About Us

Our Mission

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

Williams-Mystic at a Glance

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

Based in Mystic, Connecticut, students live cooperatively in houses on the riverside grounds of the nation’s leading maritime museum. While taking nineteenth-century maritime skills classes, students have the opportunity to work alongside master artisans to forge iron, climb aloft to furl sails or skipper a sailboat.

Throughout the semester, students travel alongside faculty and staff to experience America’s three coasts, building relationships with community members and each other at each stop. These extended field seminars inform classroom discussions and research projects. Each is profoundly interdisciplinary and involves various hands-on experiences that expand our students' worldviews. For example, 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 onboard tugboats in busy ports and Steinbeck’s Cannery Row while on Cannery Row in Monterey. Students witness the effects of sea-level rise on communities while paddling through vanishing marshes in southern Louisiana.

These experiences create leaders that can 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.


  • Established in 1977
  • 3 field seminars: Offshore, West Coast and Gulf Coast
  • 4 interdisciplinary courses: Literature, History, Science and Policy
  • 4:1 student to faculty ratio
  • 100% of students conduct original research
  • Up to 22 students per semester
  • Students from all majors and home colleges welcome
  • 1,850 alums and growing
  • Two million+ artifacts at Mystic Seaport Museum