About Oceanography

The ocean plays a central role in physical, biological, chemical, and geological processes on Earth. As such, a degree in oceanography involves studying the interactions between the biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere.

Oceanography courses are recommended for anyone interested in better understanding and living with the natural water bodies around us, in understanding the global climate system, and in making informed decisions on matters pertaining to interactions between natural Earth processes and society.

Oceanography, an interdisciplinary science, requires expertise in chemistry, physics, biology, geology, mathematics, computer science, and critical thinking. It requires skill in problem-solving, analysis, scientific inquiry, and communication. Students completing the Associate in Science in Oceanography will be prepared for upper-division studies in oceanography and for transfer to an oceanography program at a four-year college. To accomplish this goal, majors will complete transferable lower-division courses in oceanography, biology, math, chemistry, and physics. 

Explore Potential Careers

Studying Oceanography can lead to a variety of different jobs or career paths. Below are just some of the many options you will have.

  • Underwater Archaeologist
  • Ocean Advocate
  • Harbormaster
  • Commercial Fisherman
  • Aquaculturist
  • Aquatic Ecology Technician
  • Environmental Educator
  • Aquatic Veterinarian
  • Underwater Cinematographer
  • Marine Biologists 
  • Marine Geologists 
  • Geophysicists 
  • Marine Chemists 
  • Physical Oceanographers 
  • Atmospheric Scientists and Climate Researchers 
  • Biological Oceanographers
  • Marine Physicists 
  • Federal Government
  • Department of Energy National Laboratories
  • Academia
  • National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • National Marine Fisheries
  • U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy
  • State Coastal Commissions (California Coastal Commission)

Program Options 

Click on the degree below to see a sample map of courses to take to complete your goal from start to finish.

Please note that the course maps provided are just an example to help you get started. Please meet with a counselor or Katryn Wiese, the Earth Sciences Department Program Coordinator, to personalize the plan to you and your Academic goals. What you want to do with your degree (transfer or career) makes a big difference as to which courses you should be taking and whether you want to complete the major or not. 

View FULL Requirements in College Catalog

The following pathway is just one option -- built for students who are not yet ready to start Calculus. There are many more options available. Please review the College Catalog description to make your own pathway.

Also note that not all transfer institutions require the same curriculum, so if you know you plan to transfer, especially if you know where you want to transfer, please look at that their requirements and focus on meeting those.

Semester 1 

Course Number Course Title Units Notes
OCAN 1 Oceanography 3  
OCAN 1L Oceanography 1L 2  
MATH 90+ 90s Precalculus Algebra + Support 5-8  
CHEM 40 Introduction to Chemical Principles 5  

Total Units: 15-18 

Semester 2

Course Number Course Title Units Notes
ENGL 1A + 1AS University-Parallel Reading and Composition + Support 4-6  
MATH 95 Trigonometry 3  
CHEM 101A General College Chemistry 6  
CCSF GE Area D Social and Behavioral Sciences Requirement 3  

Total Units: 16-18

Semester 3

Course Number Course Title Units Notes
MATH 110A Calculus I 5  
PHYC 41 Preparatory Physics 3  
GEOL 10 and GEOL 10L OR BIO 100A and BIO 100B Physical Geology and Physical Geology Lab OR General Biology and General Biology 5-10  

Total Units: 13-18

Semester 4

Course Number Course Title Units Notes
MATH 110B Calculus II 5  
PHYC 4A Classical Mechanics for Scientists and Engineers 3  
PHYC 4AL Mechanics Lab for Scientists and Engineers 1  
CCSF GE Area E Humanities 3  

Total Units: 12


Semester 5

Course Number Course Title Units Notes
MATH 110C Calculus II 5  
PHYC 4B Electromagnetism for Scientists and Engineers 3  
PHYC 4BL Electromagnetism Lab for Scientists and Engineers 1  
CCSF GE Area F United States History and Government Requirement 3  
CCSF GE Area H Ethnic Studies, Women's and Gender Studies and LGBTQ Studies 3  

Total Units: 15

Transfer Options

The program coursework you complete at City College will satisfy lower-division requirements for related majors at several colleges and universities. Start planning your transfer by exploring Oceanography programs at the following institutions.