Graduate School of Oceanography

URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography is one of the world’s premier academic institutions of oceanography and ocean exploration. GSO’s research, education, and outreach activities advance our knowledge of the world’s ocean.

Coastal Systems

The Coastal Systems track provides students with critical understanding of natural and anthropogenic processes in the coastal zone, and socio-economic characteristics of coastal communities. This program is intended for those who wish to find employment or further develop their careers in maritime companies (e.g., consulting, construction, shipping, resource and energy development), port management, the uniformed marine services (Navy, Coast Guard, and NOAA Corps), government agencies, and environmental organizations.

Students select areas on which to focus, such as mapping and marine spatial planning, oil spill impacts and remediation, coastal eutrophication, the impact of and planning for sea level rise, coastal ocean energy development and port management.

Core Requirements include (Course Catalog):

  • 30 credits
  • Successful completion of a written Master’s examination.
  • Maintenance of a 3.0 GPA.
  • Required Classes (9 credits)
    • OCG 591 Independent Study, w/GSO faculty, resulting in a major paper which may include an internship (6 credits);
    • OCG 695 Seminar in Oceanography – one credit per semester, maximum of three (3 credits);
  • Elective Classes (21 credits). Students must take at least two classes from following group:
    • OCG 521 Chemical Oceanography (3 credits)
    • OCG 540 Geological Oceanography (4 credits)
    • OCG 501 Physical Oceanography or OCG 517 Foundations of Earth System Dynamics (3 credits)
    • OCG 561 Biological Oceanography (4 credits)

Students must take at least four classes from one or more of the following five groups

Group 1 – Physical Science

  • OCE 522 Dynamics of Waves and Structures (3 credits)
  • OCG 512 Ocean Waves and Storm Surge Modeling (3 credits)
  • OCG 514 Engineering Wave Mechanics and Nearshore Processes (3 credits)
  • OCG 517 Foundations Of Earth System Dynamics (3 credits)
  • OCG 614 Tides (3 credits)
  • OCG 513 Ocean Renewable Energy (3 credits)

Group 2 – Environmental            

  • NRS 501 Foundations of Restoration Ecology (3 credits)
  • BIO 585 Salt Marsh Ecology (3 credits)
  • NRS 555 Applied Coastal Ecology (3 credits)
  • NRS 432 Wetland Ecology (3 credits)
  • OCG 519 Marine Environmental Organic Chemistry (3 credits)
  • OCG 580 Introduction To Marine Pollution (3 credits)
  • OCG 535 Climate, Radiation, Gases and Aerosols (3 credits) 

Group 3 – Geological/geotechnical

  • GEO 577 Coastal Geologic Hazards (3 credits)
  • GEO 515 Glacial Geology (3 credits)
  • GEO 511 Quaternary Paleoclimates (3 credits)
  • OCE 582 Marine Geotechnics (3 credits)
  • OCE 583 Deep Foundations (3 credits)
  • OCE 581 Experimental Geomechanics (3 credits)

Group 4 – Policy

  • MAF 461 Coastal Zone Management (3 credits)
  • MAF 521 Coastal Zone Law (3 credits)
  • MAF 564 Port Planning and Policy (3 credits)
  • MAF 515 Marine Pollution Policy (3 credits)

Group 5 – Tools and methods

  • NRS 516 Remote Sensing in Natural Resources Mapping (3 credits)
  • NRS 509 Concepts of GIS and Remote Sensing in Environmental Science (3 credits)
  • OCG 506 Numerical Models and Data Analysis in Ocean Sciences (3 credits)
  • OCG 555 Modern Oceanographic Imaging and Mapping Technique (3 credits)


Example Programs of Study

Example Curricula: Coastal Systems with Specific Foci
Focus: Near-shore Physical Processes Focus: Coastal Ecology Focus: Oil Spills
Physical Oceanography Biological Oceanography Physical Oceanography
Geological Oceanography Foundations Of Earth System Dynamics Chemical Oceanography
Numerical Models and Data Analysis Applied Coastal Ecology Numerical Models and Data Analysis in Ocean Sciences
Geological Oceanography Salt Marsh Ecology Introduction To Marine Pollution
Ocean Waves and Storm Surge Modeling Restoration Ecology Marine Environmental Organic Chemistry
Engineering Wave Mechanics and Nearshore Processes Coastal Zone Law Marine pollution policy
Independent Study Independent Study Independent Study
Internship Internship Internship
Student Seminar Student Seminar Student Seminar


For More Information

Professor Art Spivack
Graduate School of Oceanography
University of Rhode Island
Narragansett, RI 02882
Phone: (401) 874-6246

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