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Great white sharks can go up to three months without eating. If the total salt content of all the oceans was dried, it would cover the continents to a depth of five feet. Dolphins can whistle, coral can sting, and seaweed can be a good source of calcium, zinc, and even protein. Want more?

A major in oceanography focuses—obviously—on oceans. Not just the deep, dark, mysterious waters, but also what they’re made of, what lives in them, how they create and use resources, and how the sea moves and changes. Oregon State describes oceanography as “the application of the sciences to the study of the oceans,” and oceanography is truly an interdisciplinary major. You’ll study elements from many different fields, including biology, chemistry, physics, geology, math, and geography. You’ll learn about the captivating animals and plants that make the sea their home—what they eat, how they live, how they affect the ocean itself. From the nutrients and gases in ocean waters to tides, currents, shoreline formation, waves, and the motion of the sea, you’ll become an expert on every aspect of the world’s greatest feature. You’ll also learn about the complex relationship between the ocean and the rest of the environment, and how their interactions affect each other—and us. Finally, you’ll examine some of the challenges and threats the ocean faces today, and how we might best address them.

Many oceanography programs give students the opportunity to work directly with the ocean through on-site laboratories, internships, and research projects. The field of oceanography—like the oceans themselves—is extraordinarily rich, and some programs may ask you to focus on one specific area. Specializations might include biological oceanography, chemical oceanography, marine geology, and physical oceanography. Through your studies, you’ll gain a deep (so to speak) understanding of oceans and their ever-changing role in our world.


  • Aquaculture Production

  • Aquatic Pollution

  • Biological Oceanography

  • Biological Pollution Control

  • Chemical Oceanography

  • Coastal Law

  • Geography of the Pacific

  • Human Adaptation to the Sea

  • International Ocean Law

  • Living Resources of the Sea

  • Marine Geology

  • Marine Geophysics

  • Mineral & Energy Resources of the Sea

  • Ocean Mapping

  • Ocean Minerals

  • Paleooceanography

  • Sea & Society

  • Sedimentology


To prepare for a major in oceanography, you should take a variety of courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and math. Science courses with laboratory components will be especially valuable. Reading, writing, and speaking skills are important to this major as well, so take courses in English, languages, and other humanities.