Placeholder image for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Joint Program in Oceanography

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Joint Program in Oceanography, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 24 months
University rank #1 (QS) Cambridge, MA, United States
Most students enter the Joint Program with a Ph.D. as their goal. For students entering with appropriate undergraduate preparation (a Bachelor of Science or equivalent degree in a relevant science), the academic program is typically made up of two years of graduate-level course work.
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Midway through the first year or at the end of the second year, doctoral students then take a qualifying examination that tests their preparation to go forward with thesis research. When passed, the student will then present a proposal of thesis research, normally about six months after their qualifying exam. 

From there, the student will then focus on their thesis research, which requires another two to three years. Students who enter the program with a Master of Science degree may be able to complete the doctoral program in a shorter amount of time

During the classroom-intensive phase of their studies, students are expected to be in residence near MIT. When students are no longer taking classes full time, they are expected to reside where their advisor/lab is located and to obtain housing in the local community. Students at either campus have access to a wide range of facilities and other resources including transportation to and from WHOI and MIT.

Students who have academic interests that span two or more science disciplines may readily combine courses and other academic preparation drawn from these disciplines. Joint Program policy is aimed to facilitate such interdisciplinary studies and includes examples of recent Joint Program students' curriculum.

All entering students are assigned a primary academic advisor chosen from the faculty of either MIT or WHOI, and are also assigned to a home discipline from the list below. 

These important choices are made based upon either a student's request at the time of the application or admission or based upon a match of the student's preparation and stated interests. It is not unusual for a student to change advisors or home disciplines as s/he develops specific research interests.

During the first semester, or as early as practical, each Joint Program student should form an Academic Advisory Committee to plan a tentative, individualized course of study. 

The Academic Advisory Committee will consist of the student's primary academic advisor and at least one other faculty member, ideally from the other institution. The student's Academic Advisory Committee will be responsible for monitoring his/her progress up to and through the general exam, after which the oversight will shift to the student's Ph.D. thesis committee.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 24 months
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Courses include:

  • Principles of Oceanographic Systems
  • Underwater Vehicles: Sensing & Systems
  • Three Biology Topics Courses
  • Elements of Modern Oceanography
  • Presenting Scientific Research
  • Special Topics in Paleoceanography
  • Geological Oceanography
  • Advanced Marine Seismology
  • Marine Microbiology &Geochemistry
  • Kinetics and Mass Transport
  • Marine Chemistry
  • Marine Organic Chemistry
  • Laboratory in Physical Oceanography
  • Introduction to Observational Physical Oceanography
  • Hydraulic Phenomena in Geophysical Flows
  • Computational Ocean Modeling

English Language Requirements

  • Minimum required score:


    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.

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  • Minimum required score:


    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 ®.

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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 24 months.
  • National

    44720 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 44720 USD per year and a duration of 24 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.


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