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

Three Seas

Spend a year in the field studying three unique marine environments that include North Atlantic rocky shores, tropical coral reefs, and North Pacific kelp habitats while networking with world-renowned faculty and alumni.

About the Program

The Three Seas Program is an immersive and field-intensive program in marine biology with a focus on research, applied marine sustainability, conservation, and restoration. This unique program allows students to live and work in three distinct environments at world-renowned research facilities in the Northwest Atlantic, the tropics, and the North Pacific.

We offer inquiry-based curriculum that is centered around three major learning objectives: acquire the fundamental knowledge to understand the forces that shape different marine ecosystems, develop scientific rigor through the design, execution, and analysis of cutting-edge experiments, and create a portfolio of quantitative skills that promote success in the field of marine science.

Student SCUBA divers receive a Scientific Diving certification through the American Academy of Underwater Sciences and complete an average of sixty dives among the three locations. Students are guided and challenged by a faculty team of renowned marine researchers from around the world both on land and in the water.

Opportunities exist for both undergraduate and graduate (MS) students. Completion of the MS Marine Biology for PlusOne or traditional master’s students includes 40 semester hours of instruction and culminates in a six-month guided internship and concurrent independent research project. Undergraduate students may work with their academic and major advisors to include the Three Seas coursework in their undergraduate degree plan. Undergraduates who are not currently enrolled in Northeastern are welcome to apply to the program. Scroll down to view the different options available.

Graduates of the program are employed in environmental consulting, non-profit work, state and federal government, outreach and education, and scientific research support. For those who want to pursue higher education, our alumni are routinely accepted into the top marine and ocean science doctoral and veterinary programs across the country. Click here(insert link to alumni stories) to explore the stories and careers of our program alumni.

Follow our social media below for current happenings in Three Seas!

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Photos by Tim Briggs

panama bird island
panama coral view

Andrea Jerabek (she/her)
Three Seas Program Manager
Diving Safety Officer
Part-Time Lecturer; Diving Research Methods & Marine Biology Career Seminar
[email protected]

Andrea oversees all program operations, travel logistics, and diving safety procedures. Andrea graduated with a B.S. in Biology from S.U.N.Y Geneseo in 2014 and is a proud alum of the Three Seas Program having earned her M.S. in Marine Biology from Northeastern in 2015. After completing her degrees, Andrea worked as a coastal ecologist in Louisiana at The Water Institute of the Gulf where she collaborated with a multidisciplinary team of physical, natural, and social scientists studying key ecological processes in the coastal wetlands of the Gulf of Mexico. In her free time, Andrea enjoys playing tennis, spending time with friends and family, hiking in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and perfecting her pizza-making skills.

Erin Sayre (she/her)
Three Seas Field Operations Specialist
Assistant Diving Safety Officer
[email protected]

Erin manages diving and logistical operations abroad with the Three Seas Program and assists with dive programs at the Marine Science Center. She graduated from Northeastern University in 2017 with a BS in Marine Biology. Erin has been a member of Northeastern’s Marine Science Center community since participating in the first all-undergraduate Three Seas cohort in 2016. After graduation, Erin worked as a research technician in Dr. Geoffrey Trussell’s Marine Ecology and Evolution Lab where she managed lab operations and coordinated daily fieldwork trips throughout the Gulf of Maine. Erin joined the Three Seas and Dive Safety teams in 2018 and is excited to be back in the water with the program and training Northeastern’s scientific divers!

Tara Duffy (she/her)
Three Seas Faculty Head
Associate Teaching Professor
Three Seas Instructor; New England Marine Biomes

Tara brings her research experience and her passion for teaching students to communicate science into courses that include marine sciences, evolution, and food security, and sustainability. She graduated from Stony Brook University in 2010 with a PhD in Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. She then worked at the USGS Conte Anadromous Research Center and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium where her research focused on how anthropogenic stressors impact invertebrate and fish populations. She teaches a summer study abroad course that explores conservation biology in the Romanian Carpathian Mountains. In her free time she’s crafting, cooking, open-water swimming, and spending time with family.

Graduate Curriculum (40 semester hours)

Fall semester – Nahant, MA (18 semester hours)

  • Marine Spatial Planning
  • Sustainability of the Land-Sea Interface
  • Experimental Design Marine Ecology
  • Marine Biology Careers Seminer
  • Dive Research Methods

Spring Semester – Abroad (20 semester hours)

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama (9 weeks)

  • Biology of Corals
  • Ocean and Coastal Processes
  • Tropical Marine Ecology
  • Biology and Ecology of Fishes

Friday Harbor Laboratories, Washington (8 weeks)

  • Marine Birds and Mammals
  • Conservation and Restoration of Marine Systems
  • Changing Global Oceans

Summer and Fall Semesters, Years 1-2 (2 semesters)

  • 6-month graduate-level internship
  • Graduate in December

Undergraduate/PlusOne Curriculum (40 semester hours)

Summer II Semester – Nahant, MA (8 semester hours)

  • Sustainability of the Land-Sea Interface
  • Advanced Field Methods
  • Dive Research Methods

Fall Semester – Abroad (20 semester hours)

Friday Harbor Laboratories, Washington (8 weeks)

  • Marine Birds and Mammals
  • Conservation and Restoration of Marine Systems
  • Marine Invertebrate Zoology and Botany

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama (8 weeks)

  • Biology of Corals
  • Ocean and Coastal Processes
  • Tropical Marine Ecology
  • Biology and Ecology of Fishes 

At the end of fall semester, PlusOne students would graduate with their BS and transition to graduate student status.


Spring Semester – Boston, MA (10 semester hours)

  • Marine Spatial Planning
  • Professional Development for Ocean Sciences (PlusOne only)
  • Choice of elective (4 credits)

Summer and Fall Semesters, (2 semester hours)

  • 6-month graduate-level internship
  • Graduate in December

Northeastern scholarships and financial aid may be applicable to Three Seas courses taken as an undergraduate student. Please reach out to Student Financial Services or the Three Seas Program Office to discuss.

Please note, the slight differences between curriculum for undergraduate students build upon Northeastern degree program requirements to maximize the depth of knowledge for current Northeastern University students.

Graduates of Three Seas pursue a wide variety of careers in environmental consulting, non-profit work, state and federal government, outreach and education, and scientific research support.

Graduate Option:

The Master of Science in Marine Biology (Three Seas) is a 40 credit graduate program open to anyone who is eager to deepen their knowledge of marine biology and develop skills for successful employment in marine science.  Northeastern University graduates are eligible for the Double Husky discount.


Deadline for priority admission is January 1st. Applications received after January 1st are reviewed on a rolling basis. 20 students are accepted into the fall path cohort.

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university
  • 3.00 GPA
  • Biostats, Marine Biology, Ecology
    • Taking all three courses (or their equivalent) is not mandatory, but is highly recommended. Three Seas is an accelerated research and empirically-intensive program. These program prerequisites will better prepare you for success in the program.
  • English proficiency can be fulfilled with one of the following
    • Degree earned or in progress at an U.S. institution – or –
    • Degree earned or in progress at an institution where English is the only medium of instruction – or –
    • Official exam scores from either the TOEFL iBT, IELTS, Duolingo or PTE exam

Application Materials

  • Official undergraduate institution transcripts
  • Resume
  • Personal statement
  • Writing sample (e.g., lab report, capstone manuscript, science communication article)
  • Three letters of recommendation

The GRE is NOT required and is not considered in the admission process for this program

Given the intense field-oriented curriculum, complex logistics, and high cost of the program, an informational visit to the Marine Science Center in Nahant is advised (preferably during the summer). To schedule an informational visit, email the Three Seas Team at [email protected].

Undergraduate/PlusOne Option:

Northeastern University undergraduate students are eligible to participate in Three Seas and complete a PlusOne bachelor’s/master’s degree program.

How does it work?

The PlusOne option allows students to accelerate the attainment of their master’s degree by applying 16 semester hours from Three Seas curriculum completed as an undergraduate toward  their master’s degree. Degrees are earned sequentially with bachelor’s degree  completion immediately followed by a PlusOne year to complete the master’s degree.

Students interested in the PlusOne option will enter Three Seas as a senior completing their last two undergraduate semesters in the program students then graduate with their BS and transition into the master’s program.

Undergraduate students from any major may still participate in Three Seas after completing prerequisite coursework. We do accept students to the program who are not enrolled at Northeastern University.

If you are interested in participating in Three Seas, please email your academic advisor, Three Seas Program Manager (Andrea Jerabek; [email protected]), and Three Seas Faculty Head (Dr. Tara Duffy; [email protected]) to review your degree audit and develop an academic plan.

To learn more about PlusOne programs at Northeastern, click HERE.


Deadline for priority admission is December 1st. Applications received after December 1st are reviewed on a rolling basis. Undergraduate students must contact the Three Seas team at least one year prior to the start of the program. Twenty undergraduate students are accepted into the summer path cohort and applications are competitive. Click here to view the curriculum and program timeline.

  • Currently enrolled Northeastern undergraduate student
  • 00 GPA
  • Biostats, Marine Biology, and Ecology prerequisite coursework
  • PlusOne
    • Must be Marine Biology, Environmental and Sustainability Sciences, or Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major at Northeastern University
    • Must apply online and submit application materials listed above in the Graduate Option section

Questions about the application process? Email the Three Seas office at [email protected].

Scientific Diving

All students are encouraged to participate in the program using SCUBA. Completion of the program while snorkeling is also possible. If you are interested in participating in scientific diving during the Three Seas program, please review the requirements to participate 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.


Students begin the Three Seas Program at Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center/Coastal Sustainability Institute (link to Homepage – Northeastern WordPress)  located in the Gulf of Maine. Students actively study in coastal habitats that include the rocky intertidal, salt marshes, eelgrass beds, shrub kelp, and rocky reefs. At the same time students have the option of earning their scientific research diver certification. The Marine Science Center (MSC) is located on a 20-acre campus at the end of Nahant, MA, a rocky peninsula extending into the Atlantic Ocean within view of 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, and the 10 ft. tidal amplitude and  rocky shoreline provide a variety of intertidal and subtidal communities ideally suited for underwater research.

No other year-round laboratory on the Atlantic coast of the United States has an exposed rocky ocean frontage like the Marine Science Center, close proximity to many Boston area academic and research institutions, and access to a diverse array of field sites. Facilities at the MSC include a flow-through sea water system and wet lab, research laboratories, offices, dive locker, dedicated classroom space, and experimental greenhouse.

During the Nahant semester, master’s students can elect to live in Willis Hall at Northeastern’s main campus in Boston. Undergraduate students should continue to secure housing through the Northeastern housing lottery system. Students are also welcome to live off-campus in Boston or closer to Nahant to suit their needs..

There is a free daily shuttle running to and from the Boston campus for all students of the Three Seas Program. Students who are not living on main campus may still elect to take to shuttle to Nahant.

Learn about the MSC


Explore tropical ecology and reef processes in Panama on the Caribbean Sea to study tropical marine sciences at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Bocas del Toro Research Station.

The program fully immerses students 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 biology of corals, fishes, ocean and coastal processes and tropical marine ecology utilizing Smithsonian’s classrooms, wet and dry laboratories, dive locker, and research vessels.

Housing is provided on the Smithsonian campus in shared rooms. Dorms are connected to a small dining hall where all meals will be cooked and provided by Smithsonian chefs.

Students spend approximately nine weeks at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute followed by a one-week trip across the country to Coiba National Park, a marine preserve off the Pacific coast of Panama.

Learn about the Facilities at STRI

Friday Harbor

Friday Harbor Laboratories, the marine research and education facility of the University of Washington, offers students the opportunity to conduct field-intensive coursework that explores the biodiverse rocky intertidal habitats, kelp forests, and the unique geography of the San Juan Islands. Located in Puget Sound, local waters are cold and productive, while the marine flora and fauna are exceptionally diverse. Habitats include rocky shores, mud flats, sandy beaches, and a wide range of subtidal environments including large kelp communities. The labs are located on a 484-acre forested biological preserve on San Juan Island with a mix of exposed, rocky headlands, sandy beaches, and tidal estuaries.

Traditional dorm-style housing is provided (2 students per room) on the Friday Harbor campus. Meals are cooked and provided by Friday Harbor Laboratory chefs in the large communal dining hall. Students spend approximately 8 weeks at Friday Harbor Laboratories. (Photo by Angela Fan)

Learn about the Facilities at FHL

Past Locations

In its 35+ year history, the Three Seas Program has included Jamaica, The Channel Islands, French Polynesia, and other locations in its programming. Instruction locations for the abroad portion are subject to change to reflect the best opportunities for our students.

Room and Board Abroad

Housing abroad is arranged by the Three Seas Program. Room and board costs for Panama and Washington are not included in tuition. Costs are comparable to mid-level apartment accommodations and a full meal plan at Northeastern. For information on current Three Seas room and board costs, please email [email protected].

The demanding requirements and accelerated timeline of the program preclude opportunities for teaching or research assistantships. As a result, students must pay their own tuition. For information on current tuition and student loans please visit :

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.

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