Ocean Sciences Program Description

The Ocean Sciences Department includes faculty, students, and staff involved in oceanography and other marine sciences and offers undergraduate and graduate courses in these disciplines. Through faculty sponsors, students have access to a wide variety of research facilities and equipment, including on-campus analytical chemistry, geology, and molecular biology laboratories for marine research; computing and imaging facilities; an onshore marine laboratory two miles from campus (Long Marine Laboratory), with aquariums and holding tanks that are supplied with running sea water; and a unique field station on Año Nuevo Island Reserve (19 miles north of Santa Cruz), especially suited for studies on pinnipeds and marine birds. The department supports collaborative studies utilizing the innovative technologies of the nearby Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), the Naval Postgraduate School, Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station, California State University (CSU) Moss Landing Laboratory, and other facilities. Students may also work at other University of California facilities, including the Bodega Marine Laboratories and Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

In addition to research and instructional activities along the California coast, interests of the core faculty and their students include biological, chemical, and physical oceanography; sediment, marine, organic, and trace metal biogeochemistry; marine plankton, phytoplankton ecology, paleoceanography, aquatic microbial ecology, ecological modeling, and remote sensing (satellite oceanography); numeric modeling of coastal and basin-scale dynamics; and midwater ecology, climatology, among others.

Ocean Sciences Department affiliated faculty in other departments represent a deep resource of research interests and methodologies including those pertaining to coral reef and kelp forest ecology, plate tectonics and continental margins, marine mammal behavior and physiology, and natural products from marine organisms. Student research projects have included participation in major scientific expeditions to various marine environments ranging from Polar Regions to the tropics.

Undergraduate Programs

While offering a range of undergraduate courses, the Ocean Sciences Department presently only confers graduate degrees (Master of Science - M.S. or Doctor of Philosophy - Ph.D.) The undergraduate major in marine biology, sponsored by the Biological Sciences departments, includes required and elective courses in ocean sciences, and includes an ocean sciences concentration in Earth sciences for undergraduates. Students interested in ocean sciences should major in a discipline such as biology, marine biology, chemistry, Earth sciences, physics, or mathematics and take ocean sciences-related electives. Students with a bachelor's degree in one of these disciplines or equivalent coursework may apply directly for admission to the graduate program through the Division of Graduate Studies.

Graduate Programs

The graduate programs in ocean sciences are designed to prepare students for careers in research, teaching, and other environmentally related endeavors. The fundamental requirement for admission to the program is substantial evidence of superior scholarship and aptitude for original research. Preparation for admission to the graduate program in Ocean Sciences should comprise an undergraduate degree in the discipline of one of the program specialty areas (e.g. biology or marine biology, geology or Earth sciences, chemistry, or physical science) or an equivalent background. If a student does not have a degree in one of these areas, the student must demonstrate to their sponsor that they have taken the classes necessary to do their research.

The prerequisites for entering the Ocean Sciences Graduate program are a minimum of two quarters or semesters in each of the following: a calculus series, chemistry, biology, and physics. In addition, one course in each of the following is required: Earth sciences or geological principles, and statistics or biostatistics.