Ocean Sciences


You can find a more general FAQ about the graduate programs at the Rosenstiel School here.

Why study the ocean?

Life on Earth began in the ocean and past climates have been defined by the geography, productivity, and circulation of the prehistoric oceans. The ocean is a primary driver of Earth’s energy, carbon, and water cycles. With climate change our warming oceans are rising and acidifying, powering stronger hurricanes, melting the ice sheets, changing their circulation, and reshaping our coastlines. Observing and understanding these changes is a societal imperative as well as an extraordinary and rewarding personal challenge.

What makes Ocean Sciences at the Rosenstiel School unique?

The Rosenstiel School is one of only a handful of campuses dedicated to marine science nationwide and we have a global reputation for research excellence. Many of our facilities, including SUSTAIN, CSTARS, and the Research Vessel Walton Smith, are unparalleled. Within OCE we are a large body of diverse faculty able to offer a wide range of research topics and opportunities to graduate students.

What can I study?

Our Ocean Sciences faculty offers a broad range of research opportunities oriented around the dynamical ocean. Research topics include processes at the air-sea interface such as waves, submesoscale mixing, interfacial fluxes, and hurricane development; reef community connectivity and recruitment; the role of ocean eddies in water property fluxes, mixing, and air-sea coupling; biogeochemical cycling and carbon uptake; water property transformation and circulation using chemical tracers; regional ocean prediction, oil spill tracking and behavior; and large-scale ocean circulation and its role in climate. Look here for some of the projects available for the 2016-2017 academic year.

What is the typical track of a Ph.D. student in OCE?

As an OCE student you will focus on core courses from your research concentration in your first year of graduate school, taking a comprehensive exam covering all topics before delving more deeply into your research in your second year. Subsequent classes are elective and will depend on the research interests of you and your advisor. All students present their research to a thesis committee towards the end of their third year in order to qualify for Ph.D. candidacy. OCE students will typically defend in their fifth year, well prepared for job-hunting, with one publication and one or two further manuscripts in preparation. For more detailed information, please see the OCE Student Handbook.

Where are your graduates now?

OCE graduates often obtain prestigious postdoctoral positions and fellowships upon graduating and go on to become researchers, scientists, teachers, and professors in laboratories, colleges, and universities worldwide. Many of our alumni are found in the private sector, for example producing satellite data products, developing instrumentation, making coastal/environmental predictions, and geo-consulting. Some have careers in science policy, environmental management or protection, and at NGOs. Others have positions in scientific management, funding, and steering, both nationally and internationally (e.g. NSF, WMO). Recent graduates have moved on to positions at institutions such as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, NASA, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, the Bjerknes Climate Center, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, the Belmont Forum, and the MITRE Corporation, just to name a few.