Scientific Diving

Our Oceans Need You

What do marine biology, oceanography, and environmental journalism have in common? All three–and many other fields connected with the environment and sustainability–involve underwater research. And for underwater research, you need scientific diving.

Good news: we can help with that. Based at the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island, USC’s Scientific Diving program is among the best in the nation. Our team of educators, waterfront staff, and medics provide all the support you need to become a world-class underwater researcher!

Note: These courses are also open to the public, but preference will be given to USC students and researchers.

Wrigley Institute senior scientist Diane Kim with student interns before a dive
Wrigley Institute Senior Scientist Diane Kim and postdoc Andy Naverrete log algae growth while diving in a giant kelp forest 2019 Wrigley Institute Graduate Research Fellow Kathryn Scafidi collects research samples while diving along a reef in the waters off Catalina Island

Earn Your AAUS Certification

An American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) certification is a prerequisite for advanced research in marine biology, oceanography, and many other ocean-related fields. Our course consists of mainland-based classes and a full week of diving in the pristine waters of Big Fisherman Cove, Catalina Island. A highly experienced team of diving instructors, led by USC’s full-time Diving Safety Officer, teaches the course. Students also get support and instruction from the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber, an emergency dive medicine facility located at WMSC. Course content includes marine species identification, transect use, underwater mapping and navigation, first aid, rescues, and more.

Before applying for this course, you must earn an open-water SCUBA certification. You’ll also need to pass an AAUS diving physical. To apply, submit your completed physical and the program application to the USC Diving Safety Officer at

More About Scientific Diving @ the Wrigley Institute

Looking for information about conducting underwater research at the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island? Visit our Research Diving @ WMSC page.