Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 29 Issue 01

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Volume 29, No. 1
Pages 16 - 21


The Ocean Science Graduate Education Landscape: A 2015 Perspective

By Susan B. Cook , Amanda Holloway, Matthew Lettrich, and Kristen Yarincik  
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Article Abstract

This article draws on several sources to provide background information on the composition of the 2015 ocean science graduate education community. We identify 148 US institutions of higher education that offer graduate degrees in the marine and ocean related sciences. Using data on degree completions and program size, the balance between master’s and doctoral programs, and the demographic characteristics of degree recipients for the 73 higher education institutions that report marine degree data to the federal government, we develop a descriptive snapshot of the 2015 ocean sciences graduate education landscape. For programs administered by members of the Ocean Sciences Educators’ Retreat community within the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, we present time-series information on the “supply side” of program dynamics (i.e., applications, enrollment), including detailed demographics, as well as an overview of curricular patterns and administrative structures. This information provides a framework that the graduate education community can use for further reflection, discussion, and collaborative action focused on the future of post-baccalaureate education in the ocean sciences.


Cook, S.B., A. Holloway, M. Lettrich, and K. Yarincik. 2016. The ocean science graduate education landscape: A 2015 perspective. Oceanography 29(1):16–21, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2016.04.

Supplementary Materials

TABLE: A complete list of the academic institutions in this article’s 2015 snapshot
> 46 KB pdf
> 16 KB Excel file


Briscoe, M., D. Glickson, S. Roberts, R. Spinrad, and J. Yoder. 2016. A moving target: Matching graduate education with available careers for ocean scientists. Oceanography 29(1):22–30, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2016.05.

Farrington, J.W. 2001. Sverdrup, Johnson, and Fleming’s The Oceans revisited: What of the future of graduate education in ocean sciences? Oceanography 14(2):34–39, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2001.41.

Lettrich, M. 2014. Trends in marine science degree completions. Presentation at OSER 2014 in Savannah, Georgia, http://oceanleadership.org/education/ocean-sciences-educators-retreat.

MTS (Marine Technology Society). 2008. Guide to Marine Science and Technology Programs in Higher Education. Marine Technology Society and the Marine Advanced Technical Education Center, 191 pp., https://www.mtsociety.org/pdf/​educationguide/mtsedguidewebfinal5-28.pdf.

Miller, A., and R.E. McDuff. 2010. Assessing the state of graduate programs in the ocean sciences, http://oceanleadership.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/OS12_Poster_PRINT.pdf.

Miller, A., and M. Briscoe. 2012. Results of a preliminary survey on graduate training in professional skills. Oceanography 25(4):6–8, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2012.107.

National Research Council. 2014. Enhancing the Value and Sustainability of Field Stations and Marine Laboratories in the 21st Century. Committee on Value and Sustainability of Biological Field Stations, Marine Laboratories, and Nature Reserves in the 21st Century Science, Education, and Public Outreach, National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 98 pp., https://doi.org/10.17226/18806.

Sharp, J.H. 1995. Diverse career possibilities and a broad oceanography curriculum. Oceanography 8(3):106–107, https://doi.org/​10.5670/oceanog.1995.10.

USCOP (US Commission on Ocean Policy). 2004. US ocean-related academic infrastructure. Appendix 4 to the Final Report, An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century. US Commission on Ocean Policy, Washington, DC, http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/oceancommission/documents/full_color_rpt/append_4.pdf

Copyright & Usage

This is an open access article made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format as long as users cite the materials appropriately, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate the changes that were made to the original content. Images, animations, videos, or other third-party material used in articles are included in the Creative Commons license unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If the material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission directly from the license holder to reproduce the material.