Are there any (accredited/recognized) academic institutions with a significant part of their activities - administrative and academic - held over a body of water (sea, lake or river), on some floating platform?

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The kind of platform could be boat or a barge; or if that doesn't exist, then at least - buildings built directly on struts in the water without solid foundations (a-la Tolkien's Esgaroth, or Lake-town).


  • Universities which have ships and/or operate ships and/or hold some classes on ships and/or send students out on trips on ships - don't count. The univesity or institute has to operate primarily on the barge/ship/floating platform.
  • Bonus points if it's a proper university and if what they teach is not just shipping/marine-related.
  • I don't want a recommendation of such institutions, nor a list of them, I just want to know if any exist.
  • 18
    It will certainly help if you elaborate why you want to know this.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 15:02
  • 9
    -1 I really don't get the point of this question (and the objections to existing answers are lame)...
    – user541686
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 22:37
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    @CoderInNetwork From the help centre: "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face." Being curious if there are floating universities is in no sense an actual problem. Plus, boat programming. Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 9:22
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    @Bitwise: If I told you the question was not inspired by "boat programming", you wouldn't believe me (and I know this since it's already happened - see my comments above); and if I told you that it was inspired by "boat programming" you'd probably say "Ah, boat programming, so it's just a joke question, let's close it."
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 11:29
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    While I strongly agree that clarification on reasons would help this question greatly, I don't actually see it as a shopping question or having the "make a big list" failure mode, since it is asking for existence, not recommendation or enumeration.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 13:40

6 Answers 6


The Semester At Sea program is an established and respected program run by the The Institute for Shipboard Education, which I think only does this Semester at Sea program, and Colorado State University, which obviously has a lot of land based activities. The program offers a range of classes, but does not offer a degree (as far as I can tell).

  • 3
    See also Seamester. @einpoklum: Semester at Sea was formerly called "University of the Seven Seas" and later "World Campus Afloat". It's not clear what your objection is. CSU is a sponsor, and shares academic resources with it, but it's not a part of CSU. As Wikipedia says, "the program itself is run on a cruise ship." Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 22:16

The California Maritime Academy is an accredited part of the Cal State system; much of the instruction takes place on the Academy's ship, The Golden Bear.

While the curriculum has a Maritime focus, the Bachelor's degrees granted are in Engineering, Business, etc., and applicable to non sea faring pursuits.

  • 1
    +1, but they just send you out on a boat, the boat doesn't house the university, or a faculty. When you go on a boat it's like going on a field trip.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 19:08

Not sure if that counts, but there is a very well rated university in Venice, Ca' Foscari. Its main building is in the center of Venice. I do not know in specific if this applies to it as well, but in general the buildings in Venice are constructed on wooden piles planted inside a layer of mud. In addition, it is quite common for Venice to be partially submerged due to high tides ("Acqua alta").

  • 1
    No, this doesn't count; if it were to count I could also list the University of Amsterdam which has buildings in blocks surrounded by canals. Venice was built on solid foundations.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 14:40
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    @einpoklum If venice doesn't count, then why did you reference Tolkiens Esgaroth? Its the same principle. Lots of buildings in Venice do not have a solid foundation (some have, but not all), and Tolkiens used lots of things that suggest venice was a strong influence (masters of lake-town/doges of venice. If Venice shouldn't count, then you shouldN#t use Esgaroth as example, as its pretty much the same thing.
    – Polygnome
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 20:24
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    @Polygnome: No, it's not the same principle: Esgaroth is built on an actual lake and there are no foundations, just wooden struts/pylons. I agree Venice must have been an influence, but Esgaroth is "on the water" in a way Venice isn't. Even Esgaroth is not what I was really after, just a second-best thing. Sorry...
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 20:50
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    @einpoklum I do not follow your reasoning. Venice was build in a lagoon, on the water. How is that less on the water then in a lake? Wiki says "Constructed entirely of wood and standing upon wooden pillars sunk into the lake-bed [...]", which is exactly how Venica was build. So yeah...
    – Polygnome
    Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 20:58
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    @einpoklum The only difference is that they planted a lot of wooden pillars (and also consists of a few starting islands) venicewiki.org/wiki/Fondazioni_degli_edifici_veneziani . I suppose that the objection is that what's below the buildings is more "very watery mud" than water, but calling it "solid foundations" is a stretch Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 21:39

There is also the Peace Boat with it's 'Global University'.

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    That's like a week long, according to the video. They don't have a university or a research institute on the boat. I mean, it's called a "university" but that's just a name. Still, it's really interesting so +1.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 14:18

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in the fall of 2005, Tulane University housed a significant number of displaced students and faculty in a cruise ship moored on the Mississippi River. However, from what I understand classes were not held onboard and this arrangement was only in effect during the Spring Semester of the 2005-2006 school year. Tulane University press release from 2006.


University at Sea exists to give 'practicing professionals' the chance to earn continuing education credits in their field. The courses are taught aboard cruise ships.

  • Providing CEU credits is not really what a university does
    – StrongBad
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 15:30
  • The OP asked for "academic institutions", which I interpreted in the broader sense. I assumed that mention of "University" was an example, not a requirement. Perhaps the OP can clarify?
    – Kramii
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 7:52

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