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2021 Ocean Engineering Degree Guide

The ocean covers most of the earth's surface, yet is still full of mysteries scientists have yet to uncover. If you would like to develop structures to help us understand, protect, and utilize the world's largest resource, consider majoring in Ocean Engineering.

Ocean Engineers mix different types of engineering from civil to electrical to chemical with a knowledge of the ocean. Some of the tasks they may complete include developing instruments to take measurements, building structures to control water levels, and constructing underwater tunnels. In order to prepare for this career you will take classes in oceanography, civil engineering, naval architecture, computer-aided design, and maritime systems along with more specialized classes like analysis of ocean waves and air-sea interactions to learn everything about the Ocean Engineering field.

Rapid Growth in Ocean Engineering Degrees Awarded

#297 Most Popular Major
346 Degrees Awarded
11.8% Increase in Graduates

Ocean Engineering was the 297th most popular major in the 2018-2019 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 346 degrees in this year alone. This represents a 11.8% increase in OE degrees awarded over the prior year's total of 305.

There are 7 schools offering degrees in ocean engineering in the United States. Explore this or one of our many other custom OE rankings further below.

Requirements for Getting a Degree in Ocean Engineering

Since Ocean Engineering combines the field of engineering with oceanography, students should have a strong background in math, chemistry, and physics. Strong critical thinking and problem solving skills will aid students in designing new structures that can withstand the corrosive and unpredictable nature of the ocean. It is also important you are able to work in teams and have strong communication skills to explain projects and ensure they move along successfully.

Although most engineers typically work in an office setting, ocean engineers must be flexible enough to make trips to the field location. Depending on your occupation, you may have to travel to work on a project and put in longer hours to ensure timely completion.

Like other engineering majors, experience through internships will give students the ability to work hands-on in the field as well as making them attractive to future employers. Students may work summer jobs, internships, or participate in summer learning programs to gain this additional experience.

Prior Education for an OE Program

ocean engineering degree applicants generally need have finished high school or their GED. Many schools may also have GPA and SAT/ACT score minimums that must be met. In addition to these basic ocean engineering program qualifications, to serve in some OE careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.

Types of Ocean Engineering Degrees

There are many different OE degree levels. You can get anything from a bachelor's degree in ocean engineering to the highest OE degree, a research/scholarship based doctorate. The time it takes to complete a OE degree varies depending on the program.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to OE, with approximately 39.3% of workers getting one. Find out other typical degree levels for OE workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 47.2%
Master’s Degree 20.8%
Doctoral Degree 17.3%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 4.8%
Post-Doctoral Training 3.3%

Most workers in OE have at least a master's degree. The chart below shows what degree level those who work in ocean engineering have obtained.


This of course varies depending on which OE career you choose.

OE Careers

Average Number of Jobs
$61.2k Average Starting Salary
7% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

The possible career options available to Ocean Engineering majors are as vast as the ocean itself. Graduates have the skills of an engineer and are able to specialize in anything ocean related. Some graduates are working to preserve endangered areas, building dikes and other water control methods, constructing rigs to survey the ocean floor, and developing materials to withstand the corrosive environment. The skills and experience this degree opens many different doors.

Growth Projected for OE Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your OE degree? Ocean Engineering careers are expected to grow 7.1% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to ocean engineering.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Architectural and Engineering Managers 190,000 5.5%
Engineers 141,000 6.4%
Engineering Professors 54,600 14.7%

How Much Money Do People With a OE Degree Make?

Ocean Engineering graduates between 2015-2017 reported earning an average of $61,200 in the 2017-2018 timeframe. Earnings can range from as low as $61,200 to as high as $61,200. As you might expect, salaries for OE graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid OE Careers

Salaries for ocean engineering graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers OE grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Architectural and Engineering Managers $148,970
Engineering Professors $113,680
Engineers $99,410

Getting Your Ocean Engineering Degree

With over 34 different OE degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased OE school rankings to help you with this.

Ocean Engineering is one of 38 different types of Engineering programs to choose from.

Majors Similar to OE

Related Major Annual Graduates
Mechanical Engineering 47,405
Electrical Engineering 31,384
Civil Engineering 21,938
Computer Engineering 15,891
Chemical Engineering 14,406

View All OE Related Majors >


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