Oceanography, M.S.

Oceanography, M.S.

Get a Master's in Oceanography

Oceanography MSOceanography is a broad, multidisciplinary science that integrates the expertise and skills of ocean scientists with that of engineers. Florida Tech's master's in oceanography is a research-centric program that focuses on study of:

  • Ocean currents and waves 
  • Coastal processes 
  • Planktonic, nektonic and benthic organisms
  • Marine meteorology 
  • Hydro acoustic applications 
  • Trace metal pollution identification and distributing

Whether students want to develop a new way of restoring wetlands and shorelines, design solutions for managing the effects of pollution or solve the mystery of red tides, a master's in oceanography from Florida Tech provides expert training in some of the most diverse marine environments in the world.

Specializations

Studying for a master's in oceanography at Florida Tech provides students options to specialize in these five areas of specialization:

  • Biological Oceanography – training with an emphasis on biological aspects including phytoplankton, zooplankton, coral reefs, harmful algal blooms, invasive species, and estuarine restoration. 
  • Chemical Oceanography – studying pollutants to help reverse manmade damage to oceans, as well as marine and environmental chemistry such as bioremediation and elements integral for biological processes. 
  • Coastal Zone Management – protecting and managing shorelines through research on local and global cause and effect relationships of human activities in the development and use of environmental resources in the coastal zone. 
  • Geological Oceanography – discovering unknown topography of the deepest depths of the ocean through hands-on research on erosion control and coastal margins, marine particle composition and sea floor acoustics. 
  • Physical Oceanography – using advanced mathematics and engineering for quantitative analysis in research topics such as sea level, waves, currents, salinity, heat storage and density.

Florida Tech built its reputation for excellence in science and engineering education through rigorous curriculum and real-world research experiences. This multidisciplinary approach to education gives students in the master's in oceanography program extreme flexibility to tailor their degree to particular interests and career goals.

Why Pursue a Master's in Oceanography at Florida Tech?

When looking at oceanography graduate programs consider Florida Tech – a university that holds many distinguished accolades that showcase its excellence in science and engineering education. Additionally, NASA scientists, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and highly decorated military generals have chosen Florida Tech for their education.

World-Class Faculty That Mentors Students

When looking at oceanography programs, consider that Florida Tech offers a learning experience where graduates develop expertise across a variety of disciplines, making them more attractive to potential employers. Other oceanography graduate programs may not offer small class sizes where professors mentor students, including collaborative research with faculty and fellow students. Rigorous courses, excellent laboratories and valuable field experiences combine to make oceanography a popular degree program.

Research Opportunities

When graduate students choose Florida Tech over other oceanography graduate programs, vast research opportunities are the reason why. Faculty-led research offers one opportunity for students, but they are also nurtured in their own research projects in their chosen field and encouraged to expand their understanding of the issues facing oceanography professionals today. Florida Tech offers a high quality of challenging curriculum and research experiences that students might expect to find at much larger universities in a smaller, more intimate environment.

High Tech Facilities

In terms of resources, Florida Tech provides a unique array of specialized facilities that other oceanography graduate programs do not.

  • The university's state-of-the-art facilities in the F. W. Olin Physical Sciences Center (and Instrumentation Center) and the F.W. Olin Life Sciences Building include cutting-edge laboratories and instrumentation. 
  • The Harris Center for Science and Engineering includes a temperature-controlled greenhouse, small mammal and reptile facilities, recirculating systems and electron microscope suite. 
  • The Ralph S. Evinrude Marine Operations Center works on advancing marine research, education and outreach.
    Superb Location for Oceanography Majors

While many graduate students live and work near campus, Florida Tech also attracts students from around the world. The university's location on Florida's Space Coast puts it in close proximity to rich marine environments such as the Atlantic Ocean and Indian River Lagoon – something other oceanography graduate programs simply can't offer. The lagoon is the most diverse estuary in North America and miles of Florida coastline provides students with internships and potential employment with many local, state, and national agencies, marine environmental consulting firms, public aquaria, mariculture companies and private marine research organizations. Additionally, Florida Tech is located amidst the fifth largest high-tech workforce in the United States.

Doctoral Program

Another reason to choose Florida Tech over other oceanography graduate programs is access to a doctoral program. Students considering continuing their research find an easy transition into Florida Tech's doctoral program in oceanography, where they can remain focused on their area of specialization and gain expert oceanography credentials for their future career. A doctorate in oceanography enhances salary potential and prepares graduates for fulfilling careers in academia or industry.

What Oceanography Research or Other Opportunities Can I Expect?

Hands-on experience such as oceanography internships and research opportunities provides graduate students with a chance to work on issues in the field that prepare them for the workplace. Enhancing classroom learning, these opportunities present the latest body of knowledge in the industry, offering a chance for students to work in team environments and alongside faculty mentors or industry professionals to conduct meaningful exploration that contributes to their expertise.

Oceanography internships cover a diverse realm of topics related to their chosen area of specialization that can include:

  • Ocean currents and waves 
  • Coastal processes 
  • Planktonic, nektonic and benthic organisms 
  • Marine meteorology 
  • Hydro acoustic applications 
  • Trace-metal pollution identification and distribution
  • Other oceanography internships include teaching assistantships and fellowships, which are awarded by the department each year.

Research

In addition to oceanography internships, research is an important part of graduate programs at Florida Tech. Emphasis is placed on a strong scientific background so that students are prepared for any number of careers in academia, research, private industry or government. Faculty-led and personal research addresses current oceanography topics and concerns with a desire for students to make a contribution to the field.

With pollution and climate change affecting millions across the world, understanding its effect on ocean environments is integral to discovering solutions. Graduate student research is focused on deep-sea, coastal and estuarine environmental factors affected by pollution, climate change and natural processes and contributes to numerous publications and technical reports.

Facilities

Much of the instructional work on estuarine and coastal waters is conducted as part of applied research contracts that use the program's small motor-powered skiffs and chartered vessels, including the 78 ft. R/V Hogarth, an oceanographic research vessel operation by the Florida Institute of Oceanography, of which Florida Tech is a member. Access to the ocean from the university facilities is through Port Canaveral and/or Sebastian Inlet where the Gulf Stream can be reached in about three hours.

Marine and coastal facilities available to campus research include The Ralph S. Evinrude Marine Operations Center.  Such facilities work to advance marine research, education and outreach, as well as integrating marine research with government and non-government institutions, foundations and industries. These facilities provide easy access to field study sites for work on the biology of coastal organisms and study of physical and geological processes of the coastal zones.

Get Published

Graduate students are encouraged to participate in oceanography internships and research opportunities to submit their research findings for publication in respected industry journals. This includes American Geophysical Union, American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, Marine Ecology Progress Series, Coasts and Estuaries, Beach and Shoreline Preservation, and other ocean science related conferences across the country.

How Will a Master's Degree Benefit my Oceanography Career?

From marine life and ecosystems, ocean circulation, plate tectonics, geology of the sea floor and the chemical and physical properties of the ocean, graduates with a master's in oceanography from Florida Tech find a wide range of job opportunities when seeking oceanography careers.

Oceanography jobs are organized among five areas of concentration, but there is often crossover between these disciplines.  Florida Tech gives you the inter-disciplinary training you need to be successful, while still allowing you to take specialization courses in these areas:

  1. Biological Oceanography 
  2. Chemical Oceanography 
  3. Physical Oceanography 
  4. Marine Environmental Science 
  5. Coastal Zone Management

Career Outlook

The Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the U.S. Department of Labor 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 (as part of Geoscientists) are projected to grow by 16 percent through 2020. Jobs will involve such expertise in the study and analysis of ocean currents, water temperature changes, salinity, and ecosystem changes.

Food and fishing industries hire oceanographers to understand the marine life food chain for the effective and safe harvesting of fish or farming of fish. Private and government firms employ oceanographers to study chemical compositions of seawater and how it impacts the atmosphere, weather and climate. In these and other jobs, oceanographers are working on answers to questions and problems that face our oceans.

Check the handbook about oceanography careers and other related jobs.

Career Options

Oceanography careers include such positions as:

  • Geoscientist 
  • Agricultural and Food Scientist 
  • Oceanographic Data Analyst 
  • Physical Oceanographer 
  • Fish Ecologist 
  • Director of Environmental Quality 
  • Field Technologist 
  • Environmental Scientist 
  • Marine Scientist 
  • Research Scientist 
  • Marine Support Officer 
  • Military Positions – Supporting Missions in the Armed Services 
  • Postsecondary Professor

Where Do Oceanographers Work?

Oceanography degree graduates are employed all over the world, in a variety of exciting positions including research scientists and coastal and oceanographic engineers for government and private companies. Organizations that have provided internships and employment to Florida Tech students include:

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
  • Florida Department of Environmental Protection 
  • Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University 
  • The Smithsonian Institution
  • Environmental Consulting Firms
  • NASA