Research in the Institute concentrates on four main areas and their interrelationships:
- Coastal Ecology focuses on nearshore and estuarine ecological interactions important for living marine resources and environmental quality.
- Coastal Geoscience emphasizes coastal and atmospheric processes, geomorphology, climatology, and hydrology as they affect the use and development of watersheds, the coastal plain, barrier islands, and aquatic systems.
- Social Science and Coastal Policy examines politics and public policy, natural resource economics, coastal hazards, tourism, and demographic and social behaviors as they relate to coastal resources management.
- Coastal and Marine Economics and Policy highlights economic analysis of coastal resource management issues and the implications of coastal and marine policy choices.