MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography

The Joint Program of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers advanced degrees in oceanography and applied ocean science and engineering. Graduate study encompasses virtually all of the basic sciences as they apply to the marine environment: physics, chemistry, geology, geophysics, and biology. Students who choose applied ocean science and engineering may concentrate in the major fields (civil, environmental, mechanical, and electrical), materials science, or oceanographic engineering. More than 160 scientists/faculty from the two institutions participate in the Joint Program. There are currently 107 students enrolled in the five areas of study offered in the program: biological, chemical, and physical oceanography; marine geology and geophysics, and oceanographic engineering.

Since all the MIT faculty involved in the Joint Program are members of an academic department, their individual accomplishments and awards are reported through those departments. These include Courses I, II, VI, VII, XII and XIII.

Title of Degrees Offered by the Program

As part of a campus-wide initiative at MIT to revisit the graduate degree list in terms of specifications of degrees being offered by the various departments and programs, the Joint Program has revised the list of titles of degrees offered by the program. After consultation with the chairs of the five disciplinary committees, the two Joint Program Directors submitted the finalized list to the heads of departments both at Woods Hole and at MIT. If the parties agree with the proposed modifications, the list will then be forwarded to the Dean for Graduate Students for MIT approval.

Curriculum Modifications

The description of the curriculum in physical oceanography has been updated to reflect the variety of tracks which students can pursue within their course of study. Formally identifying these tracks was found to be helpful not only to current students in physical oceanography, but to those applying to the program.

The curriculum in marine geology and geophysics, chemical oceanography, and physical oceanography is currently being revisited in order to address new areas of concentration such as paleoclimate, paleoceanography, climate studies and geochemistry. The general exam structure is also being reviewed so that it may be more consistently applied across the various disciplines.

Student Apartment at 100 Memorial Drive

After receiving many requests for a furnished apartment for students who commute regularly from Woods Hole to Cambridge and who need a temporary place to stay on campus, the Joint Program rented a unit at 100 Memorial Drive for one year as an experiment. This experiment proved to be a success and the apartment has now become a permanent feature of the program at MIT.

Paola Rizzoli, Ronni Schwartz

More information about the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography can be found online at

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