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Program Description:

SEA Semester: The Global Ocean

SEA Semester (SEA) is an educational adventure in a study-abroad program, open to students in all majors, that takes you to the deep ocean on a traditional sailing vessel to learn about the sea. The semester long program is 12 weeks long with half taking place on shore and the other half at sea. The interdisciplinary program begins in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, one of the world’s great centers for ocean research. There you will study the chemistry, biology, physics, and geology of the oceans and you will design your own research project that you will carry out at sea. You will learn the history and culture of mariners who for centuries have gone to sea, an ancient tradition that you will join. You will discuss the major policy issues that will be tomorrow’s headlines. And you will learn what it requires to take a vessel under sail safely to the deep ocean and to international ports.

After six weeks on shore, you will be prepared to go to sea. You and your classmates will join the crew on one of their 135-foot vessels in New Zealand or Europe, depending on the semester and location you choose. You will participate in all of the duties the ship requires, as mariners have done for generations before you. Every day, you will be given more responsibility as your skills increase until, towards the end, you are running the ship. SEA voyages follow various cruise tracks depending on the research focus and weather conditions. There are typically two port stops with one outside the United States.

Note: This program will not be offered for spring 2021 and is expected to return in spring 2022. 

Program Details

  • Minimum GPA: 2.75
  • SU required course load: 12-19 credits for undergraduate students
  • No language prerequisite
  • Science prerequisite: minimum of three lab science courses, including one at the 300-level or higher (or SEA faculty permission)
Program Calendar
Fall and Spring: Varies per cruise track

This semester welcomes students from all majors. A flexible curriculum allows students to choose the program track that best meets their academic needs. Human actions have caused measurable changes in the global ocean. The rate at which resources are being extracted and pollutants are being added is significantly impacting human health, global economic systems, and local cultural practices – and threatens to further degrade the world’s oceans. Many coastal communities are already struggling to cope with sea level rise, depleted fisheries, loss of habitat, and increased catastrophic storm effects. To understand how such changes occur we need to look not only at how natural systems work, but also at the histories, cultures, and policies of people who live on coasts and islands in different regions. This requires a place-based, multi-disciplinary approach, drawing from the humanities, sciences, social sciences and arts. Reciprocal interactions with diverse communities in ports of call and a real-world view of ocean issues from the deck of a sailing research vessel will offer a unique perspective on one of the most pressing environmental issues of the twenty-first century: the human impact on the environment.

You will earn up to 17 credits for your semester. For course descriptions, please see the SEA website. All courses are taught in English.

At Woods Hole, you will live in one of five fully furnished cottages. In preparation for going to sea, you will function as a team with your roommates and be responsible for the housekeeping, shopping, and cooking. While you are at sea, you will live on-board the ship.

Program Cost
You will pay SU tuition and a program fee. You may apply all SU financial aid except work-study. The program fee includes: pre-departure meeting, international travel insurance, orientation, room and prepaid grocery card on shore, and room and board at sea. For the program fee and further explanation of estimated costs, please see the most recent financial planning budget here:
SEA Semester Global Ocean Budget 2018-2019.pdf

Cara Hardy, Counselor,

Apply Now
Applying to this program requires completion of both the Syracuse Abroad and SEA application.

Syracuse University
SEA Semester
  • Complete SEA Semester’s application.
  • Follow instructions from SEA for supplemental documents.
SEA Semester

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring 2022 10/01/2021 ** Rolling Admission 01/02/2022 01/02/2022
NOTE: Dates are tentative and subject to change.

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.