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One Semester Maritime Courses with Credit Transfer, Field Seminars, Graduate Courses in Maritime History & Maritime Skills Programs at Mystic, CT

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Established in 1793, Williams-College is private, residential, and liberal arts, with graduate programs in the history of art and in development economics. The undergraduate enrollment is approximately 2,000 students. The college is located at Mystic, Connecticut.

The Williams-Mystic Maritime Studies program educates undergraduates by investigating the connections between individuals and the sea through an innovative interdisciplinary curriculum accompanied by original research opportunities. This is a one semester program and around 20 students will be part of a Williams-Mystic semester. The students come from about 14 colleges and represent 15 different majors. You receive a full semester's credit documented on a Williams College transcript. Williams College awards credit for the equivalent of four courses and one winter study.

The curriculum is based on an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary hands-on course of study focused on the world's oceans and coastlines. Together, students of all majors study the history, literature, policy and science of the sea. The classrooms include Mystic Seaport's G.W. Blunt White Library, home to one of the world's most extensive collections of maritime volumes, periodicals and documents; and a large number of field sites around the region.

The Munson Institute, operating at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut since 1955, promotes learning, research and the sharing of knowledge through annual summer-time graduate courses.  Educating more than six hundred students over the last fifty years, the Munson Institute is open to anyone interested in studying the sea, including teachers, graduate students, advanced undergraduates, and auditors. The Munson Institute is accredited through the University of Connecticut, Wesleyan University, and Trinity College.

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williams mystics maritime programs

Maritime Programs



Maritime Courses

  • Literature of the Sea: Literature of the Sea takes advantage of our maritime museum, coastal setting, and three field seminars to read and study canonical and lesser-known American novelists and poets who set their works in the exact places where the class travels.
  • Maritime History: The maritime history course is designed to deepen students’ historical understanding by gaining a more immediate and experiential sense of the past.
  • Marine Policy: Marine policy class introduce you to current issues in marine law and policy and will prompt you to formulate opinions regarding marine mammal protection, oil spill management, ocean and coastal pollution, coastal zone management, fisheries conservation, private and public shoreline rights, coastal storm and hazard mitigation, and other modern coastal and ocean issues.
  • Oceanographic Processes: This course examines coastal and open ocean environmental science issues.

Field Seminars

  • Offshore Voyage: For 10 days at the start of each semester, Williams-Mystic students, faculty, and staff sail aboard a traditionally rigged tall ship. The Offshore Field Seminar enhances the curriculum on land by exposing students to the experience of being at sea.
  • Pacific Northwest: To examine the complexity of West Coast fisheries management issues, they visit Fishermen’s Terminal, home of America’s largest fishing fleet. Then travel to the Port of Tacoma to see one of the most efficient container ship ports in the country.
  • Northern California: Fly to San Francisco and first travel south to Monterey Bay, the site of the nation’s largest marine sanctuary, where we observe giant kelp forests and sea otters and visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
  • Southern Louisiana: With its rich literary tradition, biology, geology, and history - and its pressing policy challenges - the Gulf Coast is perhaps the most eye-opening destination each semester. Visit the area during the field seminar, and you quickly learn just how intertwined these issues are with Louisiana’s culture and history.

Maritime Skills

  • Shipsmithing: The shipsmithing class provides an opportunity for students to focus on a craft found in every nineteenth-century seaport. You’ll work with master craftspeople in the coal-fired forge in the Seaport’s historic Driggs Shipsmith shop, where you’ll create hooks, nails and a selection of objects used in the past and present.
  • Canvas Work: You’ll work in Charles Mallory’s sail loft while learning the many skills and techniques utilized in sailmaking, along with just a touch of sailing theory.
  • Chantey Singing: Students in this class develop a repertoire of sailors’ songs - work songs, forecastle songs, ballads, and more.
  • Boat Handling / Boat Building: The boat handling class allows students with little or no sailing experience to become comfortable on the water and develop some advanced skills.
  • Demonstration Squad: You will learn how to climb, set and furl sails, and do rigging work aloft.

Credit Transfer

  • Students who attend Williams-Mystic receive an official transcript from Williams College, which awards them 18 credit hours (for Williams College students, the equivalent of four courses and one winter study).

Summer Programs

  • Undergraduate Research Opportunities: The summer research students come from colleges and universities around the world and can be found working in labs or academic buildings and traveling with professors for field research.
  • Graduate Studies - Munson Institute: Students of the Munson Institute attend a variety of local field seminars, including: Mystic and Stonington, CT; New London and Groton, CT; Newport, RI; and Cruises - A summer evening cruise down river to the edge of Long Island Sound helps Munson participants understand the setting which so influenced local maritime development, as well as the inner workings of a 19th-century steam plant.

LAST UPDATED ON July 18, 2018