Ocean Science Concentration

Concentration in Ocean Science

The field of ocean science encompasses four subdisciplines covering marine geology, marine chemistry, physical oceanography, and biological oceanography.  There is a strong interdisciplinary overlap among all four of these sub-disciplines.  An EAS concentration in ocean sciences touches on all four subdisciplines but is often tailored to emphasize one of the sub-disciplines over the other three.


Marine Geology

Marine geology often involves the study of seafloor processes associated with plate tectonic motion (e.g., spreading centers and seafloor subduction). It may also address the issue of coastal erosion and the impact of sea-level rise on coastline stability.  

Marine Chemistry

Marine chemistry is arguably the most inter-disciplinary of the four subdisciplines.  This area of marine science might involve the study of global-scale cycles of the major elements on earth such as carbon or nitrogen. Or it might involve the use of chemical tracers to delineate deep ocean water mass movements. More recently, this discipline has been in a race to understand human-caused ocean acidification and ocean de-oxygenation resulting from global warming.

Physical Oceanography

Physical oceanography is the study of fluid dynamics at geophysical scales. This might involve the study of coastal wave dynamics, coastal upwelling, open-ocean eddies, air-sea exchanges of heat, freshwater and momentum or global-scale heat transport via meridional overturning circulation (aka, conveyor belt circulation).  

Biological Oceanography

Biological oceanography is the study of marine food webs and their role in the global biogeochemical cycling of major elements.  More recently, biological oceanographers have been in a race to understand the impacts of global warming and ocean acidification on marine ecosystems. 

Course Requirements

Discovery Opportunities

There are many student organizations focused on sustainability for students to join including Epsilon ETA, ECO, and many others. Cornell has over 1,000 student organizations for students to join! 

Graduate School Opportunities

Students have gone on to complete Masters and Ph.D.'s in ocean science. Students who are considering an advanced degree will also be well-prepared for graduate school.

Job Market

A concentration in ocean sciences will build a skill set that is scientifically strong and sufficiently interdisciplinary to prepare students for a wide range of post-graduate opportunities. These opportunities include employment with government agencies, non-profit conservation organizations, and a range of marine-related industries.