5 Best Bachelor’s Degrees in Oceanography

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If you live on a planet that is 70 percent covered by water, then it stands to reason that studying the oceans to understand them is going to be necessary. And that is what an oceanographer does – they explore the sea. More precisely, oceanographers study marine life and the interaction of marine life with its aquatic environment. And because the oceans are so vast, it also stands to reason that there are going to be many different careers or pathways into doing oceanographic work.

Oceanographers are interested in understanding the health of the ecosystems that make up the world’s oceans. This can be in the depths of the sea, in estuaries, on the coast, and in waterways. Individuals who study oceanography draw from disciplines like chemistry, physics, and biology, and learn how to use the cutting-edge technology employed by oceanographers in studying the seas. Jobs in the field include marine biologists, geophysicists, physical oceanographers, marine chemists, marine physicists, and biological oceanographers, among many others.

Most employment associated with oceanography is expected to grow faster than the average growth rate for all jobs over the next decade. For instance, Marine Engineers and Naval Architects are both positions that are expected to grow by 12 percent, which is above the 7-8 percent average. And these positions also pay up to three times as much as the median average for all jobs in the country. So, if you are interested in having a job on the ocean or in service to understand the underwater world that is still a great mystery to us, then check out our list of the 5 Best Bachelors in Oceanography for 2020!


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Score: 89.2

Located in Arcata, CA, Humboldt State University is a public university with a student population of over 8,500 per year. Humbolt’s Department of Oceanography awards a Bachelor of Science in Oceanography. The program includes upper and lower division courses where students are required to take supporting courses in mathematics, physics, and biology. The program is geared towards helping students grasp the complexity of oceanographic data and information. In this endeavor, students learn how to apply concepts from various disciplines, including chemistry, geology, physics, and mathematics. HSU is located near the coast and maintains a marine laboratory in Trinidad, CA. The program is the only one with a fully equipped marine-based lab and oceanic research vessel in the US, which is a bonus for hands-on lab experiences in both near ocean and open ocean settings.  

Net Price: $14,140





Score: 89.8

Located on the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington offers an excellent venue in which to study oceanography and offers a Bachelor of Science in Oceanography. The program at UNCW is geared for developing professional researchers who are interested in oceanographic related careers. The degree attends to the interdisciplinary nature of the discipline, while also stressing the need to grasp the technologies used in the field. Overall the program is 60-63 credits which leave room for a minor, and students are required to complete a fieldwork experience which can be done on a ship or on shore. UNCW is a major research institution and faculty in the oceanography program are involved in conducting research using cutting edge equipment, which is a bonus for students directly impacted in the classroom through possible faculty research opportunities.

Net Price: $16,831





Score: 92.7

Based in Melbourne, FL on the Atlantic Ocean, Florida Institute of Technology offers a Bachelor of Science in Oceanography. Students learn from a variety of disciplines in the program, including chemistry, physics, meteorology, geology, and biology and apply these fields to the study of the ocean and the various forms of aquatic life. The FIT program is exceptional in a variety of ways, including the low student to teacher ratio, and the leading research laboratories located on campus and in the region. FIT has two different marine laboratories, an Underwater Technologies Laboratory, and several other excellent venues for laboratory and field-work experiences and training. FIT students can also participate in internships, and the Department of Ocean Engineering and Sciences has cultivated a wide variety of relationships with scholars and scientists who are engaged in the preservation and protection of natural resources.

Net Price: $33,610





Score: 97.1

The University of Washington is located in Seattle, WA, where its College of the Environment, the School of Oceanography awards a Bachelor of Science in Oceanography. The degree includes supporting classes in the sciences and mathematics, and students complete a sequence of courses moving along advanced topics like global biogeochemical cycles and understanding the interaction between the seafloor and water column. By the end of their second year, students generally have had at least one field experience. UW has two vessels that they use for research and teaching and five different buildings with multiple spaces for instruction and lab work. Through the Ocean Tech Center, students can also participate in the Experiential Learning in Ocean Technology curriculum, which consists of nine elective courses that help to integrate technological training into their BSO degree.

Net Price: $9,443





Score: 100

A significant research university, North Carolina State University is located in the state capital of Raleigh. NCSU’s Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences awards a Bachelor of Science in Marine Sciences with a concentration in Biological Oceanography. The program grounds students in the sciences and mathematics necessary for oceanographic work. The student to faculty ratio in the program is an extraordinary 6-to-1 ensuring close mentoring relationships and individualized attention. The department is a member of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership and regularly is conducting research on a range of topics that students will benefit from, including investigating biogeochemical cycles, understanding air-sea interactions, and understanding the many stresses placed on marine ecosystems.

Net Price: $13,442

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