The Department of Oceanography at the University of Hawaiʻi offers Master’s and Doctoral degrees in the field of Oceanography. Students in the Department specialize in one of three sub-disciplines: biological, marine geology and geochemistry, or physical oceanography. Both the M.S. and Ph.D programs are academically challenging and are designed to prepare students for careers in academia, industry, and government. M.S. and Ph.D programs require independent research as well as basic and specialized courses. Information about these programs is provided in the Graduate Student Handbook (PDF); important aspects of the programs relevant to prospective students are summarized below:

  • Prospective applicants are highly encouraged to find a faculty member who shares their research interests and is willing to sponsor the student. Such sponsorship includes willingness to serve as the student’s major advisor and provide financial support for the student. Student’s chances of successful admission are greatly increased with a faculty sponsor. Applicants should contact faculty members well before the December 15 or September 1 application deadlines to discuss sponsorship. It is recommended that students identify and contact faculty whose interests are similar as early as possible.
  • Applicants must have a record of rigorous university-level coursework in science or engineering, including undergraduate studies in biology, physics, chemistry, geology, mathematics, microbiology, zoology, or related fields.
  • All applicants must have completed college-level mathematics and calculus courses that include linear algebra, ordinary differential equations, and vector calculus. Applicants must also have completed at least one year each of college-level physics and chemistry.
  • GRE scores (general test only) are no longer required for admission to the Department. TOEFL scores are required of foreign applicants for whom English is not their primary language.
  • Upon admission to the program, students take interdisciplinary core courses, in addition to courses required by the subdisciplines. Students must also demonstrate competence in computer programming, and have at least 30 days of field-work experience.
  • Degree requirements for the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are typically completed within 2 to 3 years and 4 to 6 years of admission, respectively.
  • Upon admission to the Department, students are mentored by a primary thesis advisor, with additional guidance provided through appointment of an Advisory Committee and advisement by the student’s Thesis Committee.
  • Students may advance to M.S. candidacy upon successful completion of required core courses. Master’s students must also write and publicly defend a thesis. With approval of an Advisory Committee, students may petition for direct advancement to Ph.D. candidacy.
  • Upon completion of core courses, a Comprehensive Examination is administrated designed to test the student’s general knowledge in their field of study. Students advance to Ph.D candidacy upon completion of the Comprehensive Examination. Completion of the Ph.D program requires a written dissertation and a public defense of the dissertation.


U.S. applicants, deadlines to submit applications for admission to the graduate programs are December 15 for Fall admission and September 1 for Spring admission. For foreign applicants, the corresponding deadline is December 15 and August 1.

financial aid

Most of the Department’s graduate students receive financial support as Research Assistants on federally-funded research grants and contracts. The Department also has several state-funded Teaching Assistantships. Both research and teaching assistantships include tuition waivers. In addition, scholarships in varying amounts are awarded annually on a competitive basis.

applications and required forms

The official application form is available at the University of Hawaiʻi Graduate Division Admissions page. The application and supporting documents become the property of the University and are not returned or available for distribution.

All information that needs to be submitted can be found in this APPLICANT CHECKLIST (PDF).

Forms required by the Department can be found here. Safari users should download and fill out PDF files offline:

Application Forms for Admission and Financial Aid are also available by writing to:

The Department of Oceanography
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
1000 Pope Road
Honolulu, HI 96822

frequently asked questions

Click Here (PDF)