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Programs : Brochure

If the program location currently has a travel warning issued by the U.S. Department of State, please consult a study abroad advisor before starting your application.
  • Locations: Woods Hole, Massachusetts, US
  • Program Terms: Fall, Spring, Summer
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Restrictions: Rice applicants only
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Click here for a definition of this term Program Type: Affiliate, Field Study, Research
Program Description:

people on BoatSea semester Boat


Sea Education Association is an internationally recognized leader in undergraduate ocean education. For 40 years and more than one million nautical miles, SEA has educated students about the world’s oceans through fully accredited study abroad program, SEA Semester.

By going to SEA, you can get a semester’s worth of credit for a 12-week program that takes place half on shore and half at sea. The rigorous interdisciplinary program begins in Woods Hole, one of the world’s great centers for ocean research. Here 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 open ocean and to international ports.


You will take courses and design your research project during the shore component of this program.  You will then complete coursework while at sea in addition to conducting your research.  Although this is a science-based program, any major can participate.  The more science background you have, the more advanced research you can conduct.

Every SEA Semester begins with a shore component in Woods Hole followed by an open ocean research cruise. Each program combines elements of oceanography, maritime history & culture, environmental studies, public policy, and nautical science.

While all SEA Semesters provide an interdisciplinary approach to studying the oceans, each program has an individual focus and schedule. You should apply for the semester that best fits your interests, academic calendar, and required coursework.

Program options for Rice students include: Ocean Exploration, Oceans & Climate, Energy & the Ocean Environment, Marine Biodiversity & Conservation and the SEA Summer program. Each program varies in cruise track, port stops, and dates.   

To learn more about Academics, visit

Student Life

Teamwork is the focus of this program.  While on shore you will have shared responsibility for the group quarters, shopping, and cooking.  At sea you will contribute as a working member of the ship’s company.  Time in port offers a break from the ship’s routine, a chance to explore different cultures, and an opportunity for critical research sampling. 

For student stories visit


While studying at Woods Hole you will live in one of the five fully-furnished cottages on Sea Semester’s campus.  At sea you will live aboard one of the two Sea Semester vessels.  Both are hands-on ships and serve as home to ten professional staff members and about 25 students.   There is a meal refund given to students for their meals at Woods Hole.


The first six weeks of your program will take place in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, a national center of oceanographic research.  The second six weeks you will spend sailing, doing coursework, and completing your research.  The ports of call along each cruise track vary by year.

For information regarding voyages visit