microscopic organism

What to expect

What does it look like to be a Sea Change student?

This program might look and feel different than your typical college semester because you’ll be immersed in a professional laboratory setting. You can expect to be busy with courses, research, and Bigelow events Monday through Friday, typically from 9am to 5pm. Occasionally, there will be weekend field trips and optional excursions. Sea Change is a rigorous program and you will work hard. If you ask any alum of the program, the hard work pays off and often leads to exciting opportunities in the future!

Student using an iPad


While the Sea Change Semester is an experiential learning program, your experience will be grounded in 16 credits of rigorous ocean science courses. These courses include 6 research cruises and independent research projects.

Research Cruises

Research cruises happen in September, October, and November and are day-long endeavors. You will board the 48’ Research Vessel Bowditch to collect physical, chemical, and biological data. On these cruises, you will visit 4 stations from within the Damariscotta River Estuary to the open ocean. Typically, you will spend half a day beforehand preparing for the cruise and half a day after analyzing samples and cleaning gear.

Independent Research

Dr. Pete Countway and a student in a lab

As part of the program, you will work closely with a professional scientist at Bigelow to answer exciting questions in ocean science. These projects span topics and we work hard to match you with mentors that have aligned interests. Near the end of the program, you will complete a science communication workshop where you will learn how to share your research with a general audience. Be sure to check out videos about research projects from past program participants!

Field trips

The program includes 4 field trips that complement your coursework on campus. As part of the orientation in week 1, the group will kayak to a local island. Later in September, you will visit Monhegan Island for a day trip. During the first week of October, the group will venture to Port Clyde and take a boat to Allen Island for a few days. Later in October, there will be a day trip to Portland working waterfronts. In addition to these field trips, the group may have the opportunity to engage with lobstermen and local organizations addressing marine conservation locally.

Living in Midcoast Maine

Sea Change students live at the Graham Shimmield Residence Hall, overlooking the Damariscotta River. The new 15,000-square-foot eco-friendly facility is located on our campus just a short walk from the laboratory.

Dr. David Fields with students on a dock inBoothbay Harbor

The Residence Hall includes a communal fully-equipped kitchen and social area, adaptable meeting space, recreation areas, fitness room, laundry facilities, and wireless Internet access. Bigelow does not have a dining facility, so students are responsible for their own meals. We encourage students to cook and share meals together. Program fees include a stipend to cover the cost of groceries.

You are welcome to bring your car or bike, though housing is on campus within walking distance of the laboratory. The town of East Boothbay (within walking distance from our campus) has a general store, restaurant, post office, public dock, and beach. The town of Boothbay Harbor where you can get groceries is a 10 minute drive from Bigelow. Arrangements can be made for students without cars to get groceries and into town; taxis are also an option.

Students with disabilities and/or health conditions that require accommodations are encouraged to contact our Education Coordinator. Please email seachange@bigelow.org if you have any questions or would like to see the residence hall floor plan or a campus map.

East Boothbay is a small, rural community in Midcoast Maine. It offers plenty of outdoor activities with unparalleled vistas of the rugged Maine coast. Hiking trails are abundant and within close proximity to the laboratory. Just 10 minutes from the lab, you’ll find Boothbay Harbor, a booming summer tourist town that turns sleepy in the Fall. As the holidays approach, the Harbor reawakens with opportunities for dining, shopping, and attending local events.

Sea Change students are provided with a membership to the Boothbay Region YMCA (8 minute drive from campus) where you’ll have access to an Olympic-size swimming pool, indoor track, basketball, racquetball, squash and tennis courts, and weight and cardio exercise facilities.


students and staff in the residence galley

We understand and respect that no two experiences of a disability are the same. We will work to support you in identifying accommodations and strategies that are most appropriate for you and your time at Bigelow in the Sea Change Semester program. Bigelow acknowledges that a diversity of individuals and ideas strengthens our work, and we are committed to providing access to our programs to ensure equitable living and learning. Students with disabilities and/or health conditions that require accommodations are encouraged to contact our Education Coordinator.