Fundamentals of Scientific Diving

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.


Enrollment options

  • Online-Only Option

    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.

    • Course Fee*: $249
    • Prerequisites: None 
    • Enrollment Cap: None 
    • Content Delivery: Online. Access to the AAUS online learning platform will be provided after registration closes 
    • Enroll: July 1 - August 31, 2022
    • Online Course Access: September 1 - November 20, 2022
    • Who Should Enroll: Teachers and lifelong learners who wish to gain fundamental knowledge of scuba diving and underwater data gathering techniques. 
    • Earning your Micro-credential: assessment and earning criteria, claiming your badge and post-course survey

    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 includes:

    • 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.

    • Course Fee*: $2,200
    • Prerequisites: 
      • Successful completion of online modules
      • Successful completion of the swim test.
        • Without swim aids, students must be able to
          • Swim underwater for a distance of 25 yards (23 meters) without surfacing.
          • Swim 400 yards (366 meters) in less than 12 minutes
          • Tread water for 10 minutes, or 2 minutes without the use of hands
          • Transport a passive person of equal size a distance of 25 yards (23 meters) in the water
      • Open water scuba certification from a nationally recognized training agency or military
      • Medical Evaluation of Fitness for Scuba Diving form
      • Completed diver resume 
      • Completed liability waiver.
    • Minimum Enrollment**: 6 students
    • Content Delivery: Online (Access to the AAUS online learning platform will be provided after registration closes; in-class instruction and hands-on experiential skills development
    • Enroll: July 1 - August 31, 2022
    • Registration link:  FIU CAS (
    • Online Course Access: September 1 - November 20, 2022
    • Skills Development (Islamorada, FL):November 13-19
    • Who Should Enroll: Certified divers wishing to increase their in-water competence and obtain scientific diver certification.

    *Course fee includes access to online learning platform; CPR, First Aid and DAN Oxygen Administration fees; and up to 12 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

    **A minimum enrollment of six (6) students is required to run the experiential/field component of the class. If the minimum number of students is not reached, students may opt to enroll in the Online-Only option or be issued a tuition refund.

    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

    Weather and other factors may require schedule modifications.



    Saturday, November 12



    November 13

    CPR, ARD, First Aid, Oxygen Administration – Classroom

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


    November 14

    Underwater navigation review - Classroom

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

    Underwater navigation – Offshore (Dive 3)

    Underwater navigation – Offshore (Dive 4)


    November 15

    Underwater archaeology sampling protocols – Classroom

    Underwater archaeology sampling – Offshore (Dive 5)

    Underwater archaeology sampling – Offshore (Dive 6)


    November 16

    Reef fish identification & protocols – Classroom

    Reef fish assessments – Offshore/Aquarius (Dive 7)

    Reef fish assessments – Offshore/Aquarius (Dive 8)


    November 17

    Coral community assessment protocols – Classroom

    Assessing coral communities – Offshore (Dive 9)

    Assessing coral communities – Offshore (Dive 10)


    November 18

    Coral reef restoration protocols – Classroom

    Coral reef restoration – Offshore (Dive 11)

    Coral reef restoration – Offshore (Dive 12)


    November 19

    Weather make-up day or depart


    November 20