What is special about the BS degree in Physics and Physical Oceanography?

  • This program gives students early exposure to oceanography in addition to physics. It will make students feel at home in both disciplines right from the beginning.

  • The course sequences of this program and the BS in physics program are such as to make it possible for undecided students to switch from one to the other as late as at the beginning of the junior year and still graduate with the same class.

  • This program emphasizes applications of physics relevant to physical oceanography. Students in this program are working with faculty in both physics and physical oceanography. Students are therefore optimally prepared for graduate programs in oceanography. They are also well qualified to pursue graduate studies in physics.

  • Students in this program are able to take advantage of the research and teaching infrastructure at one of the most renowned schools of oceanography in the country. Special facilities on the 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.

  • Students in this program will do their senior project at the Bay Campus under the supervision of physical oceanography or physics faculty. Student research projects in this program may be funded through the Coastal Fellowship Program.

  • Students in this program have opportunities to participate in cruises on the research ship Endeavor during summers.

  • For the first three semesters of physics courses we offer honors sections to well prepared students. These small courses of 10-15 students explore the course materials more in depth and with more advanced applications.

  • Do you have more questions? You may find your answers in this FAQ page.


``My undergraduate education in physics has proven critical to my success in ocean exploration. It has not only helped me to understand ... the physics of the sea but also to work with engineers in creating new and exciting technologies to explore it.'' --- Robert Ballard, Professor of Oceanography, URI Graduate School of Oceanography

``Oceanography is a rapidly growing and generally interdisciplinary science. The best preparation for a student of oceanography is a really solid background in one of the core disciplines: physics, biology, chemistry, geology. The ideal preparation for physical oceanography graduate study is a Bachelor's degree in physics, including the study of fluid dynamics. '' --- David Farmer, Professor of Oceanography, Dean of the URI Graduate School of Oceanography

``There is an urgent need for the greater engagement of analytically capable, multi-disciplinary professionals in the challenging coastal and marine issues of our time. URI is one of very few places with a B.S. program from which students graduate with a rigorous background in physics and with an experiential education in applied oceanographic issues such as are addressed by the Sea Grant. '' --- Barry Costa-Pierce, Ph.D., Director, Rhode Island Sea Grant