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  • Locations: At Sea, Multi-Destination; Woods Hole, MA, United States;
  • Program Terms: Fall
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Restrictions: AU applicants only
  • Dates / Deadlines
Fact Sheet:
Advisor: Christina Pondell Advising Required: Yes
Language Pre-requisite: None Minimum GPA: 2.75
Class Level Required for Admission: Sophomore standing Non-AU Students Accepted by AU: No
Language of Instruction: English Housing: Shared House, Ship
Internship: No Program Type: Not Direct Enrollment
Program Description:
SEA Semester® provides 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.

Academic Excellence + Experiential Learning
  • SEA Semester offers the sailing adventure of a lifetime grounded in academic coursework for transferable credit.
  • All programs include multidisciplinary curriculum with course offerings to suit all majors, and are designed to emphasize hands-on learning and independent research.
  • 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 the home institution (colleges or universities affiliated with SEA) or through transfer credit from Boston University or Hawaii Pacific University.
  • We have a maximum student-teacher ratio of 8:1 (3:1 at sea). SEA Semester students work more closely with faculty that at almost any other academic institution.
  • All SEA 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.
Learning Outcomes
  • 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
More Than One Million Miles Sailed
  • Since 1971,we have taken nearly 8,000 students safely to sea and home again while sailing over one million nautical miles.
  • SEA operates two 134’ sailing research vessels, both custom-designed and built for our educational purposes: the SSV Corwith Cramer and the SSV Robert C. Seamans.
  • The SSV Robert C. Seamans is the most sophisticated oceanographic research/sailing school vessel ever built in the United States.
  • SEA vessels are inspected and certified by the U.S. Coast Guard as Sailing School Vessels (SSV) and meet or exceed the Coast Guard safety requirements for their class.
Remarkable Alumni
  • Creating career paths: our expansive alumni body offers a network of internship, research, and employment opportunities, all made available in our online Alumni Directory
  • 75% of our alumni reported improved self-confidence and self-reliance as a result of SEA Semester
  • 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.
The Woods Hole Community
  • SEA is located in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, a globally recognized center for ocean and scientific exploration.
  • Our 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.
  • Our students have full access to the MBL/WHOI library, the finest oceanographic research library in the world.
Commitment to Affordability
  • SEA awards over $1 million each year in need-based aid and scholarships to qualified and motivated SEA Semester applicants.
  • SEA remains committed to making our programs affordable for all qualified and motivated students. We offer customized financial aid guidance and assistance.
  • Generous merit scholarships and need-based financial aid packages are available.
  • Federal aid applies (Stafford Loans, Plus Loans, Pell Grants).
  • Institutional aid may be transferred in many cases.
To apply, please email Dr. Christie Pondell at to make an appointment.

Sustainability in Polynesian Island Cultures & Ecosystems
August 28 – November 15, 2017
Aug. 28 – Sept. 22: On shore in Woods Hole
Sept. 25 – Nov. 6: At sea
Nov. 7 – 15: On shore in Auckland

This environmental studies semester takes an interdisciplinary look at the people and islands of Polynesia in an effort to learn what they can tell us about the global issues of environmental sustainability and cultural continuity.

Cruise Track: American Samoa » Auckland, New Zealand
Destinations: American Samoa › Tonga › Fiji › Auckland

Program Highlights
Share experiences through digital storytelling
Participate in collaborative stakeholder engagement
Explore Pacific island environments including Tonga & Fiji
Conduct on-site anthropological research

Who Should Apply?
This semester is particularly appropriate for Environmental Studies/Science majors but students from any major are encouraged to apply.

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Fall 2017 04/17/2017
Varies by program 08/28/2017 11/15/2017
NOTE: Aug. 28 - Sept. 22: On shore in Woods Hole Sept. 25 - Nov. 6: American Samoa > Tonga > Fiji > Auckland Nov. 7 - 15: On shore in Auckland
Fall 2018 04/13/2018 ** Varies by program 08/27/2018 11/14/2018
NOTE: Aug. 27 - Sept. 21: Shore I in Woods Hole; Sept. 24 - Nov. 5: At Sea (American Samoa > Tonga > Fiji > Auckland); Nov. 6 - 14: Shore II in Auckland

** The time it takes to receive an admissions decision varies greatly by program; it can take as little as two weeks or as long as several months. Contact AU Abroad for further details on your program's admissions timeline.

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