A revolution is underway in ocean observing: vast increases in data from ocean models and observations have enormous potential to benefit marine industry, policy, and society. These opportunities, and challenges, require ocean data-literate students to power this ‘new blue economy’.

At Rutgers we train students to meet these challenges through hands-on experience with cutting-edge ocean observing data, analysis, and forecasting technology.


In this compact 15-month Masters program students get hands-on training preparing them for jobs spanning the maritime industry, offshore energy sector, local/state/federal agencies, and non-profits. In addition to coursework, students will gain real-world experience in the operations center of a U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS)-certified ocean observatory. For more, see the Program Description tab below.

Operational Oceanography Students will:

  • Deploy cutting edge technologies including ocean moorings, high frequency radar, underwater autonomous vehicles, buoyancy gliders, surface drifters, and autonomous surface vehicles
  • Learn about numerical forecast models
  • Master state-of-the-art software and data analysis methods for marine data
  • Take on and solve real world ocean observing challenges in collaboration with industry, government, and academic partners
  • Write a thesis and submit an abstract to the Marine Technology Society OCEANS meeting

Program Faculty

Oscar Schofield

Distinguished Professor and Department Chair

Scott Glenn

Board of Governors and Distinguished Professor

Josh Kohut


Travis Miles

Assistant Professor

Grace Saba

Assistant Professor

Alumni Profiles

Joseph Anarumo:

Joe  currently works as an Environmental Science Analyst at Sage Services where he will runs data analysis for the Water Quality Compliance Modeling Program for the watershed of Philadelphia. His thesis, “An Open-Source Software Application for Drifter Trajectory Prediction in the Mid-Atlantic Bight”,  plugged local observational resources into the drifter simulation code OpenDrift to create an easy to use tool for tracking things floating in the mid-Atlantic bight.

Julia Engdahl:

Julia an Oceanographic Data Specialist in support of NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (CO-OPS). She is a member of the CODE and AI groups where she collaborates on many code-based projects.Her thesis, “Developing an automated analysis of fish migration video using computer vision algorithms”, developed and tested algorithmic and machine learning approaches to analyzing underwater video monitoring.

The Master’s in Operational Oceanography has given me the opportunity to pave my own path in my career at Lynker and excel applying the skills I gained in the program!

Ailey Sheehan:

Ailey is a graduate of Rutgers with a degree in Marine Science. Her thesis work in the Masters program focuses on the development of open-source software tools to process acoustic data collected by gliders. These tools will enable efficient monitoring of a wide range of ocean biomass.

Ted Thompson:

Ted is a graduate of Kean University with a degree in Environmental biology. He is working on the advanced development of a pH sensor carried about gliders in an academic/industry partnership with Sea-Bird Scientific.


Malarie O’Brien

The masters track is structured as a compact 15-month program providing thorough but efficient applied training. It provides a concise path for marine science undergraduates to earn a masters with a single year of additional training (a “4+1” model).

The program begins in summer with an immersive ocean observing experience. Students arrive in late summer and engage in hardware camps focused on core underwater Glider (week 1), and High-Frequency Radar (week 2) technologies, followed by a two-week Software Bootcamp.

Students continue through two semesters of coursework and research, culminating with an applied thesis submission and defense in the second summer. Each semester includes three (3-credit) courses that cover a wide range of ocean observing technologies and include both lecture and hands-on laboratory components.  Through independent research courses (3-credits) during each semester, students develop thesis projects with a faculty mentor. Theses are selected from a curated list that have been vetted by faculty for feasibility on a short timeline, and that emphasize skill building for marine industries.

Summer Session III:


The aim of the course is to introduce some widely used software tools and teach basic coding practices. The goal is to help students jump start research by acquiring the skills to work efficiently with their data. Topics to be covered include: Jupyter notebooks/lab, the Unix shell: interacting with your computer programmatically and reproducibly, Python programming (including common geoscience libraries: numpy, matplotlib, pandas, xarray, cartopy …), version control (git), accessing public earth science datasets. The course will assume no prior coding experience and is aimed at beginners. The course will aim to build a solid programming foundation to accelerate your data analysis. The course will culminate in a project of each student’s choosing. Ideally this will be a task that directly builds on/complements your research.

Fall Semester:

16:712:505 Integrated Ocean Observing 1:
The course exposes students to a wide range of operational data streams anchoring ocean forecasting with hands on training using Eulerian tools and time series approaches.

16:712:507 Field Laboratory Methods 1:
This field course provides hands-on training in the field. The focus will be on providing a range of practical skills for the remote sensing and fixed point ocean data systems.

16:712:510 Operational Ocean Modeling/Visualization 1:
Course provides an overview of the major modeling and numerical tools with a focus on using operational modeling systems, running the models, and using model outputs as a synthesis tool.

Spring Semester:

16:712:506 Integrated Ocean Observing 2:
The course exposes students to a wide range of operational data streams anchoring ocean forecasting with hands on training using Lagrangian tools and time series approaches.

16:712:508 Field Laboratory Methods 2:
This field course provides hands-on training in the field. The focus will be on providing a range of practical skills for using mobile autonomous systems.

16:712:511 Operational Ocean Modeling/Visualization 2:
Course uses the major modeling and numerical tools that will be used to inter-compare regional and global models outputs as well as comparing the model/data comparisons.

For more information about the Masters of Operational Oceanography, please contact Patty Gillen.