Prepare and Apply

Boat Buddies


University of Washington Admissions

Recommendations for Current High School Students:

While you are in high school: we encourage you to complete the UW College Academic Distribution Requirements in combination with the following:

Math and Science Courses

  • Pre-calculus (preferred)
  • Calculus (optional)
  • Chemistry (preferred)
  • Biology (preferred)
  • Physics (optional)

Advanced Placement (AP): Earning credit depends on the test taken, the score earned and what equivalent UW course credit is granted as listed here: UW Admissions and Advanced Placement.

AP tests which can grant relevant course credit for the Oceanography Major requirements (requires a specific score on AP tests):

  • Biology (BIOL 161 and BIOL 162)
  • Mathematics: Calculus AB or BC (MATH 124, 125)
  • Chemistry (CHEM 142, 152, 162)
  • Physics 1, Physics 2, Physics C: Mechanics, or Physics C: Electricity & Magnetism (PHYS 114, 115, 121, 122)

AP tests which grant credit for courses not used in major (credit can be applied to general requirements):

  • Statistics (STAT 290)
  • Environmental Sciences (ESRM 100)

Juniors or Seniors starting the application process are encouraged to schedule a visit to campus. You can meet with the Oceanography Adviser and tour the campus. Other activities such as class visits, info sessions, or lab tours may also be available depending on the time of year.


Oceanography is an open major.  Students can declare it at anytime. Please contact Michelle Townsend, our student adviser, if you're interested. 



University of Washington Admissions

Recommendations for Current Community College Students:

To prepare for a successful application and transfer from a community college, refer to the following worksheet:


Students are not required to complete an Associate’s degree to apply, but it is recommended to complete as many of the basic science and math courses listed on the worksheet above prior to admission. Students can match course numbers on the planning worksheets to those from Washington State community or technical colleges with the UW Transfer Equivalency Guide. Students from outside of Washington state can contact an adviser with questions about course equivalency for major or minor requirements.

Prior to admission, applicants can use the UW MyPlan tool to create an academic plan including courses you have already taken as well as courses you plan to take at the UW.


Prospective transfer students at any stage of the planning or application process are invited to contact the Oceanography Adviser. Students can consult with the adviser about their individual academic planning prior to admission, and are invited to visit the campus for in-person advising appointments. Schedule a visit to campus around one of the weekly Transfer Thursday events to get general information about the transfer admission process.

For additional resources about transferring to the UW, please explore


Do I need to fill out a separate application to be admitted to the Oceanography major?

Oceanography is an ‘open’ major. If you are admitted to the UW through the general application, you can immediately transfer into the Oceanography major without any additional application.

How do I fill out the UW application if I want to major in Oceanography?

When you complete the UW Admissions Application, select Oceanography as your First-Choice Major. If you select Oceanography, you will be automatically declared as a Oceanography major upon admission to the UW.

Are there other courses not listed on the worksheet that I can take to prepare?

Community college students can apply to study at Friday Harbor Labs. Courses offered in autumn and spring terms listed under the ‘Marine Biology Quarter‘ are intended for students in their first two years of any college.

UW summer quarter is open to registration from any student.  Oceanography courses aren't generally offered in summer, but students can take pre-requisite courses.  

In addition to specific Oceanography requirements, our students must complete the general education requirements in the College of the Environment to graduate from the UW.

How long will it take to complete a BS with a Major in Oceanography from UW?

If you transfer to UW with 90 credits from your community college, you can usually graduate from UW in six quarters of full-time study (90 credits). Some students are at UW for one or two extra quarters if they decide to take a reduced course load or to complete a double major or a minor or if they have not taken many of their College of the Environment General Education Requirements. We enjoy meeting with students to create graduation plans and to discuss difficulties if they arise.

I have more than 90 credits from my community college. How many of these credits will count toward my degree?

After your credits have been evaluated by our Office of Admissions, you will know how your classes transferred to UW. If you have more than 90 credits, we can add some of the additional credits toward the 180 credits needed for graduation if this is useful in completing your academic goals. You can have up to 135 total credits from another school count for your degree. It would be difficult to complete the Oceanography major in just 45 credits, or three quarters, but we might be able to work out a plan.

In addition to my regular course work for the Oceanography major, what other opportunities are available for Oceanography transfer students?

All Oceanography majors complete an Capstone Field Experience. Our marine field station and research vessels offer many opportunities to get out of the classroom and into the field. Our large group of oceanography faculty offer many opportunities to engage in undergraduate research.

What do I do with a Oceanography major and how do I prepare for a career in marine sciences?