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Study at Sea

SEA Semester: Ocean Exploration

Study three-quarters of the world in just one semester… the oceans cover more than 70% of our planet, yet we know more about outer space than we do about our own waters. Spend one semester exploring the global ocean through multiple lenses with students from a variety of academic backgrounds. Challenge yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and take your learning out of the classroom and into the field. You’ll never look at the world in the same way again.

Overview: Fall 2018 | North Atlantic » Caribbean

Voyage Map

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Application Deadline: Rolling Admissions

What?

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.

Where?

Cruise Track: Woods Hole, MA » Grenada
Destinations: Woods Hole › Carriacou › Grenada
Port stops subject to change.

When?

September 4 – November 20, 2018

Sept. 2 - 3: Gap year student orientation
Sept. 4 – Oct. 12: On shore in Woods Hole
Oct. 13 – Nov. 20: At sea

Program Highlights

  • 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

Who Should Apply?

This semester at sea attracts study abroad students from all majors who are interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of our world’s oceans. It is also open to gap year/winter start students who have graduated from high school but not yet matriculated at a college or university.

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.

What better place to study than the North Atlantic? We rely on it for warmth, food, work, and recreation, yet it's changing fast. Ocean temperatures are rising, fish stocks are shifting, and hurricanes are getting stronger and more destructive. By joining this program, students will be in the unique position to work on cutting edge topics exploring how climate change is impacting the North Atlantic - all while sailing across one of the most exciting blue-water passages in the world!

During an initial 6-week shore component in Woods Hole, academic coursework will prepare students for their research voyage from Woods Hole to the Caribbean. 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 which they will later execute 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 our society's relationship with the 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 in the North Atlantic Ocean. 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.

Course 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.

Syllabi

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How to Apply

  1. Complete an application form
    Apply online. (Note: the application fee is waived for students from affiliated institutions. Contact your Admissions Counselor for the code!)
  2. Submit two writing samples (500-750 words each)

    List your full name on each. Submit via email to admission@sea.edu or fax to 800-977-8516.

    1. Two-part 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 the SEA Semester program to which you're applying (The Global Ocean, Oceans & Climate, etc.) complement your education? Be sure to address both questions.
    2. 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 your SEA Semester program of interest (science, history, environmental studies, 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.
  3. Request and submit transcripts
    Official college transcripts are required for all applicants. E-transcripts must be emailed to admission@sea.edu. Hard copies must remain sealed and be sent directly from your institution to:

         SEA Office of Admissions
         P.O. Box 6
         Woods Hole, MA 02543

    High school transcripts are required for students who have not yet completed two years of college. They may be unofficial and submitted via email to admission@sea.edu or by fax to 800-977-8516.
  4. Submit two (2) undergraduate academic references
    Both should be from undergraduate level instructors; at least one should be from an instructor (i.e. professor, academic advisor) who has taught you within the past year. We also welcome additional references (i.e. coach, academic, personal, etc.). The online application will provide a link to email the reference form to your professors directly. If you require a PDF version, please click here.
  5. Schedule an interview with your Admissions Counselor
    Interviews may be conducted over the phone or in person, depending on the Counselor’s schedule. Topics of conversation may include life at your college/university, academic and extracurricular interests, transition from high school to college, your expectations for life at SEA, and how you learned about our program. The interview is also a great opportunity for you to ask questions about SEA.
  6. Submit the Student Participation Approval Form to the appropriate authority (study abroad office or academic advisor) on your campus
    This form is accessible through our online system and ensures that you go through the appropriate channels at your school for off-campus study approval (if applicable) and credit transfer. If you're not sure who to contact on your campus, ask your SEA Admissions Counselor.

​Apply for a Passport: Please note that all SEA Semester students must have a valid passport - NOT a Passport Card - before joining the program.

Apply for Financial Aid: If you plan to apply for need-based financial aid, download a financial aid application (pdf) and submit it with your application for admission.