All photos by Tim Briggs
All photos by Tim Briggs
All photos by Tim Briggs

Three Seas

Northeastern’s signature Three Seas Program is a Master of Science Marine Biology program giving students the opportunity to spend a year studying in three different marine environments: New England (US), Panama and the Pacific Coast (US).

About the Program

Three Seas Program provides students the opportunity to study marine biology in three distinct environments at three world-renowned research facilities in New England, the Caribbean, and the Pacific Northwest. An internship in the field and independent research project provide the capstone to the fifteen-month graduate program.

Much more than course work in a classroom, the MS in Marine Biology—Three Seas Program delivers inquiry-based curriculum in marine science during which our students formulate research questions, design and conduct critical experiments, and interpret and present results. You will have an opportunity not only learn science, you have an opportunity to learn how to do science and become a marine scientist.

This program is for students eager to broaden their knowledge of marine biology or who want to further refine their interests.

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Photos by Tim Briggs


Students begin the Three Seas Program at Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center in Nahant, on New England’s Atlantic coast. Students gain the strong foundation needed for subsequent portions of the program in the fundamental areas of research diving, marine biology, ecology, oceanography, and experimental design. Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center is located on 20 acres at the end of East Point, a rocky point extending into the Atlantic Ocean that has a view of the north shore of Massachusetts and the Boston skyline. Though Nahant is situated only 12 miles from a major harbor and city, the prevailing coastal currents provide remarkably clean and stable seawater at East Point. The 9.5 ft. tidal amplitude and undisturbed rocky shoreline provide a great variety of intertidal and subtidal communities ideally suited for investigations of rocky shore ecology. The sheer cliff faces, which extend subtidally to a depth of 40 ft., represent a unique biome.

No other year-round laboratory on the Atlantic coast of the United States has an exposed rocky ocean frontage like the Marine Science Center; it is exceptional in its close proximity to many Boston area academic and research institutions. Facilities at the MSC include: a flow-through sea water system, research laboratories, offices, wet lab with flowing seawater, dive locker, dedicated classroom space, and greenhouse. The lab has several small boats for nearshore work.

Learn about the MSC


Students travel to Panama on the Caribbean Sea to study tropical marine sciences at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Bocas del Toro Research Station on Isla Colon.

Students are fully immersed in Panama’s diverse tropical ecosystems and unique geographical location. The institute is within walking and swimming distance of lagoon, coral reef, seagrass, and mangrove habitats. Nearby fringing coral reefs provide superb diving and snorkeling opportunities. Students complete coursework in coral reef ecology, ocean and coastal processes, as well as tropical terrestrial ecology utilizing Smithsonian’s classrooms, wet and dry laboratories, dive lockers, and research vessels.

Friday Harbor

Students complete the program at Friday Harbor Laboratories, the marine research and education facility of the University of Washington. Here, students conduct field-intensive coursework that explores the pristine rocky intertidal habitats, kelp forests, and oceanic settings in the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

Located in the San Juan Archipelago of Puget Sound on San Juan Island, local waters are cold and well-mixed. The marine flora and fauna are exceptionally diverse. Habitats include rocky shores, mud flats, sandy beaches, and a wide range of subtidal environments. The labs are located on a 484 acre forested biological preserve on the outer coast of Washington’s wave-exposed rocky headlands, high-energy sandy beaches, and estuarine systems.

Undergraduate Option

Three Seas is an intensive, inspiring, and rewarding program for undergraduate upperclassmen interested in pursuing a career in marine science after graduation. Northeastern students are able to use the program as one method to complete degree requirements for the BS in Marine Biology.

Three Seas puts study into practice with field-work, research, and diving. Three Seas cohorts develop lasting relationships, not only amongst their fellow students, but with the faculty teaching the courses.

Study Abroad Option for Visiting Students

For non-Northeastern students, Three Seas is a great alternative to the typical study-abroad program. In addition to your studies, your participation can lead to a network of colleagues, future research partners, and new friends. Visiting students studying at a land-locked institution have the added benefit of experiencing three different marine ecosystems, which would otherwise be unavailable. Visiting students should check with their home institution regarding credit transfers.

Current Northeastern Undergraduates:

Please apply to the program using the Three Seas Application form.

  • The form will automatically allow access to your transcript.
  • Provide 2 references with contact information.
  • Provide a personal essay.

Application review begins March 1 but applicants are reviewed on a rolling basis. If interested, please email Three Seas Program Manager Andrea Jerabek for undergraduate cohort schedule and availability.

Graduate Applicants:

If you have questions about the application process or program please email the Three Seas Program office.

Master of Science in Marine Biology Program Requirements:

  1. Transcripts
  2. Personal Statement
  3. Resume
  4. Three Letters of Recommendation
  5. Recommended Prerequisite Coursework: Marine Biology, Ecology, Genetics, Biostats
  6. Supplemental Writing Sample (optional)
  7. Learn more about the graduate application process here.

Medical Insurance and Diving

Students must supply a medical examination and evidence of medical insurance coverage for the program year. All students planning on SCUBA diving with the program must have diving certification and Diver’s Alert Network (DAN) insurance. Students have the option to rent the following SCUBA gear from Northeastern:

  1. Buoyancy Compensator: $65/yr
  2. Regulator: $65/yr
  3. Dive Computer: $70/yr
  4. Drysuit: $150/yr (*only if drysuit certified)

Students are required to provide the following personal gear items:

  1. Wetsuit
  2. Mask
  3. Snorkel
  4. Fins
  5. Dive knife or shears
  6. Dive light
  7. Weight (10 lbs)

All classes using SCUBA for fieldwork also have projects for snorkelers. Students wanting to become SCUBA certified should do so by the summer before the program starts and have ten open water dives before beginning this program.

Please read the Northeastern University Standards for Scientific Diving and complete all of the Required Scientific Diving Paperwork prior to participation in our scientific diving program.

Questions? Contact us.

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