WHY DO SEA SEMESTER?
SEA semester]The global ocean covers nearly three-quarters of Earth, yet 90% is largely unexplored. It provides half of the oxygen in the atmosphere, regulates the planet’s climate, and delivers food security for the world’s population. However, threats such as climate change, marine pollution, habitat loss, and
overfishing jeopardize its health and sustainability.
Since 1971,we have taken nearly 8,000 students safely to sea and home again while providing an experiential opportunity to gather firsthand knowledge that will influence students’ lifelong relationships with the ocean. As our society becomes more aware of how integral the oceans are to the planet, from climate patterns to energy production to the origins of life itself, we must also understand how to conserve these important resources. Moving beyond the textbook toward practical application, hands-on research, and personal experience, SEA Semester prepares students to take a more active role in solving today’s environmental problems.
SEA Semester offers the sailing adventure of a lifetime grounded in academic coursework for transferable credit. All 12-week SEA Semester programs carry 17-18 credits; the Summer Sessions offer 3-11 depending on the program. Credits are issued either through Boston University and will appear on your AU transcript.
In the classroom, SEA Semester has a maximum student-teacher ratio of 8:1 and 3:1 while at sea. All program faculty have the highest professional degrees in their fields, and many are alumni of the program.SEA has received funding for our shipboard labs through the NSF, NOAA, and NASA as a result of the long history of success of SEA in ocean research and education. 119 of our alumni are faculty members who teach in environmental disciplines at 112 colleges/universities including Stanford University, Colby College, Smith College, Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, Cornell University, and Columbia University.
We foster learning communities that allow students to work together to tackle large scale global issues from multidisciplinary perspectives. Students develop teamwork, decision-making, and problem-solving skills in a real world environment while assuming increasing levels of responsibility at sea. Practical skills gained include critical thinking, written and oral communication, inquiry and analysis, and information literacy. About 75% of SEA alumni reported improved self-confidence and self-reliance as a result of SEA Semester. The Woods Hole Community, a village in the Town of Falmouth on the southwestern corner of Cape Cod, is a world center for marine, biomedical, and environmental science. SEA is located in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, a globally recognized center for ocean and scientific exploration. Students have access to collaborations with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Marine Biological Lab (MBL), United States Geological Survey (USGS), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and Woods Hole Research Center. Our students visit the facilities of our well-renowned neighbors, and attend presentations by local and visiting researchers. All students have full access to the MBL/WHOI library, the finest oceanographic research library in the world.
Life on Shore
Under supervision from an on-site Head Resident, students live in one of our fully furnished coed cottages in either a double or triple single-sex room. With their classmates, they share the responsibilities of communal living including food shopping, cooking, and cleaning. Each week, all houses receive a prepaid grocery card (included in the program cost). Students are responsible for budgeting appropriately, satisfying everyone’s dietary needs and requirements, and preparing all meals. We consider the shore component to be a sort of extended pre-departure orientation. Coursework in Woods Hole prepares students academically to go to sea as mariners, scientists, and global citizens; campus life prepares students for the demands of living and working together on the ship.
Life at Sea
Boarding one of SEA’s ships is like visiting a foreign country. At sea, students will join a culture steeped with strong customs, speak a traditional maritime language, and encounter a part of the world few people have the opportunity to experience. Life is busy as students process oceanographic samples, participate in classes, stand watch in shifts during the around-the-clock schedule, and delve into navigation, science, engineering, cooking, and cleaning. Teamwork takes precedence as they share responsibility for the ship and the well-being of their shipmates. Relying on each other is essential for the creation of a tight-knit community, where privacy is limited. Learning to balance their time on watch with sleeping, eating, and relaxing is part of adapting to shipboard life.
Learn more about the ships
or take a virtual tour
Marine Biodiversity & Conservation
March 21 - April 15: Shore I April 18 - May 19: At Sea May 23 - June 11: Shore II in Woods Hole 18 credit hours
An integrated semester that applies modern biodiversity research to place-based resource management in the coastal and open ocean. Students will conduct authentic biodiversity and policy research that contributes directly to the international effort to protect the Sargasso Sea. They will then present their research findings and policy recommendations to a panel of invited experts as part of a formal, professional symposium.
: Although this program begins in March, it is designed to take the place of a full spring term on your home campus. Many semester students take advantage of the opportunity to conduct an internship or travel between the end of their fall semester and the start of this program.
This semester attracts upper-level science students interested in complementing marine science research with the wisdom, concepts and skills necessary to effectively operate within the world of public policy. To be eligible, students must have taken at least three lab science courses (one at 300-level or higher) or received permission from SEA faculty.