Physics and Physical Oceanography B.S.


radar image of a coastal storm

This unique interdisciplinary program is offered by the Department of Physics in partnership with URI’s renowned Graduate School of Oceanography (GSO). The program provides you with early exposure to both oceanography and physics, giving you the opportunity to feel at home in both disciplines from the beginning.

This degree program provides you with the skills to explore the dynamics of the oceans, their physical properties, and how water moves within them. Physical oceanographers gather, analyze and model data concerning the role of oceans in global climate change, El Niño, tropical cyclones, deep ocean circulation, and geophysical turbulence and mixing.

Because this is the only program of its kind offered in New England, students from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont are eligible to enroll at a reduced rate through the New England Regional Tuition Program.

Program Highlights

  • The course sequences of this program and the B.S. in Physics program make it possible for you to switch from one to the other as late as at the beginning of your junior year, and still graduate on time.
  • Take advantage of the research and teaching infrastructure at one of the most renowned schools of oceanography in the country. Special facilities on the Narragansett Bay Campus include the Pell Scientific Library, a research reactor, a geophysical fluid dynamics laboratory, the 185-foot Research Vessel Endeavor, a marine ecosystem laboratory, and a research aquarium.
  • You will work with faculty in both physics and physical oceanography, and will therefore be optimally prepared for graduate programs in oceanography, or to pursue graduate study in physics.
  • You will do your senior project at the Narragansett Bay Campus under the supervision of physical oceanography or physics faculty. Your research projects in this program may be funded through the Coastal Fellowship Program.
  • You will have opportunities to participate in cruises on the research ship Endeavor during summers.


Students graduating in this course of study are well prepared to pursue careers in conventional physics or physical oceanography. Technical positions in private or government oceanographic research laboratories are available for physical oceanographers at the B.S. level.

Students who continue on to graduate studies should expect to find high demand for physical oceanographers with advanced degrees. Students entering the URI Graduate School of Oceanography from this program will have a significant head start compared to those entering from most other undergraduate institutions.

Program Contacts

With questions about this program, please contact one of the program coordinators, David Heskett or Gerhard Müller.