars and thesis.

Applicants Selection
The selection process begins after the reception of the applicant’s submitted documents:

  • Application form available on the University of Antofagasta’s website.
  • Applicant’s Curriculum Vitae.
  • Letter stating the applicant’s motivation to enroll in the program and their academic plans.
  • Copy of the applicant’s ID card and, in the case of foreigners without residence, a valid passport.
  • Copy of the applicants’ undergraduate grades report.
  • Copy of the applicant’s Bachelor’s Degree. Foreign applicants must submit their documents, duly legalized by the corresponding authorities, during their first semester in the program.
  • 2 letters of recommendation or contact names of 2 academic and/or researcher recommenders who have been a part of the applicant’s education. At least one of the letters or contact must be from someone in the university academic field and that has been a part of the applicant’s training. These letters should be sent to the Program Director and/or the program’s secretary, indicating the name of the recommended applicant in the email’s subject line.
  • The applicant must contact one of the program’s professors to support their application. Program Management then confirms the professor’s approval to support the applicant.

During the pre-selection process, received documentation is reviewed and analyzed by the Program’s Selection Committee, evaluating the applicant’s eligibility through a criteria-based weighing system. Pre-selected applicants will then be summoned to a personal interview with the Program’s Selection Committee. In the event that the pre-selected students are not from the Antofagasta region, the interview will be carried out through an electronic platform after agreeing to a day and time.

During the selection process, a personal interview is also carried out by the Program’s Selection Committee, aiming to evaluate the applicant’s scientific motivation and professional plans.

Finally, the resolution process develops as follows:

  • Once applicants selection has been completed, in accordance with article 21 of the General Graduate Courses Regulations, the program’s director will submit the applicants selection act to the Graduate School’s direction for their confirmation and archival by the Alumni Management Unit.

* The Director of the program must formally inform students about whether they were selected.

Selection process weighing table

Application Calendar
Applications will be open until December 30 each year.

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