Graduate Programs

Master's and Ph. D. in Atmospheric Sciences

Graduate students taking air samples on campus

M.S. Atmospheric Sciences

An M.S. degree in Atmospheric Sciences prepares graduates for careers with both government agencies (such as the National Weather Service) and the private sector (ranging from the airline industry to private forecasting and consulting companies to TV stations). Two M.S. degree tracks are offered:

The research-based track

Students in the research track complete an original M.S. thesis based on independent research. 32 credit hours of coursework are also required, of which 23 hours must be formal (i.e., non-research based) coursework. The general minimum course requirements are:

  • Core courses (9 hours)
  • Other ATMO courses (6 hours)
  • Out-of-department courses (3 hours)
  • ATMO Seminar (1 hour required, 2 hours maximum)
  • 3 additional hours of formal coursework
  • Research hours

The non-thesis option

The majority of M.S. candidates pursue the research-based track, but a non-thesis option is also offered. The non-thesis M.S. requires a minimum of 36 hours of coursework. Non-thesis students must also pass a comprehensive exam in lieu of the thesis defense.

Most students complete their M.S. degree within two to three years of entering the department.

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Ph.D. Atmospheric Sciences

The Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences prepares graduates for university-level faculty appointments, as well as for independent research positions at academic institutions, government agencies (e.g., NOAA, NCAR, NRL, NSSL, etc.) or in private industry.

Minimum course requirements for the Ph.D. include 32 hours of formal coursework, plus research hours towards the completion of a doctoral dissertation. Courses must be chosen to satisfy the following minimum distribution requirements:

  • ATMO core courses (12 hours)
  • Other ATMO courses (12 hours)
  • Out-of-department courses (6 hours)
  • ATMO seminar (2 hours)
  • Research hours

Most students pursue additional coursework beyond the minimum, chosen in consultation with the advisor. Ph.D. candidates must also pass three exams: a qualifying exam, a research-based preliminary exam, and the final dissertation defense.

A bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite. A master’s of science is not required to apply as a Ph.D. student. Most students complete the Ph.D. degree within five to seven years after entering the department.

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