Scientific Diving Discovery Program

Discover Your Future

We need all hands on deck to help solve the many and growing challenges faced by our oceans. But not everyone has the resources or access needed to obtain training in marine science. Our Scientific Diving Discovery Program provides training, mentoring, and professional development for students facing significant barriers to their dreams of becoming advocates for the underwater world.

Applications for the next cohort will open in February 2024. 

two divers stand together outdoors, with one holding an underwater slate and making a "hang ten" hand sign
a diver makes heart shape with their hands as they float with their head above the water a man holds a large whiteboard with freediving instructions on it as he teaches a freediving course in the field

About the Program

The Scientific Diving Discovery Program (SDDP) is a fully-funded, 4-week intensive designed to help diversify the field of marine science. Held at the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island, the program immerses students in a pristine natural environment as they study and practice the fundamentals of scientific diving.

Students receive pre-program funding to underwrite open-water scuba certification, dive insurance, and the purchase of equipment to keep. While at WMSC, they learn from the Wrigley Institute’s highly experienced team of diving instructors and mentors and gain hands-on experience with species identification, transects, first aid, dive rescues, hyperbaric medicine, and more. Students who successfully complete the program will earn their American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) diving certification upon graduation. Ongoing mentoring and professional development are also part of the program.

Eligibility and How to Apply


The SDDP is open to Southern California-based STEM undergraduates from backgrounds that are historically underrepresented in marine science. Students must be proficient swimmers, but prior diving experience is not required. Prior to the first day of the course, students must:

  • Be an enrolled undergraduate student at a Southern California community college or 4-year college or university
  • Be 18 years old
  • Pass a diving physical by a physician
  • Obtain certification in open-water scuba diving*
  • Obtain Divers Alert Network insurance*

*These requirements will be funded by the program.

How to Apply

The 2024 program will take place July 12-August 9, 2024. Applications will open in February 2024. Please check back at that time to apply. In the meantime, if you have specific questions about the program, please email us at

Thank you to the NOAA Ocean Exploration’s National Marine Sanctuary Foundation for funding the 2022 and 2023 SDDP.