*L. Magaard, PhD (Chair) DSC—geological and geophysical oceanography,
submarine volcanism, hydrothermal, geothermal and mineral formation processes
Cooperating Graduate Faculty
W. L. Au, PhD—marine bioacoustics and echolocation
Affiliate Graduate Faculty
P. Falkowski, PhD—University of Rhode Island, pytoplankton evolution
and ecology, photosynthesis, coral biology, and biogeochemical cycles
Degrees Offered: MS in oceanography, PhD in oceanography
The Academic Program
Oceanography (OCN) is the study of the physics, chemistry, and geology of the ocean and the ecology of organisms that live within the sea. Physical oceanography is concerned with ocean circulation, waves, tides, upwelling, air-sea interactions, and the effect of the oceans on climate. Chemical oceanographers study the distribution of dissolved substances in the ocean and the mechanisms, both natural and anthropogenic, that control their form and abundance. Geological oceanography includes the study of sea-floor spreading, submarine vulcanism, beach formation, deep-seabed mineral resources, sediments, and paleoceanography. Biological oceanographers study the interactions of marine organisms with one another and the environment. Topics include coral reef ecology, marine fisheries, hydrothermal-vent communities, plankton ecology, and near-shore and deep-sea benthic communities.
Because Hawai‘i is located near the middle of the largest ocean on Earth, oceanography has a special significance for the state and the UH. At UH Manoa, the oceanography facilities are among the best in the U.S. and include three ocean-going research vessels and two research submarines. Biological studies are facilitated by the presence of the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology on Coconut Island in Kane‘ohe Bay. Computing facilities are based on a growing network of nearly 300 Sun workstations, Macintosh, and personal computers. Precision instruments include mass spectrometers, gas and liquid chromatographs, liquid scintillation counters, a CHN analyzer, a flow cytometer, and a series of atomic spectroscopy-based instruments. The world-class faculty is actively involved in both teaching and research. UH ranks fifth among universities in the nation in terms of National Science Foundation research funding for oceanographic research. The location, the facilities, and the faculty all make UH an ideal place to study oceanography.
About 40 percent of marine scientists are employed by the U.S. government, especially by the defense, commerce, and interior departments. Another 40 percent teach and do research at academic institutions. About 20 percent are employed by industry.
The MS and PhD in oceanography are recognized WICHE regional graduate programs. Residents of Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming are eligible, upon admission, to enroll at Hawai‘i-resident tuition rates.
Each student admitted to the oceanography department is assigned an advisory committee by the department chair. The committee initially consists of three graduate faculty members from at least two of the subdisciplines of oceanography. When formed, the student’s MS or PhD committee becomes the student’s advisory committee. A student must meet with his or her advisory committee at least twice per year. A written report summarizing each meeting must be signed by the student and his or her committee and a copy placed in the student’s file.
The department offers master’s and doctoral programs with areas of specializations in biological, chemical, geological, and physical oceanography.
Oceanography courses listed in this Catalog may be taken for credit in the degree program. Additional courses may be selected from the fields of botany, chemistry, engineering, geology, mathematics, meteorology, physics, and zoology.
Applicants must have intensive, rigorous training in one of the basic sciences or engineering. Regardless of major, an applicant must have completed mathematical training, including calculus through first-order ordinary differential equations (equivalent to Calculus IV at the UH). An applicant must also have a year each of physics and chemistry. The well-prepared student will also have covered classical thermodynamics and applied differential equations and will have had a semester each of biology and geology. GRE test scores (General Test only) are required. Interested students should write to the department chair for a brochure and further information. For U.S. applicants, the deadline for application for admission is February 1 for the fall semester and September 1 for the spring semester. For foreign applicants, the corresponding deadlines are January 15 and August 1.
All students pursuing a degree program must take OCN 620, 622, and 623. For non-biological students, the sequence is completed by taking OCN 621. Biological students complete the sequence by taking OCN 626, 627, and 628. Marine Geology and Geochemistry students must take CHEM 351 (if they have not already successfully completed a college-level course in physical chemistry). Students may be admitted to the MS program upon successful completion of the appropriate sequence. To be admitted to the PhD program, a student must receive a positive recommendation from a PhD-qualifying committee.
Both the MS and PhD programs require a minimum of 36 credit hours, including 24 credit hours of course work and 12 credit hours of thesis or dissertation research. The 24 semester hours of course work must be in courses numbered 600 or above (excluding OCN 699 and 700 and seminar courses). At least 12 of those semester hours must consist of courses taken from three of the following groups: biological oceanography, geological oceanography, chemical oceanography, physical oceanography, mathematical methods and statistics, and meteorology.
Prior to completion of their graduate degree, Biological Oceanography
students must have satisfactorily completed either an undergraduate or
graduate course in statistics. Students specializing in Marine Geology
and Geochemistry must take at least one, and preferably more, advanced
biogeochemistry course. All students must complete a seminar requirement,
demonstrate computer competency, and accumulate at least 30 days of field
experience. PhD candidates must also pass a comprehensive examination.
All students must pass a final oral examination in defense of their thesis/dissertation.
Please note: This Catalog was prepared to provide information and does not constitute a contract. The University reserves the right to change or delete, supplement or otherwise amend at any time and without prior notice the information, requirements and policies contained in this Catalog.
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