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Physical Oceanography, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 60 months
    Duration

About

These complex oceanic motions occur over a wide variety of space and time scales including:

  • Grand persistent currents, like the Gulf Stream and the wind-driven ocean gyres
  • Transient eddies and waves of all sizes and speeds from surface gravity waves, to slower internal waves beneath the sea surface, to planetary-scale Rossby waves
  • Estuary and rivers outflows onto the continental shelf
  • Coupled ocean-atmosphere interactions, both local and global

Physical oceanography has important applications in global climate and coastal studies. It is also a key element in interdisciplinary studies of primary production, hydrothermal vents, and oceanic flux and storage of carbon dioxide.

Air and water

There are similarities in how the atmosphere and the ocean move and, as such, physical oceanography has much in common with meteorology. As in the atmosphere, relatively intense frontal systems exist in the oceans. Mixing and stirring occurs across these oceanic fronts, caused by a variety of physical processes ranging...

  • From instabilities of large-scale currents such as the Gulf Stream that generate long-lived "rings," much as atmospheric storm systems are spawned from the Jet Stream
  • To salt fingers, no bigger than a centimeter, which produce efficient vertical exchanges of salt and heat between different water masses

Understanding the interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean is also a key challenge for physical oceanographers. The ocean and atmosphere drive each other in as yet poorly understood ways, with a multitude of consequences.

From lab to field

Physical oceanographers employ a wide variety of scientific skills and approaches, from the most descriptive to the most theoretical, to explain oceanic motions. Want to be both a theorist and an experimentalist? This field is one of the few areas of physics in which you can achieve that goal. In fact, students in the Joint Program have the opportunity, and indeed are encouraged, to develop skills and experience in both approaches.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 60 months
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Courses include:

  • From instabilities of large-scale currents such as the Gulf Stream that generate long-lived "rings," much as atmospheric storm systems are spawned from the Jet Stream
  • To salt fingers, no bigger than a centimeter, which produce efficient vertical exchanges of salt and heat between different water masses

English Language Requirements

  • Minimum required score:

    7

    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Schedule IELTS
  • Minimum required score:

    90

    The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120. Read more about TOEFL iBT ®.

    Schedule TOEFL®

General Requirements

Admission requirements:
  • Field of interest
  • Personal information/addresses
  • International student data
  • Three or more names and email addresses of letter writers
  • Scanned copies of your Official College Transcripts
  • Educational and work history
  • Statement of objectives
  • Outside financial support and potential outside support
  • Credit card payment of $75

Tuition Fee

  • International

    44720 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 44720 USD per year and a duration of 60 months.
  • National

    44720 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 44720 USD per year and a duration of 60 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.

Living costs for Cambridge

  • 1814 - 3760 USD/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.

Funding

Students admitted to the program are admitted with full funding (i.e., stipend, health insurance for a single person, and tuition). The funding that we offer is usually in the form of a research assistantship or internal fellowship, or a combination of the two.However, we do encourage applicants to pursue whatever options are available in their particular case for outside financial support (e.g., fellowships from organizations that sponsor graduate studies at a US-based university) since, when a student brings in outside support, we are able to stretch our limited financial resources and admit more students than we might be able to do without these additional resources.For information on fellowships for internationals, please visit the MIT Office of the Dean for Graduate Education website.We urge applicants to apply for these funds, if they are available, at the same time that the application to graduate school is submitted, so that we are made aware of the possibility of these funds in each applicant's case.Applying for outside funding is not a requirement for admission, i.e., if there are no sources of funds in your particular case, you may leave this area blank.

Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.

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