Our Mission

A collaboration of Williams College and the Mystic Seaport Museum, Williams-Mystic educates undergraduate students in a transformative semester-long academic investigation of the sea accompanied by original research opportunities and travel throughout the United States.

At a Glance

Our courses are experiential and emphasize original research: it’s not unusual to be on a boat, at the beach, or immersed in Mystic Seaport Museum’s historical collections for class. In our unique interdisciplinary approach, our small cohort studies the literature, history, policy, and science of the oceans and coasts of the United States.

Based in Mystic, Connecticut, students live cooperatively in houses on the grounds of the nation’s leading maritime museum. Students consider the turmoil of Captain Ahab from Melville’s Moby-Dick while sitting on the deck of the world’s last remaining wooden whaling ship and present on a historical maritime artifact while actually holding it. Nineteenth century maritime skills classes complement the academics.  Students work alongside master artisans to forge iron, climb aloft to furl sails, or skipper a sailboat.

Students travel alongside faculty and staff to experience each of America’s three coasts. These extended field seminars to the East, West, and Gulf Coasts inform classroom discussions and research projects. While sailing offshore aboard a tall ship in the Atlantic, students act as the ship’s crew while collecting and analyzing oceanographic data. On the West Coast, we discuss international trade regulations while on board tugboats in busy ports and Steinbeck’s Cannery Row while on Cannery Row in Monterey. Students witness the effects of sea-level rise while paddling through vanishing marshes in Southern Louisiana. On these field seminars, students cultivate meaningful relationships with local community members as well as with other students, faculty, and staff.

These experiences create leaders to take on the world’s most pressing issues. Take a step back and look at the big picture: experience new perspectives, horizons, and possibilities in a life-changing semester.



Fast Facts About Williams-Mystic

  • The average class size is 20 students
  • We have a 4:1 student to faculty ratio
  • There are 5 coffee shops within a 1 mile radius of our Mystic campus
  • You have a 100% chance of climbing aloft on a tall ship
  • There are 6 boats that make up our fleet of student-accessible boats
  • We were established in 1977
  • Moby-Dick, one of the required reading texts, is made up of 135 chapters
  • Our alumni network is over 1,600 and growing!
  • You’ll travel approximately 657 miles on the Pacific Coast field seminar
  • 71% of Earth’s surface is water
  • There are 0 study away programs like Williams-Mystic