Membership in UNOLS is open to those institutions that use, or operate and use, sea-going facilities and maintain an academic program in marine science. It is intended that UNOLS institutions make substantial contributions to the national oceanographic program. Both individual institutions and consortia of such institutions may be members of UNOLS for purposes of attending UNOLS meetings, receiving UNOLS information, and other non-voting UNOLS activities.
All applications are reviewed by the UNOLS Council at one of their semi-annual meetings. Applications approved by the Council are then voted on by the full UNOLS membership prior to the UNOLS Annual Meeting held each fall.