Oceanography M.S.

Oceanography M.S.

rocky ocean shoreline with crabs

Why get a Master of Science in oceanography?

Are you interested in the environment around you, and does a job or career in marine science appeal to you? Do your interests lie in the aquatic realm, specifically the marine system that includes oceans, estuaries and the atmosphere? Then you’re in luck! Students in the oceanography graduate program are trained in the broad sub disciplines (physical, biological, chemical and geological oceanography) and in their specialty field, and conduct research in topics including – but not limited to – coastal and estuarine processes, sedimentation and transport, ocean modeling, ocean acidification, climate change, ocean mapping, paleoceanography and climatology, primary productivity and microbial ecology of marine systems.

Why choose UNH’s oceanography program?

Oceanography students at UNH can choose from a variety of research projects leading to post-graduate employment opportunities. Our faculty span the major disciplines of oceanography. Marine facilities at UNH include the Jackson Estuarine Laboratory, Coastal Marine Facility (and vessels), Shoals Marine Lab on Appledore Island, and a variety of research space in the Chase Ocean Engineering Laboratory, Ocean Processes Analysis Laboratory, Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences Departments, and the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, a Joint Hydrographic Center with NOAA. Our graduates are well-suited to jobs that require knowledge of coastal and ocean processes, field data collection analysis, at-sea experience, modeling and laboratory techniques.

Potential career areas

  • Academic teaching
  • Business
  • Consulting firms
  • Government research (NOAA/NRL/USGS/USACE)
  • Research
  • State regulatory agencies


Thomas Lippmann

Oceanography Graduate Coordinator
Phone: (603) 862-4450
Office: Center for Coastal & Ocean Mapping, Chase Ocean Engineering Lab Rm 165, Durham, NH 03824
Department of Earth Sciences
56 College Road
214 James Hall
Durham, NH 03824

P: (603) 862-1718
E: earth.sciences@unh.edu

Curriculum & Requirements

The Oceanography (OCE) graduate program has a diverse set of faculty, staff, and students who examine ocean processes in broad fields of physical, biological, chemical, and geological oceanography and geophysics.  Basic and applied research of an experimental, numerical, and analytical nature is conducted in oceanic settings that range from shallow nearshore and estuarine waters to the deep ocean and span all ocean basins on earth including the Arctic. 

OCE offers programs leading to M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees.  These interdisciplinary programs prepare students for professional careers in ocean-relate fields.  In addition, students can also pursue an ocean mapping option within the Department of Earth Sciences and carried out within the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping.

Research and Facilities

The oceanography graduate program within the Department of Earth Sciences and the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering (SMSOE) is enhanced by the ocean engineering and marine biology graduate programs, and by other departments and institutes at UNH, including the civil and mechanical engineering and biology departments; the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS); the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM); and the Ocean Processes Laboratory (OPAL). Other related programs include the N.H. Sea Grant Program, the Center for Collaborative Science, and the Atlantic Marine Aquaculture Center, Coastal Response Research Center (CRRC), Northeast Consortium (NEC), and the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP). Oceanographic laboratories at UNH include the Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML) on Appledore Island, the Coastal Marine Laboratory (CML) in Newcastle, the Jackson Estuarine Laboratory (JEL) at Adams Point on the Great Bay, and the Chase Ocean Engineering Laboratory (COEL) on the main UNH campus. Additional laboratories for the oceanography faculty are located on campus in James, Morse, Rudman, and Spaulding Halls. The SMSOE operates a marine support facility and two UNH research vessels moored in Portsmouth Harbor at the UNH pier, the R/V Gulf Challenger and the R/V Gulf Surveyor, as well as a number of small boats. The SMSOE also supports the UNH Diving Program and oversees a shared­ use Instrumentation Pool for student and faculty use.

M.S. Degree Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 30 credits for the thesis option or 34 credits for the non-thesis option.

Required Courses
ESCI 997Seminar in Earth Sciences1
ESCI 998Proposal Development1
Select two of the following core courses:6-8
Biological Oceanography
Chemical Oceanography
Introduction to Physical Oceanography
Geological Oceanography
Select one of the following:6 or 2
Thesis Option:
Master's Thesis (acceptable to the thesis-examining committee and must pass a thesis defense)
Non-Thesis Option:
Directed Research
Directed Research
Other Relevant Graduate Courses16-22
Introduction to Marine Pollution and Control
Topics (Model & Anal. Biogeochem Cycles)
Topics (Climate & FIsheries)
Topics (Bio-Optics & Primary Production)
Topics (Dyn. of Global Marine Ecosystems)
Quantitative Methods in Earth Sciences
Isotope Geochemistry
Aqueous Geochemistry
Glacial Geology
Spectral Analysis of Geophysical Time Series Data
Geodesy and Positioning for Ocean Mapping
Integrated Seabed Mapping Systems
Advanced Topics in Ocean Mapping
Topics (Nearshore Processes)
Hydrographic Field Course
Advanced Seminar (Ocean Seminar)
Advanced Topics (Geophysical Fluid Dynamics)
Advanced Topics (Ocean Modeling)
Asymptotic and Perturbation Methods
Statistical Methods for Research
Applied Regression Analysis
Foundations of Applied Mathematics I
Foundations of Applied Mathematics II
Introduction to Numerical Methods
Analytical Fluid Dynamics
Waves in Fluids
Viscous Flow
Marine Ecology
Ocean Measurements Laboratory
Ocean Hydrodynamics
Ocean Waves and Tides
Coastal Engineering and Processes
Underwater Acoustics
Graduate Special Topics (Coastal Sediment Transport)
Elasmobranchs and Bony Fishes
Fisheries Biology: Conservation and Management
Total Credits30-34


Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: Jan. 15 (for funding); April 1 (final)
  • Spring: Dec. 1
  • Summer: N/A
  • Special: N/A

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: VT

Accelerated Masters: Yes

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.


If you attended UNH after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester and UNH Non-Degree work. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must request one official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. International transcripts must be translated into English. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to grad.school@unh.edu. Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

Test Scores: GRE Required

GRE required. Request official test scores to be sent directly to the Graduate School by the testing service. Test scores more than five years old are not acceptable. Student copies and photo copies of scores are not considered official. Our CEEB code is 3918.

For general information about test scores required for admission into our programs please visit our Test Scores webpage.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding:

  1. Reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives,
  2. Your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program specific application questions.

International Applicants

Prospective international students are strongly encouraged to complete our international pre-application process and are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. Please note that English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

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