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At-Sea Summer Program for High School Students

SEA Expedition

SEA Expedition is a 2-week offshore summer program for rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Centered on learning by doing, SEA Expedition is a multidisciplinary experience that welcomes students to participate in every aspect of a challenging offshore sailing and oceanographic expedition. SEA Expedition occurs entirely aboard the Sailing School Vessel (SSV) Corwith Cramer, one of two sailing research vessels operated by SEA.

Student Experience at Sea

Under the tutorage of professional scientists and crew, SEA Expedition students gain hands-on experience conducting oceanographic research, sailing a tall ship, understanding of the complexities of creating and managing marine sanctuaries, and developing crucial leadership and teamwork skills. Life at sea is fast-paced. Activities continue on a 24-hour basis throughout the program, and each student is assigned to a watch team of eight people with whom they rotate throughout a day-and-night schedule. Busy as things are, there is still enough free time to make friends, keep a journal, climb aloft to enjoy sunrises, sunsets, and the night sky, and appreciate the awe inspired by the nature and beauty of the offshore setting. No prior sailing experience is necessary, the desire to learn is required!

Field-Based Research

SEA Expedition provides students with a unique opportunity to conduct marine research at sea. Our scientific voyages focus on one or both of two protected offshore marine environments near Cape Cod, MA – Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Northeast Canyons & Seamounts Marine National Monument. Both are important habitats for rare and endangered species – whales, turtles, seabirds – along with countless other marine organisms. Data collected by SEA Expedition students contribute to a cumulative data set that provides critical annual monitoring of these marine protected areas for key stakeholders. These data include biodiversity information, sea temperature and salinity, chemical nutrient measurements, sediment samples, visual and acoustic recording of whales and vessel traffic, and more. Scientific studies are given human background context with discussions of the history and policies behind the marine protected areas we visit. Students return home with a broader sense of the ocean’s importance to our planet and the need to preserve this precious resource for future generations.

Sail Training & Seamanship

Central to the SEA experience is the challenge of forming a team to operate a sailing ship at sea. This is accomplished through the sail training and seamanship components of SEA Expedition. Teamwork, leadership, community, and a sense of shared mission are core values of all SEA programs, and having students take responsibility for and participate in all operations of a modern sailing research vessel cultivate these life skills. The captain and USCG licensed mates use instruction in navigation, sail handling and watch leadership to explore communication, thoughtful participation, and a planned approach to tasks – all essential in school, the workplace, and in learning to deal successfully with dynamics or unplanned events. SEA Expedition participants grow not only as students, but as individuals and contributing members of a ship’s company. This in turn fosters a deeper understanding of their own potential and ability to influence our world.


SEA Expedition is an academically rigorous program. In addition to routine watch standing duties that are a part of each student’s experience at sea, lectures, discussions, and written assignments are also part of the learning process. There is always something new to see, learn, or do!

Application & Admission

The program is open to high school students who have completed their freshman, sophomore, or junior years and have successfully completed at least one high school level science and one high school level mathematics course. Application review will begin in January 2018, and admissions decisions will be made on a rolling basis with monthly reviews until the program is full (24 student capacity in each session).

Interested students are welcome to apply online beginning in October 2017.

Required Materials:

  1. Online Application & Application Fee
  2. Original One-Page Essay
    Why have you chosen to apply to an SEA High School Summer Program? What do you expect to gain from your experience, and what do you expect to contribute to the program? Please email to admission@sea.edu.
  3. Official High School Transcript
    E-transcripts may be emailed to admission@sea.edu. Hard copies may be submitted via email to admission@sea.edu or by fax to 800-977-8516.
  4. Academic Reference Form
    This should be from a high school level instructor who has taught you within the past year. Ideally, your current science teacher. The online application will provide a link to email the reference form to your teacher directly.

Financial Aid

A limited number of need-based scholarships are available. To apply, send the following to the SEA Admission Office:

  • A letter from your parent explaining your family’s financial situation. This should address the number of children in college or private schools, special circumstances such as high medical bills or unemployment, etc. It should also include the amount that your family can contribute toward the program cost.
  • Your supporting parent’s most recent Federal Tax Return.

Financial aid applications are due by April 20, 2018. Awards are determined after acceptance to the program; recipients will be notified by email.

Year-round residents of Cape Cod and the Islands should contact Dale Dean ddean@sea.edu for information about SEA’s Cape & Islands Scholarship, a need-based scholarship for our neighbors.

Alumni of the Woods Hole Children’s School of Science should contact Dale Dean ddean@sea.edu for information about scholarships available to them.

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