New initiative allows URI undergraduates to get jumpstart on oceanography graduate degree

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Students can save on tuition costs, get advantage in job market

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – April 10, 2013 – The Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island is providing URI undergraduates interested in earning a Master of Oceanography degree with a chance to get a jumpstart on their coursework and complete the degree just one year after finishing their bachelor’s degree.

URI students accepted to the program, called the Fifth Year Master of Oceanography, will typically take one graduate level oceanography course during the fall semester of their senior year and two oceanography courses in the spring semester. They can then complete the remaining graduate degree requirements with two semesters of coursework the following school year.

“We’re trying to increase the involvement of undergraduates at GSO while also getting GSO faculty and marine scientists more involved with undergraduate students,” said Art Spivack, the professor of oceanography who is coordinating the new initiative.

A Master of Oceanography degree is a valuable credential for those interested in entering the fields of ocean environmental management and assessment, marine industries, science writing, ocean policy and law, education and for those who want to go on to earn a doctorate in oceanography, marine biology or other aspects of marine science. Students with this degree will have a distinct advantage in the job market over those graduating with only a bachelor’s degree.

“This new program will enhance our ability to recruit excellent students to URI as freshmen because they will look forward to the opportunity to study with the world-renowned oceanographers at GSO,” says Jacqueline Webb, coordinator of the URI Marine Biology Program, which involves 200 undergraduates.

To qualify for the program, URI students must have completed 60 credits with a minimum grade point average of 3.2 and earned a grade of B or better in each of four prerequisite courses.

Spivack and Webb expect that the program will be of particular interest to undergraduate students studying marine biology, but students studying biology, fisheries, natural resources science, geosciences, chemistry, physics and engineering and an interest in marine science are also expected to apply.

“Not only does this program allow our undergraduate students to better plan their program of study and complete their graduate degree in one year, but it also saves them money on tuition,” said Spivack.

Students interested in learning more about the program can visit or contact the GSO Academic Affairs office at 401-874-6246 or