Graduate Education

Graduate Education

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Design, teach and experience your research

Goal of the Program

The goal of the graduate program at the University of Washington School of Oceanography is to enable your professional growth through course and independent research. We accomplish this by providing opportunities for you to design scientific programs, to experience sea-going oceanography, to develop a teaching portfolio in order to be well-prepared for careers in teaching, research, and/or administration in academia, government, and the private sector. With few exceptions, all students are admitted into the Ph.D. program. We have a long history of admitting members of the Coast Guard and Navy into a two-year Masters program. Most students will defend an M.S. as part of their progress to the Ph.D.

Within the school, there are 45 academic faculty members and an additional 40 affiliate or adjunct faculty that can advise the research of graduate students. We have 50 graduate students and 120 undergraduates within the school. The faculty and their laboratories are primarily located in five buildings on campus and at the nearby NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. We are located on the southern and western parts of UW – just a 10-min walk from the center of this large research university. The School also operates two research vessels, the 274 ft global class R.V. Thomas G. Thompson and the 72 ft R.V. Rachel Carson, that are both docked adjacent to the Marine Sciences Building. (FHL/OA)

Focus Areas

Although our department is organized by academic options reflecting the basic sciences (i.e. Biological Oceanography, Chemical Oceanography, Marine Geology and Geophysics, and Physical Oceanography), many of the research programs are interdisciplinary with particular focus on climate change, coastal processes, and extreme environments. Graduate certificate programs associated with the school include the Program on Climate Change and the Astrobiology Program. Faculty members from within the school are also participants in the recently-awarded NSF IGERT focused on societal and environmental issues related to ocean changes.

The school provides opportunities for interested students to develop a teaching portfolio. All graduate students are required to serve two quarters as a teaching assistant for either one of our undergraduate courses or first-year graduate courses, and some graduate students choose to serve as TAs multiple times. 

Graduates with a Ph.D. from the UW School of Oceanography have been highly successful in their careers. Since 1999, nearly 80% of them have remained in research as either faculty members at places such as Stanford University, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, University of Rhode Island; as research scientists at university or government laboratories (e.g. NOAA-GFDL, NOAA-PMEL, UW APL). The remaining graduates have found careers as program managers, educators, or as consultants.