Semester in Environmental Science

Undergraduate Program at the Marine Biological Laboratory

During Autumn Quarter, MBL and UChicago partner to offer students a 15-week experience rooted in environmental research, policy, and management through the Semester in Environmental Science (SES) program. SES provides rigorous laboratory and field-based research opportunities. Students investigate the effects of global change on ecosystems, with particular emphasis on how humans alter nutrient cycling and productivity.

The SES program includes two core courses, one elective, participation in a science-journalism seminar, and a requirement to complete independent research.

After spending a semester in Woods Hole, MA, the students in the program all gather to present the results of their research to MBL faculty and their fellow students from colleges across the nation in a culminating symposium.

Program Details

    UChicago students remain registered full-time in the College during their participation in the SES program. 

    Registration for the following three courses is required of all University of Chicago students in the SES program:

    Students choose one of the following three elective courses to complete their SES program registration:

    Course titles, units of credit and grades will appear on your College transcript. You are expected to hand in assignments as they come due, abide by course deadlines and submit all work by the end of the program.

    The semester begins the first week of September, typically about four (4) weeks prior to the start of the College’s Autumn quarter and runs for a full semester (15 weeks), ending several weeks prior to the start of the winter quarter at the College. For more information about the program please visit

    • For Biology majors, all four of the courses can be counted as upper level electives toward the Biology major.
    • For Environmental Sciences majors,  an explanation of how the SES courses count towards the degree is provided in the College Catalog.

    Students in the SES program are drawn from colleges across the nation, and admission to the program is by application. Students applying should have completed the basic prerequisites of college biology, general chemistry and mathematics; either calculus or statistics.

    Applications can be found at the SES program website and must include an official transcript, and a signature from your College advisor. Two letters of recommendation from faculty members or mentors who can comment on your preparedness and motivation to participate in this program must be submitted to SES (either by mail or email

    Application Deadline:  Rolling

    Admissions decisions will be mailed Spring 2024

    • For further clarification call 508-289-7777.

    Once accepted into the SES program you will be required to complete:

    • Enrollment Confirmation Form
    • Housing Registration Application and Visitor Agreement
    • Computer and Elective Choice Questionnaires
    • Travel Waiver Form

    College participants in the SES program will pay regular UChicago tuition, plus a $11,065 program fee, equivalent to a study abroad fee, that covers the cost of accommodations and meal plans as well as a $900 book, lab and program excursion fee. Students are responsible for covering their own airfare and related travel expenses which are not underwritten by the Office of Financial aid. Students currently living in College housing may opt out of University housing for the semester they are away, and are not billed for that semester. Once accepted, students will be paired in dormitory-style housing with oversight provided by a residential teaching assistant.

    Participants remain fully registered in the College and retain they financial aid eligibility while at the MBL. Program fees are taken into consideration in determining the financial aid package for the semester and, since students cannot be expected to work part-time while away from campus, the self-help component of the financial aid package does not include a term-time employment factor. All charges are billed by and paid to the University of Chicago.

    The SES Program Director, the residential teaching assistant and the MBL Department of Education are responsible for day-to-day operations of the program and general student welfare.

    Semester in Environmental Science
    Marine Biological Laboratory
    7 MBL Street
    Woods Hole, MA 02543

    Program Director
    Dr. Mirta Teichberg