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Academic Programs

Physical Oceanography

Physical Oceanography is one of the three main divisions within the FSU Department of Oceanography, and is focused on the interaction between oceans and atmosphere and how that interaction influences and shapes our world.

Professors guide students in their study of wave motions, tides, currents, salinity and temperature of the oceans and how those properties influence weather and climate. Other avenues of study involve the transmission of light and sound through water and the ocean’s interactions with its boundaries at the seafloor and the coast.

Physical oceanography requires a basic understanding of geophysical fluid dynamics (the study of fluid motion on a rotating sphere), classical physics, and applied mathematics.

Research Highlights

(click on the professor’s name to take you to their individual research page.)


Dr. Chassignet

  • the role of the ocean in climate variability from the complementary perspectives of coupled ocean-atmosphere modeling and observations
  • emphasis on the study of thermohaline circulation, western boundary currents, associated eddies and their impact on the world ocean circulation

Dr. Clarke

  • where does red tide in the Northern Gulf of Mexico originate
  • understanding and predicting El Nino and the Southern Oscillation
  • decadal and longer climate change
  • coastal fisheries and coastal ocean climate variability

Dr. Dewar

  • understanding the dynamics of the ocean at scales from 100 km to 10,000 km, or equivalently from the deformation scale to the basin scale
  • dynamics of eddies
  • Gulf Stream rings and coherent structures
  • western boundary currents
  • forced and free mesoscale systems; mesoscale phenomena: nonlinear sciences
  • mixed-layer dynamics

Dr. Nof

  • movements of fluids within the ocean and its relationship to the interaction with the atmosphere above
  • ocean physics
  • physics of the Red Sea

Dr. Speer

  • ocean circulation 


Masters & Ph.D. Oceanography Graduate Program General Guidelines

Graduate Application Info

How to Apply

The application process at FSU is completely online. See the checklist below for required application materials and a link to the online application.

The department admits new students year round, though most of the faculty tend to admit students in spring to begin the following fall.

Department application deadlines for Meteorology are:

  • For Fall admission - January 15th
  • For Spring admission - November 1st


Department application deadlines for Geology are:

  • For Fall admission - January 15th
  • For Spring admission - October 1st

Department application deadlines for all other EOAS programs are:

  • For Fall admission - February 15th
  • For Spring admission - September 15th


University deadlines may differ. Please refer to the FSU Graduate Admissions office for university deadlines. You are advised to submit your application and supporting materials at least three months in advance of the semester you wish to enter. You may apply later than these department guidelines, but there are less likely to be openings available.

For further information about the university admissions process, visit the FSU Office of Admissions. For general information on funding opportunities, news, and events, degree programs, fee waivers, as well as University contact information, visit the Graduate School website. If you have questions about the Oceanography or Aquatic Environmental Science programs, contact the Academic Coordinator.

If you’re interested in specific courses, use the Course Lookup Form to search the Catalog of future, current, and past courses.

Use the following checklist to ensure you have correctly completed the application process: View/Print an Adobe version of this checklist



US or International On-Line Application
(opens in a separate window)
  • Read the instructions for this form carefully
  • Fill out the form completely
  • The online application system will as you for information that his needed both by our department and by the university, including your Statement of Interest
_____ Statement of Interest
  • State your reasons for choosing our department/area and your academic goals
  • You may wish to include information about your academic background and experience
  • This is part of the online application
_____ $30 Application Fee
  • A check or money order should be made payable to The Florida State University
  • This fee is not optional
  • The Office of Graduate Admissions will not process your application without it
  • The Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Science department has no mechanism by which we can request a waiver or pay the fee for you
_____ Official Test Results
  • As soon as possible, request that your GRE (and TOEFL if international) scores be sent to the university
  • FSU’s code is 5219
  • The Oceanography area’s code is 0508
  • The Geology area’s code is 0504
  • The Meteorology area’s code is 0507
  • International applicants must send TOEFL scores
  • These two requirements cannot be waived, postponed, or dismissed
  • The Office of Admissions will not process your application without them

Two Official Transcripts
  • These documents are requried from every university, college or school you have attended
  • The Office of Graduate Admissions will not accept copies


Three Letters of Recommendation
  • There is no specific form for these letters
  • University letterhead is acceptable
  • They may be mailed through the FSU application system or may be mailed directly to the EOAS Department/Oceanography area



It is in your best interest to complete your application as early in the admission season as possible.
Incomplete folders are not considered.


In addition, after reviewing the list of faculty inlcuded in our departmental brochure, you may directly contact the faculty member(s) whose research interests most closely parallel your own. The department does not admit students without a faculty sponsor.