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Oceanography Associate in Science

Oceanography applies an eclectic mix of natural sciences to the study of the world’s oceans. Physics, chemistry, biology, geology, geography, meteorology and even astronomy contribute to understanding the composition, structure and motion of seawater, and its interaction with the lithosphere, atmosphere and biosphere.

Although a few four-year institutions offer undergraduate degrees in oceanography, students who pursue oceanographic studies typically complete undergraduate degrees in one or more of the aforementioned natural sciences, then later apply that knowledge to graduate study in oceanography. The associate degree in oceanography outlined below provides beginning lecture, lab and field courses in oceanography, plus a solid foundation of math and appropriate science courses upon which transferring students can build baccalaureate degrees that are later applied in graduate oceanographic studies.

Career Opportunities

Boat Captain
Chemical Oceanographer1
Environmental Advocate
Marine Archaeologist1
Marine Biologist1
Marine Economist1
Marine Geologist / Geophysicist1
Marine Lawyer1
Marine Policy Specialist1
Ocean Engineer1
Ocean Fisheries Specialist1
Ocean Resource Management1
Ocean Technician
Physical Oceanographer1


Bachelor’s degree or higher required.

The Program-level Student Learning Outcomes (PSLOs) below are outcomes that students will achieve after completing specific degree / certificate requirements in this program.

  1. Students will find, use and evaluate resources for oceanographic information.

Associate Degree Major Requirements

Note: All courses must be completed with a letter grade of “C” or higher or “Pass.”

CHEM-141General Chemistry I5
CHEM-142General Chemistry II5
GEOL-110Planet Earth3
MATH-180Analytic Geometry and Calculus I5
OCEA-112Introduction to Oceanography3
OCEA-113Oceanography Laboratory1
Select two of the following:8-10
Marine Biology
Principles of Biology
Analytic Geometry and Calculus II
Mechanics and Waves
Electricity, Magnetism, and Heat
Select six units from the following:6
Environmental Biology
Environmental Chemistry
Introduction to Geographic Information Science
Physical Geography: Earth Systems
Meteorology: Weather and Climate
Earth History
Geologic Field Studies: Southern California Mountain Areas
Geologic Field Studies: Mojave Desert and Adjacent Areas
Geologic Field Studies: Southern California Coastal Areas
Geologic Field Studies: Colorado Desert/Salton Trough Area
Field Exploration: Colorado Plateau
Field Exploration: Cascade Range/Modoc Plateau
Field Exploration: Basin and Range Province
Field Exploration: California Coastal Mountains
Field Exploration: Sierra Nevada
Geology of California
Geology of the National Parks
Natural Disasters
Field Study of the Natural History of the Greater San Diego Region
Total Units36-38

Plus General Education and Elective Requirements