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Sea Education Association

Hamilton Fall at SEA

Congratulations on your January acceptance to Hamilton College!

If you are interested in the ocean, or the environment in general, Sea Education Association (SEA) welcomes you to spend your fall exploring those topics with SEA Semester. Study three-quarters of the world in just one semester.

SEA Semester is based in the world-renowned oceanographic research village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. Since 1971, we have educated over 8,500 undergraduates just like you about the global oceans by combining academic study on shore with a sailing research voyage at sea. Our programs offer you the opportunity to study the ocean environment through the multiple disciplines of marine science, maritime history & culture, and nautical science.

You will spend time on our campus in Woods Hole, building a community with fellow students by engaging in learning to prepare you for the second half of the program at sea. You will then set sail on a research voyage aboard one of our two tall ship sailing research vessels.  While at sea, you will participate in all of the scientific mission and sailing operations of the vessel as a working crewmember. No sailing experience is required!

SEA Semester offers you an adventure with a purpose. Are you ready to set sail?


  • Earn credit towards your Hamilton degree! SEA Semester provides a Boston University transcript, and credits transfer for all courses in which you earn a B- or above.
  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of the world’s oceans
  • Make a long, blue-water sailing passage on a sustainably powered research vessel
  • Take your learning out of the classroom and into the field
  • Develop new skills in leadership, teamwork, and research

Ocean Exploration

Overview: Spring 2022 | North Atlantic >> Caribbean

Voyage Map

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This interdisciplinary study abroad program combines insights from the natural and social sciences in order to deepen students’ awareness of and appreciation for the ocean.


Cruise Track: St. Croix, USVI » Key West, FL
Destinations: No planned port stops at this time.
Port stops subject to change.


January 3, 2022 - March 25, - 2022

January 3, 2022 to February 14, 2022 – Shore component in Woods Hole.  Please note that Covid uncertainties may necessitate a partial remote shore component before boarding the ship in St. Croix.

February 15, 2022 to March 25,2022 – At sea, St. Croix to Key West. No planned portstops at this time but this will be evaluated based on current CDC guidance for Covid travel.

Program Description

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Understanding the oceans is an essential component 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 program 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. In this semester, students will address and answer some of the most pressing global questions related to the ocean environment.

During an initial 6-week shore component in Woods Hole, academic coursework will prepare students for their research voyage from St. Croix to Key West.  With full access to SEA faculty, guest lecturers, and the world-renowned Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution/Marine Biological Laboratory Library, students will design original research projects to be completed at sea. Maritime Studies coursework will complement this research by offering a wider historical and social perspective on the impact of humans on the world’s oceans, and on the experience of going to sea. Finally, Nautical Science coursework will introduce practical seamanship skills and the theoretical background necessary to for students safely operate a tall ship at sea.

As full, working members of the scientific team and sailing crew aboard the SSV Corwith Cramer, students will then spend the next six weeks at sea managing shipboard operations, navigating by the stars, analyzing oceanographic samples, while making a blue-ocean passage from the North Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. Perhaps most importantly, students will learn to challenge themselves and will develop new skills in leadership, teamwork, and research.

Course Descriptions & Syllabi

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Academic Credit

SEA Semester: Ocean Exploration carries 17 semester hour credits from Boston University for successful completion of the program.

Courses Descriptions

Maritime Studies (200-level, 3 credits)

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester.
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)

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester.
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)

(Previously titled Practical Oceanography I)
Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester.
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)

Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester.
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 Research (300-level, 4 credits)
Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester. Three lab science courses (one at the 300-level or higher) or consent of instructor.
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.

-- OR --

Practical Oceanographic Research (200-level, 4 credits)
Prereq: Admission to SEA Semester.
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.


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How to Apply

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Contact Kimberly in the SEA Semester Admissions Office

Application Checklist

  1. Get the $45 application fee waiver code
    As a courtesy, SEA Semester waives the application fee for all Hamilton Jan applicants. Contact your Admissions Counselor, Kimberly Gniadek, for the waiver code: 508-444-1925 or
  2. Complete an application form
    Apply online.
  3. Submit two writing samples (500-750 words each)
    List your full name on each. Submit via email to or uploaded online.
    • Two-part original essay (500-750 words): Why have you chosen to apply to SEA Semester and what do you expect to gain from your experience? How will participation in Ocean Exploration complement your education? Be sure to address both questions.
    • Academic writing sample of your own choosing (2-4-page excerpt if longer than 4 pages). This should be a reflection of your best written work from a recent course, and on a topic applicable to SEA Semester (science, environmental studies, history, literature, etc.). Please include your name and the context of the sample (course title and brief description of the assignment). Poetry or college entrance essays may be submitted only as a secondary sample.
  4. Request and submit transcript
    A copy of your high school transcript may be emailed to, uploaded online, or mailed to SEA Office of Admissions at P.O. Box 6, Woods Hole, MA 02543.
  5. Submit two (2) academic references
    Both should be from high school teachers, at least one from someone who has taught you within the past year. We welcome additional references (i.e. coach, academic, personal, etc.) but these are supplementary to the two academic references. The online application will provide a link to email the reference form to your teachers directly. If you require a PDF version, please click here.
  6. Schedule an interview with your Admissions Counselor
    A phone or Skype interview is required. Topics of conversation may include academic and extracurricular interests, previous experiences living or working in small group settings, your expectations for life at sea, etc. The interview is also a great opportunity for you to ask questions about SEA Semester!