What is an Oceanography Degree?

Oceanography BS

Oceanography is a broad, multidisciplinary science that attempts to unlock the mysteries of the oceans that cover 70% of our planet. Students in Florida Tech’s oceanography degree program study and apply biology, chemistry, geology, meteorology, physics, and math toward a better understanding of marine ecosystem dynamics, geophysical fluid dynamics, sea floor geology, and more.

Whether you want to develop a new way to restore wetlands and shorelines, design and manage parks and sanctuaries, or solve the mystery of red tides, an oceanography degree from Florida Tech develops a strong background in oceanography, engineering, and technology.

Gain Practical Experience

Students working toward an oceanography degree at Florida Tech may choose to concentrate in one of five unique subfields: biological oceanography, chemical oceanography, coastal zone management, marine environmental science, and physical oceanography.

A unique and memorable component of each student’s first-year experience in the oceanography degree program at Florida Tech is the Whole Earth Course. This class leads students to experience and understand our planet as a system of interacting processes. As seniors, students refine their practical skills in technical electives and specialized labs, and complete a research project in a topic of their choosing.

As a result, you get practical experience, an enhanced job search portfolio, and the perfect preparation for graduate school and employment.

Why Pursue an Oceanography Degree at Florida Tech?

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Get the facts about graduate studies at Florida Tech

You have two graduate study opportunities:

  1. On Campus
  2. Download the Grad Guide!

  3. At an Education Center near you
  4. Get the Education Center Brochure

You have three graduate study opportunities:

  1. On Campus
  2. Download the Grad Guide!

  3. At an Education Center near you
  4. Get the Education Center Brochure

  5. 100% Online
  6. Learn more about Florida Tech Online

You have two graduate study opportunities:

  1. On Campus
  2. Download the Grad Guide!

  3. 100% Online
  4. Learn more about Florida Tech Online

You have two graduate study opportunities:

  1. At an Education Center near you
  2. Get the Education Center Brochure

  3. 100% Online
  4. Learn more about Florida Tech Online

The Florida Tech oceanography program is the only oceanography program in the country that is integrated with ocean engineering, environmental science, and meteorology programs.

Low Student-to-Faculty Ratio—Personalized Attention

Oceanography students can expect small classes and the opportunity to work with faculty addressing a variety of environmental challenges (such as beach erosion, air pollution, and the preservation of endangered species). The program’s reputation as one of the leading oceanography colleges and its proximity to a variety of scientific agencies and marine ecosystems means you can also expect to build valuable field experience off-campus.

Unlike other oceanography colleges, Florida Tech students enjoy small classes. They also benefit from working closely with faculty, students, and staff from a variety of disciplines. The department also has an outstanding reputation among employers, many of whom are alumni.

Students Learn from Those Preserving, Protecting, and Enhancing Natural Resources

The Department of Ocean Engineering and Sciences has an integrated collaboration of faculty members from environmental science, oceanography, meteorology, and ocean engineering. Florida Tech’s professors have a keen interest in preserving, protecting, and enhancing natural resources, staying active in research, and sharing their current knowledge and experiences in their classrooms. Many students volunteer in faculty research labs or conduct experiments, do field sample studies, and create computer simulations with faculty guidance.

Their research areas include:

  • Offshore oil spills
  • Antarctic oil drilling
  • Water and air quality
  • Sea-level rise
  • Drinking water resources in Florida
  • Managing environmental resources

High-Tech Research Laboratories

High-tech ocean engineering and sciences laboratories provide facilities and instrumentation used for core boring and sediment analysis, beach surveying, the measurement and analysis of water waves, the processes of fouling by marine organisms and saltwater corrosion, and more.

If oceanographic research facilities are what you’re looking for, Florida Tech boasts some of the finest:

  • Marine laboratories and field research sites on the Indian River Lagoon and Atlantic Ocean.
  • The Ralph S. Evinrude Marine Operations Center houses a fleet of small watercraft, which is available for class work and research and provides direct access to the Indian River Lagoon.
  • The Marine Geology and Geophysics Laboratory provides facilities for core boring and sediment analysis, beach and hydrographic surveying, and oceanographic instrumentation for coastal research activities.
  • The Underwater Technologies Laboratory has a 500-square-foot electronic workshop with all the systems necessary to design and maintain autonomous underwater vehicles.
  • The Surf Mechanics Laboratory, where students have access to two wave tanks for theoretical and experimental water wave measurement.

Florida Tech also maintains close working relationships with organizations like Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, HUBBS Sea World Research Institute, Caribbean Marine Research Center, and more.

Located in the Heart of Florida’s High-tech Corridor

Florida Tech is the perfect place for a BS in Oceanography. The 130-acre campus is located on the Space Coast (so named because of the presence of NASA and the Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral just north of us), minutes away from the Indian River Lagoon, the most diverse estuary in North America.

The area has the fifth largest high-tech workforce in the country, with more than 5,000 high-tech corporations and government and military organizations located nearby. This workforce also provides an abundance of internship and employment opportunities.

Florida Tech is just over the causeway from the Atlantic Ocean with its 72 miles of beautiful beaches, and a short trip to the Florida Keys or the Orlando theme parks. We also have a rich campus life that includes a wide range of intramural and collegiate sports, clubs, and social activities.

Build Lasting Professional Relationships through Campus Organizations

Beyond the classroom, oceanography majors build leadership and professional experience through exciting internships and participation in academic organizations like Sigma Xi (a scientific research society), the Marine Technology Society, student government, and over 100 other campus-side student organizations.

The newly formed Florida Tech Environmental Club helps promote “green” living and encourage environmentally friendly practices through educational events and campus cleanups.

How Will an Oceanography Degree Prepare me for the Future?

From the Arctic Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, our students can participate in a plethora of oceanography internships and research opportunities outside the classroom. Local companies and non-profit organizations provide many of the oceanography internships available to Florida Tech students including:

  • SeaWorld
  • The Audubon Society
  • Save the Manatee
  • The Marine Resources Council of East Central Florida

These oceanography internships offer experience in the field that students can apply to future careers or graduate school. Florida Tech alumni also get involved in designing oceanography internships for students.

Stunning Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Beyond their oceanography internships, students can take part in several different travel excursions to bring them face-to-face with wildlife from around the state or internationally to gather valuable research in a topic of their choosing. These adventures include such activities as an ocean cruise, trips to the Indian River Lagoon and its tributaries, and more.

Florida Tech students culminate their research in marine field projects, which cover a wide array of topics and interests, including:

  • Human impact on water quality
  • Loss of seagrass beds
  • Algae blooms
  • Beach erosion
  • Beach waves
  • Ecological surveys

At the end of the summer, students present their work at the Field Projects Symposium where many local agencies and news representatives gather to hear about and report on student findings.

What Can You Do With an Oceanography Degree?

Graduates of the oceanography program traditionally get their first jobs at organizations that deal directly with the management of ocean resources: studying the motion and circulation of ocean waters; the physical and chemical properties of the oceans; and how these properties affect coastal areas, climate, and weather. With a degree in oceanography, future oceanography careers may include work on fishery restoration, ocean mining, pollution prevention, toxic algae blooms, or beach erosion.

Get Recruited Upon Graduation

Employers seek out graduates with an oceanography degree from Florida Tech. Oceanography degree graduates are employed all over the world, in a variety of exciting positions. Most are employed as research scientists and coastal and oceanographic engineers for government, nonprofits, and private companies, including:

  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection
  • Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • National Science Foundation
  • National Weather Service, Melbourne Forecast Office
  • Rockwell Aviation
  • Brevard County Natural Resource Center
  • John’s River Water Management District
  • US Environmental Protection Agency

Career Outlook

Oceanography jobs are organized among five areas of concentration:

  • Biological oceanography
  • Chemical oceanography
  • Physical oceanography
  • Marine environmental science
  • Coastal zone management

The Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), provides information about specific jobs including median annual pay, working conditions, and job outlook, among other things.

According to the Bureau, oceanography careers (classified under geoscientists) are projected to grow by 21% through 2020. The need for energy, environmental protection and responsible resource management will continue the demand for geoscience and oceanography careers. Many openings will come in oil and gas consulting firms, but most new jobs will be in management, scientific, and technical consulting services.

Other Career Options

Oceanography careers include such opportunities as:

  • Geoscientist
  • Agricultural and food scientist
  • Environmental engineer
  • Environmental scientist
  • Geological technician
  • Petroleum technician
  • Postsecondary teacher

Graduate and Doctoral Programs

After receiving their oceanography degree, 20% of oceanography students in the department of ocean engineering and sciences graduates go to graduate school at universities such as Florida Tech or other prestigious universities, including:

  • Cambridge University (UK)
  • Columbia University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Princeton University
  • University of Alaska
  • University of Florida
  • University of Miami
  • University of North Carolina
  • University of South Florida
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute