Skip to Content Find it Fast

This browser does not support Cascading Style Sheets.


Graduate Course Catalog 2016-2017

Graduate School


Oceanography (OCE)


» Click to view course offerings

This program is offered in Durham.


Degrees Offered: M.S., Ph.D.

The Department of Earth Sciences (ESCI) in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS) offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in oceanography that include the study of biological oceanography, chemical oceanography, marine geology and geophysics, and physical oceanography. The OCE program also supports focused research in coastal and estuarine processes.

Admission Requirements

Applicants should have completed an undergraduate major related to one of the oceanography disciplines, including biology, chemistry, engineering, geology, physics, or mathematics, or an appropriate array of science and engineering courses within their major field. Applicants are expected to have completed one year each of calculus and chemistry and two semesters of physics and/or biology. It is not necessary to have had previous coursework in oceanography. Applicants must submit scores (within the last 5 years) from the general test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

M.S. Degree Requirements

Students must complete a minimum of 30 credits for the thesis option or 34 credits for the non-thesis option.  This includes at least two of the four core courses in biological (ESCI 850), chemical (ESCI 852), geological (ESCI 859), and physical oceanography (ESCI 858), as well as seminar (ESCI 997) and proposal development (ESCI 998).  In addition to the course credits, students in the thesis option will complete a 6-credit thesis (OCE 899) that is acceptable to the thesis-examining committee, and must pass a thesis defense. Students in the non-thesis option will complete 32 course credits and a 2-credit directed research project (ESCI 898 or OCE 898).

Ph.D. Requirements

Students plan a program of study in conjunction with a faculty guidance committee (FGC). Students entering the program without a master's degree are expected to complete a minimum of 36 credit hours. Students with an M.S. degree in oceanography or related field in physical science from UNH or another university should first demonstrate (through accredited transcript or the qualifying examination) acceptable mastery in the basic core areas. Those deficient in any discipline will be required to complete the respective course. 

All students must complete at least one course from each of the following categories: natural sciences, methods, ethics/policy/law, and seminar. Please see below for a list of courses that meet these specifications. Additional credit hours are determined by the FGC (typically 15 credit hours). Foreign language requirement is determined by the FGC. Students must complete a Coursework Approval Form, which summarizes all courses to be taken, and obtain signatures from their adviser, committee members, and the OCE program coordinator once the coursework is completed.

Students wishing to be admitted to doctoral candidacy will undergo a qualifying examination by the guidance committee designed to test the student’s in-depth knowledge in their major field and their ability to conduct independent and original research in oceanography. Qualifying students will present to the guidance committee a research proposal in which the soundness, originality, and feasibility of the investigation are clearly stated, and which when approved based on a proposal examination by the committee, will form the basis for the doctoral dissertation.  

Students are advanced to candidacy after successfully completing the comprehensive exam, proposal exam, and all coursework required by the guidance committee. Students must complete a dissertation, present their results at a public seminar, and pass an oral examination by the thesis committee.

Although not a strict requirement, all graduate students are encouraged to obtain teaching experience, preferably as a teaching assistant.

All students are required to spend time in the field, even if their research project and interests are primarily based on analytical research, modeling studies, or laboratory experiments. The field requirement could include extended time at sea onboard one of the UNH, UNOLS, NOAA, or similar oceanographic research vessels, or include field experiments at locations in New Hampshire, the U.S., or around the globe, and includes possible nearshore and estuarine studies, Antarctic expeditions, or other land-based studies related to oceanography. Successful completion of the field requirement will be determined by the guidance committee.

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 zoology graduate programs, and by other departments and institutes at UNH, including the civil and mechanical engineering and zoology 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 Center of Excellence in Coastal Ocean Observation and Analysis (COOA). 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 Coastal Surveyor, as well as a number of small boats.  The Marine Program also supports the UNH Diving Program and oversees a shared-use Instrumentation Pool for student and faculty use.

Natural Sciences

ESCI 850 Biological Oceanography 4 cr.
ESCI 852 Chemical Oceanography 3 cr.
ESCI 858 Intro to Physical Oceanography 3 cr.
ESCI 859 Geological Oceanography 4 cr.



CHEM 862 Intro. to Ocean Remote Sensing 3 cr.
EOS 895 Model & Anal. Biogeochem cycles 4 cr.
ESCI 801 Quantitative Methods for Earth Sciences 4 cr.
ESCI 870 Fundamentals of Ocean Mapping 4 cr.
ESCI 871 Geodesy & Positioning Ocean Map 4 cr.
ESCI 972 Hydrographic Field Course 4 cr.
ESCI 896 Time Series Analysis 4 cr.
IAM 940 Asymptotic & Perturbation Meth. 3 cr.
ME 807 Analytical Fluid Dynamics 3 cr.
MATH 835 Statistical Methods for Research 3 cr.
MATH 839 Applied Regression Analysis 3 cr.
MATH 845 Foundations of Applied Math 3 cr.
MATH 853 Intro. to Numerical Methods 3 cr.
OE 810 Ocean Measurements Lab 4 cr.


Ethics, Policy, and Law

ECON 908 Environ. Econ: Theory & Policy 3 cr.
NR 801 Ecological Sustainability & Values 4 cr.
NR 818 Law Natural Resources & Environ. 3 cr.
NR 820 Intern. Environ. Politic & Policies 4 cr.
NR 824 Resolving Environmental Conflicts 4 cr.
NR 902 Ecological Ethics and Values 4 cr.
NR 915 Coastal Challenges Science Policy 2 cr.
NR 916 Link Decision & Coastal Ecosys. Sci 4 cr.
GRAD 930 Ethics in Research and Scholarship Var. cr.
POLT 880 Intern. Environ. Politics 3 cr.


Seminar and Proposal Development

OE 990 Ocean Seminars I 1 cr.
OE 991 Ocean Seminars II 1 cr.
ESCI 997 Seminar 1 cr.
ESCI 998 Proposal Development 1 cr.


Other Relevant Graduate Courses

CIE 847 Intro. to Mar. Pollution & Control 3 cr.
EOS 824 Intro. to Ocean Remote Sensing 3 cr.
EOS 831 Sys. Approach to Bio. Ocean Sci. 3 cr.
EOS 896 Bio-Optics & Primary Production 4 cr.
EOS 896 Dyn. of Global Marine Ecosystems 3 cr.
EOS 844 Biogeochemistry 4 cr.
EOS 895 Climate & Fisheries 4 cr.
ESCI 834 Geophysics 3 cr.
ESCI 841 Geochemistry 4 cr.
ESCI 845 Isotope Geochemistry 4 cr.
ESCI 847 Aqueous Geochemistry 4 cr.
ESCI 854 Sedimentology 4 cr.
ESCI 856 Geotectonics 3 cr.
ESCI 865 Paleoclimatology 3 cr.
ESCI 895 Paleoceanography 3 cr.
ESCI 896 Nearshore Processes 4 cr.
ESCI 952 Adv. Chemical Oceanography 4 cr.
ESCI 994 Advanced Ocean Seminar 1 cr.
ESCI 995 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics 3 cr.
ME 807 Analytical Fluid Dynamics 4 cr.
ME 812 Waves in Fluid 3 cr.
ME 909 Viscous Flow 3 cr.
ME 995 Turbulence 3 cr.
MICR 807 Marine Microbiology 5 cr.
MICR 817 Microbial Physiology 5 cr.
OE 844 Environment Acoustics I 4 cr.
OE 853 Ocean Hydrodynamics 3 cr.
OE 854 Ocean Waves & Tides I 4 cr.
OE 885 Environment Acoustics II 4 cr.
OE 895 Underwater Acoustics 4 cr.
OE 954 Ocean Waves & Tides II 4 cr.
OE 995 Coastal Sediment Transport 3 cr.
ZOOL 810 Ichthyology 4 cr.
ZOOL 811 Zooplankton Ecology 4 cr.
ZOOL 825 Marine Ecology 4 cr.
ZOOL 872 Fisheries Biology 3 cr.