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Oceanography, BS

Bachelor (ISCED 2011 level 6)


Duration 8 semesters
Cost resident US $11,456; nonresident US $38,166 per year

Oceanography - study of the marine environment and its interactions with the earth, the biosphere, and the atmosphere - is prompted both by the intellectual desire to understand how the oceans move and how life develops in a salty, cold environment, and the need to use wisely the ocean's resources for the benefit of humanity. As an interdisciplinary science, oceanography integrates the basic principles of biology, chemistry, geology, physics, geophysics, mathematics, botany, zoology, meteorology, and geography. Applications of high technology to oceanographic instrumentation and vessels, increasingly sophisticated computers, satellite remote sensing, and innovative methodologies are rapidly opening new possibilities for exploration and study. Oceanography is divided into four areas of emphasis:

Biological Oceanography examines the processes governing the distribution, abundances, and production of plants, animals, and nutrients in the oceanic ecosystem. Emphasis is on investigations of bacteria, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and benthic organisms.

Chemical Oceanography investigates the complex chemistry, distribution, and cycling of dissolved substances, nutrients, and gases in seawater, the mechanisms controlling them, and their origins and fates.

Marine Geology and Geophysics studies marine sediments (their formation, transport, and deposition); ocean basin formation (plate tectonics); processes governing shoreline formation; and the origin, structure, and history of the oceanic crust and upper mantle.

Physical Oceanography endeavors to understand and predict motions in the sea from millimeters through tidal and current scales to the great ocean gyres, the distribution of physical properties (temperature, salinity, sea ice), and air-sea interaction and its implications for climate.

Bachelor of Science

Suggested Pre-College Courses: Interest in natural sciences and a good record in high school science courses, particularly mathematics. One year each of biology, chemistry, physics, and earth sciences recommended.

Suggested First- and Second-Year College Courses: MATH 124; CHEM 120 or CHEM 142 and CHEM 152; BIOL 180, BIOL 200; ESS 210 or ESS 211; PHYS 121; either OCEAN 215 or CSE 160; OCEAN 200, OCEAN 201, OCEAN 210, OCEAN 220, OCEAN 285, OCEAN 286, and OCEAN 295; and English composition.


Structural components
Industry partners
International component
Laboratory training
Practical/Field work
Research Project

ISCED Categories

Ocean Literacy
Physical and chemical oceanography
Environmental protection technology