Applied Shellfish Farming Course

Course Schedule:

Tuesdays – 6:30 to 9:30 PM @ RWU Bristol Campus, Rhode Island

Week Topic (revised for Sp24)
1Introductions/Shellfish Aquaculture Overview
2Shellfish Biology*
3Growout Systems I – Oysters*
4Growout Systems II – Quahogs & Other clams
5Growout Systems III – Scallops, Mussels, Kelp
6Shellfish Nursery Systems (Upwellers and various technologies)
7Shellfish Hatchery Techniques
8Risks to Growing Shellfish (Predators & Pests)*
9Site Selection, Permitting & Regulations*
10Shellfish Business Management I (Vibrio training* & Marketing)
11Shellfish Business Management II (Biosecurity & BMPs)
12Risks to Growing Shellfish (Diseases)*
Final take-home exam
*Required for Dockside Program (The RI Recreational Permit)

If you have any other questions, drop us a note at and we will try to answer them as they come in.


For over 20 years, Professor Dale Leavitt had been providing prospective shellfish farmers in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and elsewhere in the region an in-depth education on starting a shellfish farm operation. The course began in MA when Dr. Leavitt was at Woods Hole Sea Grant, teaching at the MA Maritime Academy. As the oyster industry began to grow in Rhode Island in 2003, Leavitt began teaching the course at RWU where he now is a Professor Emeritus . Now, the only course of its kind in the region, many are signing up to learn from a seasoned expert in an interactive, informative, casual setting. Over the years, Leavitt has reached hundreds of individuals, many going on to start successful farming operations in the region.

“Roger Williams professor a guru for aspiring shellfish farmers” Providence Journal, March 2015

The course, formally offered through The Roger Williams University Center for Economic and Environmental Development begins enrolling students for the course in December every year. The non-credit course offered during the winter/spring semester teaches both aspiring shellfish farmers and aquaculture professionals the ins and outs of commercially growing oysters, quahogs, and other shellfish species. The 15-week program is led by Leavitt but often guest speakers, from state agencies to growers, assist in lending real-world advice to students. The course is designed to aid new and experienced shellfish farmers to start or grow their shellfish farming enterprise in Rhode Island and other areas of Southern New England.

Topics in the course include: an overview of shellfish farming, shellfish biology, farm site selection, the permitting process and regulatory aspects of securing and maintaining a lease, an overview of shellfish nursery and grow-out systems, risk management strategies, other technical aspects of shellfish farming, and business and marketing management advice. Professor Leavitt complements the class with mentoring and site visits, remains in contact with many participants, and advises shellfish farmers internationally.

While the Applied Shellfish Farming Course is not a requirement by the state to grow shellfish, CRMC considers the course an important learning opportunity for prospective shellfish farmers. Aspects of the course are also required for individuals wishing to apply for a Recreational Aquaculture Permit in Rhode Island (Those classes marked with an asterisk on the course syllabus) – For more information about the Recreational Aquaculture Permit, contact Benjamin Goetsch at

  • The in-person Applied Shellfish Farming course is held at the Roger Williams University Bristol campus on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. A remote platform will also be available for those who cannot attend in-person.
  • Contact us for the updated course pricing. Following payment of fee, you will be registered.
  • Registration interest and questions can be sent to and sign-up will be conducted via a posted survey when registration opens up.