SEA Education Association (SEA)
Field Programs in Marine & Environmental Studies
Fall/Spring Semester Program
SEA Education Association (SEA) offers college students a study abroad that challenges them intellectually and physically by combining the sailing adventure of a lifetime with the study of the deep ocean.
SEA students participate in a 12-week program that takes place half on shore and half at sea. The interdisciplinary program begins in Woods Hole, MA one of the world's great centers for ocean research.
SEA Semester: Ocean Exploration is the perfect program for any student interested in taking a firsthand look at the oceans. This program attracts students from all majors who are interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of our world's oceans: both science majors who are looking for field research opportunities, and non-science majors who are hoping to fulfill science requirements in a hands-on way!
While there is an emphasis on oceanography, the curriculum is designed for students representing a wide diversity of backgrounds and interests. Because the program combines multiple academic disciplines, it draws students from majors as varied as history, environmental science, biology, journalism, and studio art.
SEA Semester operates on a rolling admissions basis, so there are no application deadlines. Students are accepted on a case-by-case basis until the program is full.
CLICK HERE to watch the SEA Semester Video
Understanding the oceans is an essential aspect of appreciating how the world works and how we relate to it as human beings. The sea is so complex that it is impossible to comprehend from the perspective of a single academic discipline. With that in mind, this interdisciplinary semester combines insights from oceanography, the humanities, and the social sciences with practical skills in seamanship, allowing students to deepen their awareness of and appreciation for the ocean through hands-on research and personal experience. Each semester offers a unique academic theme allowing students to address and answer some of the most pressing global questions related to the ocean environment.
On Shore in Woods Hole - During the 6-week shore component, intensive academic coursework prepares students for their research cruise. With full access to SEA faculty and the world-renowned Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution/Marine Biological Laboratory Library, students design original research projects to be completed at sea. Maritime Studies provides a wider historical and social perspective on the impact of humans on the world's oceans, and on the experience of going to sea. Nautical Science introduces practical seamanship skills and the theoretical background necessary to safely operate a tall ship on the open ocean.
At Sea on the Open Ocean - As full, working members of the scientific team and sailing crew on one of SEA's state-of-the-art research vessels, students manage shipboard operations, navigate by the stars, analyze oceanographic samples, and visit foreign ports off the beaten path. Most importantly, students learn to challenge themselves and develop new leadership, teamwork, and research skills. Depending on the semester, students may have the option to choose between sailing in the Caribbean, Atlantic, or Pacific.
See Pre-Approved SEA Semester Course Listing
NOTE: Core Curriculum designations on this list pertain to the OLD Core only
Maritime Studies (200-level, 3 credits) - Relationship between humans and the sea. History, literature and art of our maritime heritage. Ships as agents of contact change. Political and economic challenges of contemporary marine affairs. Destination-specific focus.
Nautical Science (200-level, 3 credits) - Learn the fundamentals of sailing ship operation, in preparation for direct application at sea. Navigation (piloting, celestial and electronic), weather, engineering systems, safety, and sail theory. Participate as an active member of the ship’s crew on an offshore voyage.
Oceanographic Field Methods (200-level, 4 credits) - Exposure to basic oceanographic sampling methods. Participate in shipboard laboratory operations to gain experience with deployment of modern oceanographic equipment and collection of scientific data at sea. Emphasis on practicing consistent methods and ensuring data fidelity.
Oceanography (200-level, 3 credits) - Explore how interconnected ocean characteristics (bathymetry, seawater chemistry, biological diversity) and processes (plate tectonics, surface and deep-water circulation, biological production) shape global patterns across multiple scales. Discuss destination-specific environmental issues and hot topics in marine research.
Your Choice of Research Courses:
Directed Oceanographic Reseach (300-level, 4 credits) - Design and conduct original oceanographic research. Collect data and analyze samples. Compile results in peer-reviewed manuscript format and share during oral or poster presentation session. Emphasis on development of research skills and written/oral communication abilities.
Practical Oceanographic Reseach (200-level, 4 credits) - Introduction to oceanographic research. Design a collaborative, hypothesis-driven project following the scientific process. Collect original data. Conduct analysis and interpretation, then prepare a written report and oral presentation.
All students are expected to live on the SEA campus in student housing. Each house accommodates 10 students. Please take note of the following:
- The cost of food is included in your program cost. Each house is provided with a weekly prepaid grocery card. Students provide their own food and do their own cooking in fully equipped kitchens. You will plan menus, shop, cook, and clean after meals as a house. This setup provides great community building!
- Bring bed linens and towels. Each student is provided with a pillow and a standard size twin bed. There are laundry facilities in one of the student cottages.
- Each student bedroom has desks and storage areas.
- Students may bring cars to campus. A bicycle is also helpful to have during the Shore Component (spring, summer, fall).
- No pets allowed.
On board ship, you will share space with up to 35 people. Your bunk will line the inside of the ship somewhere between the bow and the stern. Each bunk has two small storage areas. Though there is very little personal space, your ship and shipmates become your home and family for six weeks.
Take a virtual tour of one of SEA's ships!
For a detailed description of program costs please see the Program Cost in the box at the top of this webpage. Tuition is paid to USD, while program fees are paid directly to SEA. Sea Education Association (SEA) is pleased to announce a variety of merit-based financial aid awards for SEA Semester students. For more information, please click here.
Passport is required for all international travel. SEA will send information about country entry requirements. Be sure to follow all instructions from SEA.
CLICK HERE to watch the SEA Semester Video
Download the SEA Viewbook