Online Oceanography Courses and Classes Overview

Students in online oceanography courses study the chemistry of seawater, the composition of the ocean floor and the human impact on marine life. These interdisciplinary science courses can be taken as electives or as part of a degree program in oceanography, marine science or a related area.

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Oceanography Courses Offered Online

The online courses below represent a sampling of what is offered through degree programs in oceanography and related subjects.

  • Introduction to Oceanography Course: This online class provides an overview of the processes and components of oceans. The course will examine the natural systems that impact our oceans, including geological, meteorological and biological processes. The course will also weigh the consequences of human activity and global changes on ocean systems.
  • Chemical Oceanography Course: Students in this online oceanography course are taught the chemical composition of the oceans and how elements such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus are created and distributed. Students learn about the exchanges that take place between the air and sea. They also learn how to identify the processes that determine how chemicals will react in an aquatic environment.
  • Archaeological Oceanography Course: Through charts and diagrams, students explore what lies on the ocean floor, including natural and artificial reefs and shipwrecks. They review the ethical, legal and preservation issues that arise from salvaging items off the ocean floor, and they learn to use various navigation methods and tools to map it. Oceanography students learn about conservation techniques and how to collect marine data without harming the ocean system.
  • Physical Oceanography Course: This oceanography course teaches how gravity, wind, friction, radiation and the Earth's rotation determine the temperature of the ocean, the flow of currents and the patterns of salinity. Students learn about the heat exchange that takes place between the ocean and the atmosphere and how that affects the climate. The course teaches students how to identify and explain the various physical features found in the ocean.
  • Climate Change Course: Oceanography students learn the science behind climate change and how to predict what may happen by studying past results. They learn how the warming of the planet affects the ocean, the coastal environment and marine life. Students explore how climate change has a direct impact on humanity, such as the predicted rise in sea level or the increase of ocean temperatures.
  • Coastal Policy Course: This online course examines the problems and issues facing coastal systems, such as pollution, and the political challenges involved in enacting policy that protects the shorelines. Students review the major issues affecting the coastal environment and how to correct the mismanagement of resources.
  • Food Web Dynamics Course: Students explore the feeding patterns of marine animals. They learn how each animal is an important link in its food chain and how each chain forms a complex food web within the marine ecosystem. Students are introduced to the components and processes of trophic dynamics.
  • Paleoceanography Course: An online course in paleoceanography looks at climate change on an even larger scale, using data to investigate the climate over the past 500,000 to 2 million years. Students learn how to use quantitative tools, such as time series analysis and modeling, to investigate oceanographic data.
  • Acoustical Oceanography Course: Acoustics can often be used as a research tool by oceanographers, and this course looks at its current applications. Both theoretical and real-life examples of methods for utilizing acoustics to study marine mammal behavior, geology and climate research are examined.

Program Information

Online oceanography courses cross several scientific disciplines, allowing students to pursue concentrations in biological, physical, archaeological, chemical or geological oceanography. Courses are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and can be applied to degrees in fields like oceanography, biological science, marine science and geology. Some courses might be offered through a university's OpenCourseWare system for continuing education purposes. These options typically do not award credit.

Many oceanography jobs involve scientific research with a private or government organization. Depending on their area of focus, graduates could work as marine biologists examining aquatic life, ocean engineers designing marine structures and devices, ocean archaeologists salvaging lost shipwrecks or fisheries experts who determine seasonal quotas for the fishing industry.

Online oceanography courses cover a diverse range of general and in-depth topics in the field. Whether you're looking for an introductory course, a course involving government policy and climate, or a specialized course on an area like paleoceanography, distance learning is available to you.

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