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Scientific diving programs allow research diving teams to operate under an exemption from OSHA commercial diving regulations. To become a certified scientific diver, persons must meet training standards higher than for entry level recreational diving and demonstrate acceptable levels of competence. The American Academy of Underwater Sciences provides the Standard for training scientific divers. As an Organizational member of AAUS, FIU regularly trains scientific divers to use diving equipment and techniques to conduct their research. FIU-trained scientific divers can conduct scientific dives as part of university activities and in association with other AAUS member institutions through a reciprocity agreement.

Note: Currently enrolled FIU students wishing to take this course for credit need to sign up here.

There are two enrollment options.


Online-Only Option

Students enrolling in the Online-Only Option will be expected to review a series of online modules, pass associated quizzes with a score of 80 or higher and submit a final refection paper. The following topics will be covered:

  • Fundamental physics and physiology of diving, including the causes of diving related disorders and illnesses and their effects and management.
  • Specific problems associated with diving, including calculations of breathing gas requirements and the correct use of decompression tables.
  • Correct selection, safe use and user maintenance of appropriate open circuit scuba diving equipment, including personal dive computers.
  • Basic diving skills and standard scuba diving procedures.
  • The principles of dive planning.
  • The diving regulations, codes of practice, and responsibilities relevant to working as a member of a scientific diving team.
  • Scientific method and data gathering techniques.

Students who pass the Online-Only Option (see assessment and earning criteria) will receive an FIU micro-credential but will not receive FIU scientific diving certification since practical skills development is a requirement.  Students can also receive 2.0 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for an additional fee.

Course fee includes access to online learning platform.

Online+Experiential Option

Certified open water scuba divers wishing to become eligible for FIU scientific diver certification will be required to enroll in the Online+Experiential Option. This includes completing and passing all the requirements listed in Online-Only Option, passing a cumulative written exam with a score of 80 or higher, and exhibiting competence in relevant diving skills. Skills development will take place at the Aquarius Reef Base facility in Islamorada, Florida and at offshore dive sites over a six-day period. Practical skills development will include:

  • Swim test, scuba diving evaluation and check out dive
  • Training in CPR, First Aid and DAN Oxygen Administration
  • Diver rescue and bottom recovery
  • Accident management
  • Nitrox diving
  • Saturation diving orientation
  • Underwater navigation, identifying/marking research sites
  • Designing an underwater sampling plan
  • Scientific monitoring equipment
  • Underwater archaeology sampling
  • Assessing coral reef structure
  • Fish identification and community assessment 

Students who pass the Online+Experiential Option (see assessment and earning criteria) will receive FIU scientific diving certification, an Aquarius Advanced Training: Scientific Diving certificate from FIU’s Medina Aquarius Program and an FIU micro-credential. Students can also receive 8.0 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for an additional fee.

  • Course Fee*: $2,200 +$50 if CEUs are desired (includes both options)
  • Prerequisites: Successful completion of online modules (Part I), open water scuba certification from a nationally recognized training agency or military, Medical Evaluation of Fitness for Scuba Diving form, completed diver resume and completed liability waiver.
  • Enrollment Cap: 6 students (additional sections may be scheduled with sufficient demand).
  • Content Delivery: Online (Access to the AAUS online learning platform will be provided after registration); in-class instruction and hands-on experiential skills development
  • Online Course Access: September 20 – November 26, 2021
  • Skills Development (Islamorada, FL): December 5-11
  • Who Should Enroll: Certified divers wishing to increase their in-water competence and obtain scientific diver certification.
  • Enroll: September 1 – October 15, 2021
  • Scientific Diving Certification:assessment and earning criteria

* Course fee includes access to online learning platform; CPR, First Aid and DAN Oxygen Administration fees; and up to 12 offshore dives including use of regulator and buoyancy compensation device if needed. Travel, lodging, meals, incidentals and optional individual DAN and AAUS membership fees are not included

Please send the above forms plus a copy of the student’s open water certification card to prior to completing registration and making payment. Note: The medical examination does not have to be completed prior to registration but is required before in-water training can begin.

Tentative Skills Development Schedule: Islamorada, FL



Saturday, 04 December


Sunday, 05 December

CPR, ARD, First Aid, Oxygen Administration – Classroom

Swim test, check out dive – Pool (Dive 1)

Monday, 06 December

Open water check-out dive – Offshore (Dive 2)

Underwater navigation – Offshore (Dive 3)

Underwater archaeology sampling - Classroom

Tuesday, 07 December

Underwater archaeology sampling – Offshore (Dive 4)

Underwater archaeology sampling – Offshore (Dive 5)

Assessing coral communities - Classroom

Wednesday, 08 December

Assessing coral communities – Offshore (Dive 6)

Assessing coral communities – Offshore (Dive 7)

Coral reef restoration - Classroom

Thursday, 09 December

Coral reef restoration – Offshore (Dive 8)

Coral reef restoration – Offshore (Dive 9)

Reef fish identification - Classroom

Friday, 10 December

Reef fish assessments – Offshore/Aquarius (Dive 10)

Reef fish assessments – Offshore/Aquarius (Dive 11)

Saturday, 11 December

Review/TBD – Offshore (Dive 12)

Sunday, 12 December