SEA Semester Undergraduate Study Abroad Programs

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About

The importance of understanding the ocean is more important now than it has ever been. SEA Semester helps students to achieve that understanding through studies in Nautical Sciences, Oceanography, and Maritime Studies.

The program is broken up into two components, with the first starting at our campus in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. During this six-week shore component, students prepare for their research cruise in the second part of the trip and design their own research projects to be conducted at sea. During the research cruise, students take on the roles of both the scientific team and the sailing crew on one of SEA's research vessels. Students navigate the state-of-the-art vessel by the stars, analyze oceanographic samples, and visit foreign, less-traveled-to ports.

Choose from nine SEA Semester programs offered during the fall and spring.

Highlights
  • Based in the oceanographic research community of Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
  • Students are active crew members participating in all science and deck operations at sea aboard one of our two custom designed and build sailing research vessels.
  • No sailing experience necessary.
  • Open to all majors, from all over the world.
  • Transferable academic credit from Boston University.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

10 Rating
based on 4 reviews
  • Academics 8.8
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 9.5
  • Housing 8.5
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 4 of 4
Default avatar
Derek
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Unlike any other Study Abroad

I had always wanted to attend a study abroad, but never really knew when would be a good time to do so. I had spoken to some people about SEA Semester and got really interested. I would not trade the experience for anything. Receiving college credit for standing as lookout on the bow of a ship or counting phytoplankton while undersail is a pretty unique experience. The bonds that were built between students will last a lifetime, as will the memories of the amazing sights encountered while at sea.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Climbing up to the very top of the mast of the ship, I overcame this by asking myself when else would I get the opportunity to climb to the top of a tallship?
Default avatar
Adam
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An experience like no else

The SEA Semester is unlike other study abroad programs. Spending several weeks out in the ocean may seem daunting, but life out at sea is incomparable to any other study abroad. The Protecting the Phoenix Island program comprised of three weeks on the Woods Hole Campus, and then six weeks out in the Pacific Ocean. During the time at Woods Hole, a strong camaraderie is built among all students. All the classes at Woods Hole are well structured, and although they are only three weeks long you learn a lot from them. During the time at sea, all of the information you learned on land is applied in your independent research and policy discussions. Actually being inside of a marine protected area and seeing it ecosystems while discussing how to better protect them provides more depth and gravity to the topic than just a lecture in a classroom. Just as important as the academic component, the social aspect of SEA is spectacular. Through the Protecting the Phoenix Islands program, you form strong bonds with all of you shipmates leaving lasting friendships. You are also able to experience the culture of the people on Kanton with a large celebration party with everyone. Life at sea offers its own culture as your values and your perception of day to day events change. It is not uncommon to feel stress free, appreciate all the little things, and often reflect on who you are as a person and what you are going to take away from this experience. Lastly, and probably the most important to people considering this program is the coral reefs and islands. The coral reefs you are able to snorkel on display vivid hues of green, purple, and blue. All the reefs are expansive, and seemingly undisturbed by man kind. There is a plethora of ocean wildlife to see, from whales and dolphins, to sea turtles, sharks, and manta rays. On days when we were allowed to explore the islands, everyone would just spend hours looking at all the birds, consuming numerous coconuts, and realizing just how beautiful nature can be. This program was once that truly changed my perspective on what I want to do with my future career, and what I want out of life. If you are looking for a study abroad program with lasting impacts and exposure to vibrant oceanic landscapes, this one is perfect!

What would you improve about this program?
It was all amazing. The only thing I would improve is giving maybe $50 more a week for groceries during the land portion.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Kara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Adventure of a Lifetime

I went to PIPA on S-287 in summer of 2019. This trip has had a serious impact on me, and I am not sure I will ever experience anything like it. If you are at all into the outdoors, the ocean or communal living, sailing with SEA is a great experience. I can’t speak to a social scene, because for six weeks I saw no one but the 40 people living on Kanton in Kiribati and the 35 people on the SSV Robert C. Seaman’s, but the people I met on this boat have become extremely close friends, and the things I’ve seen are unlike anything else. I learned so much about the kind of life I want to lead, and am so thankful to SEA for making this kind of adventure accessible to students. I wouldn’t recommend this to folks who are not okay with being constantly active or uncomfortable, as sailing can get really crazy, and the watches make for an intense schedule.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
The six weeks on the boat go super quickly. Don’t waste time and appreciate every moment, even the ones that aren’t picturesque.
Default avatar
Rachael
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

SEA Semester: The Best Three Months of My Life

Every part of this program was well worth the price. The staff were great, the classes were interesting and informative (for someone with little science background), the facilities were phenomenal...there really was nothing I did not like. I completed this program after college due to scheduling conflicts, and I am so glad I did, because I can say with confidence that I have never been happier than during those two months at sea. Granted, if you get sea sick easily, you might not enjoy it as much as I did. But I highly recommend you give it a shot if you have any interest at all in sailing.

The best part of this program is that you are the crew. You may be a student, with classes and homework, but you are also responsible for the function of the ship. It is not easy, but it is a hands-on learning experience that will teach you a lot about yourself as well as the topics covered in class. I want nothing more than to go back to French Polynesia to sail once more. I did Semester at Sea as well during my college years, and while it was informative and fun circumnavigating the globe, it was not nearly as rewarding as actually steering the ship, navigating using nautical charts, and setting sails.

An absolute ten out of ten adventure from start to finish!

What would you improve about this program?
I wish it had been longer. I had a fantastic time learning all about sailing, oceanography, nautical science, and marine cultures, but it was all compressed into such a short period