Initial Program of Study


The Department of Atmospheric Sciences offers programs of graduate study leading to the degrees of Master of Sciences (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).  The Department also cooperates in offering studies leading to degrees of M.S. and Ph.D. under the interdepartmental Program on Climate Change and Program on Astrobiology and under less formal arrangements with other degree-granting units on campus.

While the graduate program has no specific prerequisites, it is generally recommended that at least two years of mathematics (beginning with calculus and going through differential equations) be taken prior to applying for admission into the program, as well as one and one half years of calculus based physics.  Other courses in mathematics, computer science and the various physical sciences would also be appropriate, depending upon a student's interest in a specific aspect of the atmospheric sciences.  (A student interested in atmospheric chemistry might, for example, take additional courses in chemistry). 

After admission into the program, each student must confer with the Graduate Program Coordinator prior to registration for the first quarter. Full-time students normally register for 18 credits (including research and seminar credits) in each quarter of the first year.

For most students, the first year of graduate study is devoted largely to basic courses in atmospheric sciences and mathematical methods. Research projects and graduate courses in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences are closely related, and the well-prepared graduate student may expect to begin research work rather quickly.  Virtually all advanced students devote at least half-time to research that may include experimental laboratory work, observations in the field, data analysis, numerical simulation, and mathematical analysis.

Graduate students entering the Department of Atmospheric Sciences will be assigned a primary faculty advisor.  A supervisory committee will be established with the primary faculty advisor as chairman, by the end of the first year in residence.


Students on hike

First year grad students on the all day hike to Park Butte Lookout near Mt. Baker


End of First Summer Seminar

Faculty advisors are expected to meet frequently with their first-year students during the summer to help them begin their thesis research, and, for masters students, to establish a focused plan for the master's thesis. All first-year students are required to give a 20-minute presentation in a one-day seminar at the end of the summer quarter of their first year of study. The presentation should describe their progress toward defining a thesis topic and on articulating the goals and proposed methodology that will be used to carry out their research.  Preliminary results, if available, can also be presented, but students are not expected to have actually obtained significant results at this early stage of their studies. This seminar usually takes place the week before Fall-quarter classes begin. To keep the presentations casual and low-key, only professors, the class of incoming graduate students and the presenters are invited to attend the seminars.