Scripps SCUBA DIVERsity Program

Scripps student divers walking out of the surf.


The 2024-2025 Scripps SCUBA DIVERsity Program application cycle is opening soon. Please carefully review all of the information below and contact us at with any questions you may have. Thank you for your interest in this program.



Stories about the program:

Official Flyer


In 1954, Scripps Institution of Oceanography founded the first Scientific Diving Safety program, about five years before recreational SCUBA training was made available to the American public. Scripps Scientific Diving Program, combined with others like it, has helped to disseminate novel subtidal knowledge for generations. It has inspired the creation of other scientific diving programs like it across the world, and helped contribute to the formation of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) — the official purveyor of scientific dive training in the United States. At any given time, the Scripps’ program oversees 150-200 active scientific divers on UCSD’s campus, while certifying approximately 32 new scientific divers annually. 

The Scientific Diving Program at Scripps has produced hundreds of scientific divers (including several of the world’s first), one AAUS president, two NASA astronauts, and some of the world’s most ardent and prolific environmental researchers and advocates. Unfortunately, within the sport and profession of diving, divers of color are severely underrepresented, and our program is not immune to these trends. For many students, becoming any level of SCUBA-certified presents a wide array of cultural, physical, emotional, and fiscal challenges, exacerbated by a long-standing and ever-evolving history of unequal access to opportunities and water. Thus, in keeping with Scripps’s mission to educate and respond to the needs of a diverse and dynamic student body, the Scripps SCUBA DIVERsity Fellowship Program (hereafter, “The Program”) seeks to increase access to SCUBA training for outstanding undergraduate and graduate students who want to contribute to subtidal research and explore the ocean, and who have faced, or do face, barriers to inclusion in the dive community (be them financial, cultural, physical, or other).


The Scripps SCUBA DIVERsity Fellowship Program is designed to recruit and retain outstanding undergraduate and graduate students to/within the field of scientific diving. Students with any level of swim or dive proficiencies are encouraged to apply.

The Program is designed to remove barriers for students as they advance from learning to swim and dive, to becoming competent and confident Scientific Divers.1 The Program will, therefore, cover costs associated with swim lessons, swim and dive equipment, CPR/First Aid course(s), Open Water Diver certification, the Scripps Scientific Diving Course, the annual Scientific Diver Fee, and the Scripps Small Boating Course, as necessary. Applicants are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with the formal requirements of UCSD’s Scientific Dive Program, and if selected, will be expected to do so.

1 Please note that, while it’s anticipated that Fellows will enjoy SCUBA diving and seek to further their dive training through The Program, Fellows are not required to decide they like diving nor to achieve Scientific Diver status.

It is our hope that Fellows will also feel supported mentally by the design of The Program itself: Fellows will be selected to form a cohort of 3-5 students, and will be matched with a Dive Mentor. Mentors will help Fellows sign up for the correct swim classes (as necessary), offer advice on how to become a better diver, and provide mental, emotional and professional support as the mentee advances through the certification process. Mentors will be expected to communicate with their mentees at least once a month to ensure Fellows feel supported and have a point-of-contact to identify, discuss and resolve any issues that may arise with respect to training. Mentors can also serve as a dive partner to Fellows once the Fellows have completed their Open Water certification. Once the Fellows have received their Scientific Diver certification, they will (whenever possible) serve as future Mentors to incoming students, and participate in broader networking and community-building events sponsored by The Program to connect and support a diverse diving community.

After Fellows have finished The Program, they will be required to complete a short annual survey regarding their experiences throughout their Fellowship, and for five years following their graduation from UCSD/Scripps. Survey results will be used to continually evaluate the efficacy of The Program’s design and structure, and to track what opportunities became available to the Fellows as a result of their dive training.


The ideal applicant will have already demonstrated an interest in marine science and an intent to earn his/her/their degree from UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, or relevant program. Given the non-negligible amount of time necessary to participate in The Program (anywhere from 1-2 years, and several hours a week while taking the Scientific Dive class), applicants who have a year or less left to graduate are unlikely to be considered. Graduate applicants must demonstrate a need for scientific diving in their research (proposed or confirmed), whereas undergraduate applicants should strive to articulate a need but can also point to external opportunities and aspirations for the future.

Students with any level of swim or dive proficiencies are encouraged to apply, and applications from students who cannot swim, or do not yet feel comfortable swimming in the ocean, will be given full consideration throughout the selection process. The Program will ensure that students are provided with the resources and training necessary to comfortably and safely move towards their Scientific Diving certification.

Part of the intent of this Program is to remove barriers to diving for all students. Therefore, all UCSD students are welcome to apply, with special consideration given to students with a demonstrated financial need, lack of opportunities to access water sports, and/or students who have been historically or are currently underrepresented in the diving community.

Please note that there are strict, legal standards related to scientific diving. Any diver who wishes to participate in Scripps’s Scientific Diving Program must gain official medical clearance from a trained physician (this program will provide funds and guidance to do this). Understanding this, The Program will strive to make additional funds available to students with physical disabilities who are cleared to dive but may require additional equipment, training, or support.


We anticipate that this year’s application will open in late May or early June, (2024), and will remain open until late June or very early July (2024). 


When the application opens, you will be able to click here to access the Application for the 2024–2025 Cohort. Please note that to access the application (Google Form), you will need to view the form while logged on to your UCSD email account.

We recognize that submitting competitive applications is a time-consuming process. Thus, we’ve divided the Application into two “Rounds”. All applicants should fill out the meta-data and “Round 1” questions listed in the Google form linked above (pending). A handful of applicants will be selected to submit their answers to “Round 2” questions in July / August (2024), and all applicants will be notified of the committee’s decision by late August (2024). A preview of the Round 2 questions is provided in the form.


The Scripps SCUBA DIVERsity Fellowship Program team wants everyone to enjoy diving and to be aware of professional diving opportunities, regardless of whether or not they participate in The Program. Below are just a few of the opportunities available to student scientific divers. Check them out!

Opportunity/ExperienceTypeUndergrad/Grad Level
SEAGRASS monitoring (SIO)Research experienceUndergraduate & Graduate
Lab-sponsored dive projects at SIOResearch experienceUndergraduate & Graduate
Dive-specific NSF Research Experience for Undergrads (REU) (e.g., at USC-Wrigley, UCSB, and UCSC)Research experienceUndergraduate
SIOB 274: Natural History Below the TidesField courseUndergraduate & Graduate
Scripps Center for Marine Archeology- student opportunitiesField courses and research experience(s)Undergraduate & Graduate
Marine Field Technician (diving required)JobPost-Graduate & Graduate
Postdoctoral Scholar (diving required)JobPostdoctoral
PADI dive grantsGrantUndergraduate & Graduate
Women Divers Hall of Fame grantsGrantUndergraduate & Graduate
Explorers Club expedition grants (e.g., OceanX Grant)GrantPost-undergraduate & Graduate
AAUS scholarshipsGrantGraduate

The DIVERsity Program is situated in a wider landscape of programs designed to increase diversity in diving and access to water. Below are links to similar programs. Let us know of others!