This is a comprehensive two-year degree program of both theory and practical experience designed to prepare students for a career in aquatic animal husbandry.

If you are interested in starting an exciting new career in the aquatic animal husbandry profession, the Aquarium Science Program is for you. Graduates in aquarium science have had a 94% rate of finding jobs in the industry upon completion of the program. Classes begin each fall. Space is limited so apply today.

Aquarium Science Two Year AAS Degree

Role Description

Students admitted into the two year degree program will receive an Associates of Applied Science (AAS) Degree in Aquarium Science after successfully completing all necessary prerequisites and required coursework for the program. Click on the link below to view the two year degree curriculum map for the program. Applicants for the two year degree program must have received a high school diploma or GED and may have completed some college level coursework.

Learning Outcomes

1. Effectively communicate, verbally and in writing, scientific concepts, research findings and ideas to professionals and the general public.

2. Maintain, analyze, diagnose and repair aquarium life support systems and their components.

3. Perform basic water quality analysis using standard testing equipment.

4. Maintain healthy animals through proper set-up, monitoring and accepted animal husbandry practices

5. Identify physically compromised animals and abnormal animal behaviors

6. Work within a group to conceptualize, plan, construct and manage environments that promote healthy of fishes and invertebrates.

7. Apply fundamental knowledge and skills in science, mathematics, and communications for success in a professional or academic setting.

Students admitted into the two year degree program will receive an Associates of Applied Science (AAS) Degree in Aquarium Science after successfully completing all necessary prerequisites and required coursework for the program. Click on the link below to view the two year degree curriculum map for the program. Applicants for the two year degree program must have received a high school diploma or GED and may have completed some college level coursework.

Two Year Degree Program Map »

Two Year Degree Costs »

AQS Industry Partners

Chris SpauldingSpaulding

Aquarium Science Program Director Chris Spaulding received his Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology with an emphasis in Marine Biology from the University of New Hampshire in 1994. He later earned a Master’s in Business Administration with a Certificate in Project Management from Keller Graduate School of Management in 2006. Chris has been an avid aquarium enthusiast as far back as he can remember and began his career with public aquariums at Sea World Orlando, FL in 1994. Throughout his career, Chris has worked as the Lead Aquarium Biologist for Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, WA, the Curator of Fishes for Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco, CA, and as the Regional Senior Curator in the United States for Merlin Entertainment’s SEA LIFE branded aquariums. During his time with SEA LIFE, Chris opened four new public aquarium attractions in the U.S. and oversaw the husbandry operations of five SEA LIFE facilities. He started as the Director of the Aquarium Science Program at OCCC in the fall of 2012 where he also teaches Introduction to Aquarium Science (AQS 100), Life Support Design and Operation (AQS 240), Exhibits and Interpretation (AQS 252), and the Aquarium Science Internship (AQS 295). Chris has a tremendous passion for the field of aquarium science and enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience with the future generation of aquatic animal care professionals.

“The aquarium science industry is an exciting, ever-changing field of knowledge that requires a passion and commitment to learning at all times. It is a humble honor and privilege to be able to teach students with the desire to pursue such a unique career. It is also a privilege and joy to be able to learn from and with students in this endeavor.”


Alyssa SquiersAlyssa Squiers

Alyssa Squiers is from the Hill Country of Texas. Her love of Biology and Marine Science brought her to Corpus Christi, TX to earn a B.S. in Biology at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. After graduating with her Bachelor’s degree at TAMUCC, Alyssa stayed to pursue her M.S. in Marine Science, focusing on a local species of coral and the habitat it provides in the nearshore waters. While completing her Master’s degree Alyssa began working as an Aquarist at the Texas State Aquarium, working her way up to Director of Animal Care. It was there she developed a love for the aquarium industry as a whole, and teaching those interested in aquarium science.

“The Aquarium Science program at OCCC is such a unique program. I am excited to be part of it and help it grow, teaching students and encouraging their passion for the  aquarium industry and marine life. “


Dr. Tim Miller-MorganMillerMorgan

Faculty
Dr. Tim Miller-Morgan, DVM, is originally from Tacoma, WA and has been residing on the Oregon Coast in Newport for 19 years. Dr. Miller-Morgan has earned a B.S. in Biology from the University of Puget Sound and a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from Washington State University. He later achieved his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He currently works in the capacities as the Lead for the Animal Health Program, Extension Veterinarian of Aquatic Species for Oregon Sea Grant, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, at Oregon State University and Hatfield Marine Science Center. Dr. Tim has been an integral part in the development and delivery of the Aquarium Science Program since its beginning in 2003 and currently teaches Fish and Invertebrate Health Management (AQS 270) and Animal Husbandry in a Research Capacity (AQS 245) for the program.

“The AQS program is truly a one-of-a-kind program. We are in a very beautiful location (Newport) with a tremendous amount of resources to provide students with a very unique learning experience. Through our staff and local partner institutions we have developed a wonderful learning community that fully supports our students as they walk the path to become aquatic husbandry professionals. For me it is a privilege to be a part of this great community of students and educators.”


Kevin CliffordKevin Clifford

Faculty
Kevin teaches Introduction to Aquarium Science (AQS 100) and the Aquarium Science Practicum Courses (AQS 110 and 111. In addition to teaching, he is the Special Projects Coordinator at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. A native of Massachusetts, Kevin attended UMASS Dartmouth where he received his Bachelor of Science degree.  Prior to Oregon Coast Aquarium and OCCC, Kevin has worked Disney World and the New England Aquarium. Kevin has also been involved with the Aquarium Science Program as a student practicum and intern mentor since its early stages of development.

“Having been involved in the OCCC Aquarium Science Program since its planning stages. I have seen this program grow and evolve successfully in preparing students as professionals for our industry.  As an aquarium science faculty member, I am pleased to be part of the role in shaping the education of future aquarists.”


Matt HawkyardMatt Hawkyard

Faculty
Matt received his Bachelor degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from OSU during which time he also worked for the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office and the Environmental Protection Agency Western Ecology lab. Matt conducted his Master’s research at the National Institute for Nutrition and Seafood Research in Bergen, Norway as a U.S.-Norway Fulbright scholar. He is currently in a PhD program at Oregon State University. Matt’s research is focused on larval fish nutrition, with an emphasis on the delivery and requirements for water-soluble nutrients. Matt teaches Reproduction and Nutrition of Aquatic Animals (AQS 232). Matt’s goal in the program is to change the paradigm concerning how we think about feeding and nutrition in public aquaria.

“I hope to inspire up-and-coming aquarists to pursue captive rearing of aquatic animals rather than rely on wild-capture for stocking marine exhibits.”


Sage ButtsSage Butts

AQS Facility Personnel
Sage is originally from the deserts of New Mexico where the only option for a salt water fix and a dive with sharks was at the Albuquerque Aquarium. After begging for a job from age 14, the aquarium hired Sage right out of high school to be a full time aquarist while she worked toward her biology degree from UNM.  The job at the Albuquerque Aquarium fueled her passion for being a professional aquarist.  She moved to Newport, OR in 2008 to complete the One Year Certificate in Aquarium Science at OCCC.  With Certificate in hand Sage moved to Southern California where she lived and worked for Sea Life Aquarium in Carlsbad for almost four years.

Sage is glad to be back in Oregon, as of July 2013, working as a Senior Aquarist at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.  She is equally excited to also be working back at the school that gave her all of the tools she needed to be successful in this industry.  Sage now works in the Aquarium Science Facility monitoring water quality, managing aquarium system care and maintenance, assisting students with assignments and attending to other duties as assigned.  She can always be asked for instruction, help and advice.

“It has been really exciting to watch the AQS Program evolve into what it is today. This program helps future aquarists prepare for the ever growing and changing aquarium industry. It is truly a one of a kind experience. If working with fish in a captive environment is your passion, there is no better place for you.”


Clare Hansenclareaqs

AQS Facility Personnel (Aquarist)

Clare graduated from Boston University in 2007 with a B.A. in Biology with a specialization in Marine Science. Following graduation, Clare worked as a fisheries observer aboard commercial vessels in Alaska and then Oregon. Over 700 sea days later, she decided to pursue her long-time interest in aquariums and enrolled in the Aquarium Science Program, completing a One Year Certificate in 2015. Following graduation she interned and, later, worked as an aquarist at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Through experiences in the AQS Program and at OCA, Clare discovered a passion for exhibit design and interpretive planning and is currently working as a freelance contractor for exhibit and aquarium design and construction projects.

“As a graduate of the Aquarium Science Program, I know firsthand how valuable the experiences gained here can be; how many doors they can open. I am so excited to now be able to support and encourage students to take advantage of all the amazing opportunities the AQS Program presents.”


Mark MurrayMark Murry

AQS Facility Personnel (Aquarist)

Mark grew up in Southern California and received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Humboldt State University.  While going to school he found his passion of caring for marine organisms in an aquarium environment while working at the Humboldt State University Marine Laboratory as a Laboratory Technician and Marine Naturalist.  Following this passion he moved out to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to work as a Husbandry Technician at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island.  While in North Carolina he had an unparalleled opportunity to train American Alligators, and he has applied this into other aspects of being an Aquarist.

Mark moved to the Oregon coast in 2015 from North Carolina to work as an Aquarist at the Oregon Coast Aquarium taking care of the Open Sea exhibit in Passages of the Deep.  He now also works in the Aquarium Science Facility helping to manage the aquarium systems care and maintenance.

“I am very excited to help develop future aquarium professionals in any way I can.  Taking the information so many mentors passed on to me, I am glad to now pass that same information to others.  I am also excited to inspire students to enjoy the thrills of training unconventional animals.”