Image Credit: Chris Drake

Rosario Beach to Offer Oceanfront Learning for All WWU Students

Beginning in 2025, Walla Walla University will offer a 16-credit general studies spring quarter at Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory to students from any major. The Spring Tide program will have limited seats, with applications for the first cohort available soon.

Students participating in the Spring Tide program will spend a spring quarter at Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory, which is located next to Deception Pass State Park about an hour and a half north of Seattle. Studying at the oceanfront location will allow professors to include activities such as boat rides, hikes and nature observation into their curriculum. 

“One thing we do extremely well at Rosario is hands-on learning,” said Kirt Onthank, WWU associate professor of biology and Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory director. Non-traditional class schedules will also make more outdoor learning opportunities possible.

Spring Tide will feature four carefully crafted two-week courses, each designed to utilize the unique learning environment of Rosario and to integrate with one another. “While remaining broad in subject matter, Spring Tide courses are built on a foundation of exploring how the ocean plays a crucial role in human society,” Onthank said. Class topics will include ocean and society, religion and ecology, writing and the Salish Sea, and the art of natural history.

Spring Tide is a valuable program for students pursuing any major. Each course within the Spring Tide program counts for general studies credit, making it an excellent opportunity for students to explore new disciplines, fulfill degree requirements and learn in a setting integrated with the outdoors.

In keeping with the theme of accessibility, the Spring Tide term is designed to be financially accessible, allowing students to apply their existing financial aid to the quarter at Rosario. 

Spring Tide offers a tight-knit community, time spent in a beautiful environment and a uniquely structured learning environment that has previously only been available to students taking biology courses. “Many students returning from Rosario say it was one of the most impactful experiences they had at WWU,” said Onthank. “Everyone deserves to have the chance to study at Rosario.”

Learn more about Spring Tide by visiting

Featured in: July/August 2024