Applied Ocean Science (AOS)

Information for  the Applied Ocean Science PhD program and Master's degree programs

Applied Ocean Science is multidisciplinary and focused on the application of advanced technology to ocean exploration and observation. Applied Ocean Science (AOS) PhD and Master's degree students perform research in marine acoustics, optics, electromagnetics, geophysics, ecology, sediment transport, coastal processes, physical oceanography, and air-sea interaction.

The emphasis is on the resolution of key scientific issues through novel technological development.

The curricular group's science focus is complemented by parallel Applied Ocean Science programs in both the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) and the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) departments. Students have access to professors, courses, and research facilities across all three departments.

Requirements for Admission

In addition to the general requirements for admission to the PhD program listed here, students are admissible to the AOS program with a strong background in physical science, engineering science, or mathematics. Three years of physics or engineering and three years of mathematics at college level are expected. 

Program of Study for PhD

Students admitted to Climate-Ocean-Atmosphere Program (COAP) choose a curricular group by the end of the fall quarter. This choice is aided by the student’s guidance committee, which includes a chair from one of the COAP curricular groups. The guidance committee will help to arrange an individually tailored set of first-year courses for the student, and to ensure that the student has taken all necessary courses to prepare for the departmental exam. During the year, students may be supported in a variety of ways, but by the end of the spring quarter students must choose a research adviser. After the first year the guidance committee is dissolved, and the research adviser, and eventually the dissertation committee, provide guidance.

The AOS academic program is designed to provide both a broad background and a core technical base to support the diverse interests and activities of its students. Early participation in an ongoing research project is encouraged. However, specialization and focus on a specific thesis topic is not required until the second or third year of the program.

Required courses include the two quarter Wave Physics sequence SIOC 202 A-B. Two of the four SIO introductory courses, (SIOC 210, 240, 260, 280), must be completed during the first year, with the remaining two courses required prior to passing the doctoral qualifying exam at the end of the third year. In addition, the applied math sequence, SIOC 203 A-B or MAE 294 A-B is taken in either the first or second year of study. Additional coursework is designed to focus on the students' area of study.

The AOS Seminar (SIOC 208) serves as a communications bridge across the program; enrollment in this seminar is required during the student's entire period of study. Beyond these core courses, the majority of each student's academic program is tailored to individual interests.

The AOS departmental examination, held at the end of the first year, is based on the core technical courses SIOC 202A–B, and two of the four introductory courses (chosen by the student). The exam has both oral and written components.

Program of Study for MS

The applied ocean science academic program is designed to provide both a broad background and a core technical base to support the diverse interests and activities of the students.

Required course work:

  • SIOC 202A and SIOC 202B. Fundamentals of Wave Physics (two-quarter sequence; 4 units each)

Any two of the following SIO introductory courses:

  • SIOC 210. Physical Oceanography (4 units)
  • SIOG 240. Marine Geology (4 units)
  • SIOG 260. Marine Chemistry (4 units)
  • SIOB 280. Biological Oceanography (4 units)

Elective course work:

Students may fulfill the remaining units of required course work through elective course offerings selected in consultation with the students’ guidance committee. In addition, enrollment in SIOC 208 (Seminar in Applied Ocean Sciences, one unit per quarter) is expected during the student’s entire period of study. SIOC 208 serves as a communications bridge across the program.

Research in Applied Ocean Science

Applied Ocean Sciences Faculty and Researchers: