The Ocean Studies Institute (OSI) AAUS Scientific Diving Certification Program

The Ocean Studies Institute (OSI) Scientific Diving Certification Program conforms to the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) Standards for Scientific Diving for academic, research, or conservation diving. Anyone who is engaged in diving as part of their work must be an active member of a scientific diving program or be subject to US Federal OSHA standards for diving.

The OSI AAUS Program is an intensive 14-day course focused on teaching research diving techniques. During the course divers will learn about diving theory, physics, physiology, dive planning and emergency accident management. In-water training will include numerous dives to practice essential data-gathering methodologies, and further develop general diving skills such as beach, navigation, deep, night, and rescue. The course also includes the DAN Diving First Aid for Professional Divers certification training, suitable for First Responders working in remote locations.

The course is open to CSU/OSI students/staff/faculty and SCMI consortium members. Unaffiliated candidates, actively engaged in scientific diving (as a student, researcher or volunteer) with an AAUS Organizational Member, are accepted on a space-available basis. Unlike traditional (recreational) certifications, if you’re not actively involved in scientific diving, you will not be able to maintain your AAUS Scientific Diver certification.

Course Dates and Fees

Winter 2020 Scientific Diving Course Session: January 6th - January 18th, 2020

  • Application Deadline for Winter AAUS Course: December 6th, 2019

Summer 2020 Scientific Diving Course Session 1: June 1st - June 13th, 2020

  • Application Deadline for Summer AAUS Course Session 1: May 29th, 2020

Summer 2020 Scientific Diving Course Session 2: July 27th - August 8th, 2020

  • Application Deadline for Summer AAUS Course Session 2: June 26th, 2020


OSI Members: $500

SCMI Members: $600

Non-Members: $1,200

Please Note: This course is limited to 12 participants - applicants will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Locations and Schedule

The first week of the course is conducted on the mainland. Swim tests and confined water training is conducted at the California State University Long Beach (CSULB) pool, and classroom lectures are conducted at the Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI). Mainland days start at 8:00am and end at 5:00pm, with daily homework assignments. The second week of the course, consisting of open water dive training and completion of classroom lectures, is conducted on Catalina Island at the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center. Island days start at 8:00am and continue into the evening with late afternoon and night dives and classroom lectures.

Sample Schedule:

Below is a typical day-by-day schedule for the program. Dates and locations for practical skills training may vary based on weather and conditions.


Monday, SCMI – Orientation, AAUS history/standards, OSI policies/procedures lectures
Tuesday, CSULB Pool, SCMI – Swim tests, Checkout dive; Classroom lectures
Wednesday, CSULB Pool, SCMI – Buoyancy, Task management dives; Classroom lectures
Thursday, CSULB Pool, SCMI – Rescue skills/dives, classroom lectures
Friday, CSULB Pool, SCMI – SMB, Lift bag, Transects dives; DAN Diving First Aid for Professional Divers
Saturday, Cabrillo, SCMI – Beach Skin dive, Rescue skills 1; DAN Diving First Aid for Professional Divers
Sunday, Off

Catalina Island

Monday, SCMI, transit to USC Wrigley Marine Science Center – Facility orientation; Checkout, Rescue 2, Night dives
Tuesday, WMSC – Deep, Blue-water, Navigation 1 & 2 dives; Evening lecture
Wednesday, WMSC – Search and Recovery, Light salvage, Data collecting (transects, fish survey) dives; Evening lecture
Thursday, WMSC – Deep/simulated decompression, Air consumption (SAC rates) dives; Evening lecture
Friday, WMSC – Environmental survey (s); transit to SCMI
Saturday, SCMI – Final exam


All students enrolling in the OSI AAUS Scientific Diving course must have the following:

  1. Completed application submitted to the Dive Office by the posted due date. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.
  2. Certification as an Open Water scuba diver, issued by a nationally recognized certification agency (NAUI, PADI, YMCA, SSI, etc.) with an additional 12 logged dives (total of 16 logged dives).
  3. A minimum of 4 logged dives within the past year, 2 of which are within the last six months.
  4. Proof of regulator, BC, gauge and computer testing/service within the last 12 months this includes new equipment  (form included in application Package). A visual inspection of all dive equipment will be conducted on the first day. Equipment deemed “unsafe” or NOT in good working order, will not be allowed for use in the course.
  5. Current Medical Examination for Scuba Diving; must be within one year (form included in application Package).
  6. Proof of Dive Insurance – you are responsible for your medical coverage and most health insurance policies do not cover scuba diving. We require that you obtain dive insurance such as that provided by Divers Alert Network (DAN) A list of providers can be found at
  7. First Aid, O2 Administration, and Field Neurological training will be offered as part of the course. It is highly recommended that you participate in this section of the course, however if you can provide proof of current emergency response training per AAUS standards you may elect to waive this section.

Swim Test Requirements

There will be a swim test at the beginning of this course. It is highly recommended that you practice before attempting this test. The failure rate for those who do not is approximately 50%. This test will include:

  1. 400 meter swim, within 12 minutes
  2. Tread water continuously for 10 minutes, or 2 minutes without the use of hands.
  3.  Underwater swim for a distance of 25 meters, without surfacing
  4. Surface dive to 10’ to recover a swimmer on the bottom, and transport on the surface 25 meters.

Please Note: Anyone who does not successfully complete all components of the swim test will not be permitted to participate in Scientific Diving beyond the Diver in Training level.

OSI Dive Safety Officer

DM Website Photo

Darrell Montague, Dive and Boat Safety Officer for the Ocean Studies Institute, has been working in the dive industry for 17 years as a Divemaster and Instructor. Prior to his current position, he was Dive Safety Officer for the California Science Center Foundation, overseeing exhibit, youth education, and open water diving, as well as boat operations. He has also trained divers for the California Institute of Technology, and acted as Dive Safety Officer and expedition medic on remote dive operations for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, National Geographic, and several film and television productions.

OSI Assistant Dive Safety Officer

Jim Cvitanovich, the ADSO for the Ocean Studies Institute, has been free and scuba diving along the So. Cal. Coast since 1963. Starting out at 12 with mask, snorkel, fins and sweatshirt along the Palos Verdes coast near home in San Pedro, getting scuba certified in 1971, and becoming a PADI instructor in 1981. Jim has worked as a commercial diver in the area doing light salvage, survey, and repair, and as second captain and crew on a number of commercial dive boats in San Pedro. Acting as the assistant DSO since 1981, Jim took over the position as DSO in 1999 until his retirement in 2015. He continues to support the program as the part-time ADSO.

Questions should be directed to Darrell Montague, OSI Dive and Boat Safety Officer
820 South Seaside Avenue, Terminal Island, CA 90731
Cell: (626) 399-3308; SCMI: (310) 519-3172 x 976