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.

The application cycle for the next cohort is now open. Apply by March 1, 2024. Applicants will be notified of decisions by early April 2024. 

2024 Program Dates: July 12-August 9, 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

This month-long program, sponsored by the USC Wrigley Institute for Environment and Sustainability, is dedicated to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in marine science. The program takes place at the Wrigley Marine Science Center on Catalina Island and provides the opportunity for participants to earn their AAUS Scientific Diving authorization.

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 authorization upon graduation. Ongoing mentoring and professional development are also part of the program.

Eligibility and How to Apply


The Scientific Diving Discovery Program is open to Southern California-based STEM undergraduates from underrepresented or historically marginalized backgrounds. Students must be proficient swimmers, but prior diving experience is not required. As of June 1, 2024, participants must also:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Be a continuing student in an undergraduate program at a Southern CA institution
  • Pass a diving physical by a physician
  • Obtain certification in open-water scuba diving*
  • Have dive accident insurance*

*Costs covered by program

How to Apply

The 2024 program will take place July 12-August 9, 2024. We are now accepting applications for our 2024 cohort. If you have specific questions about the program, please contact Marcela Riddick (

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