Graduate Program Overview
The Ocean Sciences department offers both Master of Science and Doctorate degree programs. In addition to the core department faculty, affiliated faculty includes faculty from related disciplines within biology, chemistry, Earth sciences, environmental studies, and physics who sponsor students in the program.
The doctoral program leading to the Ph.D. degree in ocean sciences is designed with a core training in oceanography, supplemented and focused by advanced training in oceanography and in the traditional disciplines (biology, chemistry, Earth sciences, and physics) as chosen by the students and their advisors. Pathways within the program are differentiated from related degrees in the traditional disciplines by their focus on global-scale problems and interactions, a focus on the ocean, and their inherently interdisciplinary approach. Interdisciplinary projects across and between pathways are encouraged, as are interactions with faculty in related departments.
- Biological Oceanography The interactions of organisms with their chemical and physical environments. While this pathway includes research on the physiology and ecology of organisms, it differs from marine biology in the focus on the oceanographic setting of the organism in relationship to, for example, biogeochemical cycling and the effects of ocean currents on distributions of organisms. The focus is mainly on small oceanic life-forms (plankton and bacteria, molecular ecology) and their roles in the biogeochemical cycles of marine systems.
- Chemical Oceanography Chemical interactions of trace metals and radionuclides in the sea. Research includes development of analytical techniques and measurement of trace species in seawater and investigation of the effects and interactions of trace elements on biological processes using analytical and isotopic approaches.
- Geological Oceanography Paleoceanography, paleoclimatology, and sediment geochemistry. Research areas include the history of global geochemical cycles and composition of the ocean on various timescales, the fate and diagenesis of materials in sediments and their contribution to the paleoceanographic record, understanding ocean and climate history by the use of records of stable isotopes and trace elements, and paleoclimate modeling.
- Physical Oceanography The Physics and dynamics of the ocean and atmosphere. Research includes observational, computational, theoretical, and experimental physical oceanography, geophysical fluid dynamics, ocean acoustics, dynamical meteorology, climate, and global change.
The core training is provided through core courses in ocean sciences, a subset of which is taken by all students in the first two years, and reinforced by the student's seminars throughout the program. In addition to core courses in ocean sciences, preparation includes upper-division or graduate courses in ocean sciences and in the specialty discipline, graduate seminars, independent research credits, participation in departmental student seminar series, and a minimum requirement for the number of quarters as a teaching assistant. Requirements beyond the preparation include a dissertation based on original research with a public oral defense. There is no formal language requirement.
Whereas the doctoral program has an oceanographic orientation, the ocean sciences master's program is even broader and has traditionally attracted many students in marine biology and ecology. As with the doctoral program, students are encouraged to select a course of study and a research program that draws on the expertise of the core ocean sciences faculty and any of the affiliated faculty in other departments. Customized programs of study that combine related disciplines are supported in the master's program. The Master of Science includes coursework to provide depth and breadth in ocean sciences and a focused thesis to provide experience in original research. Graduates from the program are excellently prepared to take research or management positions in organizations concerned with the marine environment, become marine science educators, or enter first-rate doctoral programs in ocean sciences and related fields.