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Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences

Prospective Student Information

Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences Department LogoOceanography is one of the most academically diverse, exciting, and applicable majors at the Naval Academy.  Our program is designed for hands-on students with a strong interest in quantitatively studying the world around them.  The Department of Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences features world-class undergraduate laboratory facilities, state of the art oceanographic equipment, and unique internship opportunities that allow our majors to refine the skills required to apply the geophysical concepts from lecture to real world problems including:

  • Investigating complex biogeochemical processes and interactions within the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Operating both underwater and aerial autonomous vehicles to study all aspects of our environment, all over the world.
  • Developing realtime weather forecasts for operations on the Yard as well as chasing severe weather across the United States.
  • Researching how tropical atmospheric waves can impact global, regional, and localized atmospheric and oceanic processes through teleconnections.
  • Analyzing the drivers of climate change and impacts on future military operations.
  • Researching and identifying environmental conditions that are favorable for tropical cyclone development.
  • Writing computer scripts to securely and efficiently handle and analyze large environmental data sets in a cyber sensitive environment.
  • Investigating and exploring the deep sea environment with unmanned vehicles.

For the latest Department of Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences brochure, including course lists, curriculum requirements, and information about the department and facilities, click here.


In the Classroom

Our faculty includes six tenure-track civilian professors, five rotational military instructors with recent fleet experience, four permanent military professors, and two civilian instructors of practical applications. Oceanography majors take 13 courses in oceanography, meteorology, and applied mathematics; students in the honors program take 14 courses.

Course Breakdown by Year:

  • 3/C year: 
    • Descriptive Physical Oceanography
    • Introduction to Meteorology
    • Statistics for Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences
  • 2/C year: 
    • Biogeochemical Oceanography
    • Atmospheric Thermodynamics
    • Oceanography and Meteorology Quantitative Methods
    • Oceanic & Atmospheric Processes
    • 1st Elective/ Honors Research Methods
  • 1/C year: 
    • Waves and Tides
    • Underwater Acoustics and Sonar
    • 2nd and 3rd Major Electives
    • SOC Capstone Course or Independent/Honors Independent Research

Potential Electives: Geological Oceanography; Geographical Information Systems; Polar Oceanography; Nearshore Oceanography; Biological Oceanography; Estuarine Oceanography; Ocean Exploration; Global Climate Change; Synoptic Meteorology; Remote Sensing; Tropical Meteorology; Energy Analysis, Policy, and Security.

Oceanography Department Major Flow Chart

Learn more about all of the department courses >>

Conducting Research / Participating in Internships

Beach SurveyFaculty directed research opportunities include, but are not limited to, global teleconnections, the survey of century old ship wrecks, oxygen depletion and oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay,  autonomous vehicles surveys, and tropical cyclone development. Over the past two decades, our department has produced a Rhodes Scholar, 9 Trident Scholars, numerous conference presentations and articles in conference proceedings and several refereed journal articles. Learn more >>

Our internships program includes, but is not limited to, storm chasing over the Great Plains States, flying through hurricanes,  autonomous underwater vehicles research, emergency management and climate mitigation practices, study climate change in Greenland, and sampling sea ice in the Bering Sea.  Learn more >>

Applied Data Science in Meteorology and Oceanography

HOLApplied data science in meteorology and oceanography is the collection, acquisition, processing, organization, analysis, and scientific interpretation of complex and diverse geosciences datasets. This approach emphasizes (1) the role of purpose-oriented and quality controlled data collection and acquisition, and (2) the application of practical analytical techniques and skills, both of which are used to understand and analyze real-world datasets with the framework of atmospheric and oceanographic theory and concepts that are taught in the major. The Department of Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences  boast a state-of-the-art dedicated data server (EDMAPS server) and local micronet (SRWO).

Laboratory Facilities and State-of-the-Art Equipment

HOLThe Naval Academy boasts the most extensive undergraduate oceanographic facilities in the country. Located at the mouth of the Severn River, the Hendrix Oceanography Laboratory is a multi-function enclosure where midshipmen study the world's largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay. The Hendrix Lab includes a Teaching Lab, Autonomous Vehicle Lab, Microscopy Lab, and Field Lab. The Department's research vessel, YP686, a specially outfitted yard patrol craft, enables midshipmen to collect oceanographic and meteorological data for analysis afloat or at the Hendrix Lab.  The department also maintains four lab spaces in Chauvenet and Michelson Halls including an Environmental Data Lab, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab and Coastal Oceanography Lab. 

In the Fleet / Graduate School / Civilian Careers

686 Sails Away

 After graduation, our majors pursue careers in surface warfare, submarines, naval aviation, the Marine Corps (air / ground), special warfare, and other fields. Approximately three graduates per year attend immediate graduate school at the University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (joint program with Massachusetts Institute of Technology). After their initial tours, a few transfer into the Naval Oceanography community and graduate degrees in Oceanography and Meteorology at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. Learn more about oceanography and meteorology in the Navy and Marine Corps >>

After transition to the public sector, employment opportunities exist in the federal government (NOAA, NSF, USGS, NASA, EPA, Department of Energy), in over 500 academic institutions that offer courses in oceanography and meteorology related fields, and in private industry (Engineering Companies, Fisheries, Petroleum Industry and Marine Policy). Learn more about civilian careers >>

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