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The chemical oceanography curriculum includes core courses and electives. Each student formulates a program of studies with the assistance of academic advisors drawn from both MIT and WHOI.

Students are expected to attend research seminars and to complete widespread independent reading of the literature. They are encouraged to explore the diverse course offerings in other departments at MIT as well as to take advantage of the opportunity to cross-register at Harvard, Brown, or Boston University.

Core courses

There are only two required courses in chemical oceanography:

  • Introduction to Marine Chemistry
  • Seminar in Chemical Oceanography

Students take the seminar during each of the first two years. The topic of the seminar varies from year to year, but it always involves an oral presentation by each student and extensive participation in classroom discussion.


Students typically choose elective courses from those offered at WHOI and at MIT by the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. In addition, many students take MIT courses in the departments of Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics; many also take courses at Harvard and the Boston University Marine Program.
Examples of electives include:

  • Geochemistry of Marine Sediments
  • Modeling, Data Analysis, and Numerical Techniques for Geochemistry
  • Ore Deposition at Submarine Ridge Axis
  • Quaternary Paleoceanography
  • Environmental Organic Chemistry
  • Marine Isotope Chemistry

For more complete information on course offerings, see the MIT catalogue.