graduate degree in atmospheric sciences: master of science
The following M.S. requirements are formulated within the framework of the Graduate College
requirements as described in A Handbook for Graduate Students and Advisors. The requirements of the degree of Master of Science in Atmospheric Sciences correspond to the
general requirements of the Graduate College for the degree with the additional requirement that
a minimum of 16 hours must be graduate courses in Atmospheric Sciences, excluding thesis
credit. A total of 32 hours are required with a minimum of 12 hours from 500 series courses. The
Department offers two options for a Master’s degree, a thesis option and a non-thesis option.
1) Thesis Option:
The thesis option is intended for those students who wish to pursue a career in research in the Atmospheric Sciences. This option is strongly recommended for students who wish to later pursue a Ph.D. degree.
The M.S. student electing the thesis option is required to submit a thesis agreement to the
Department Head before beginning a detailed investigation. Normally this should be done by the
end of the student’s first year. It should be no more than two pages long. In the thesis agreement,
the student should clearly state the objective and the method of investigation. It must have the
approval signature of the thesis supervisor and the department head. Approved thesis agreements must be filed with the front office staff.
When the thesis is near completion, or is completed, the student is required to give a seminar on
his/her research. The seminar is intended to permit the departmental faculty to assess the
student’s skills in organizing and presenting a self-contained piece of research. If the student
expects to complete the thesis during the summer, the student must either schedule the seminar
for the previous spring or return to give the seminar during the fall semester. Only in extenuating
circumstances (e.g., prolonged illness) will the possibility of a summer seminar be considered; in
the rare case of a summer seminar, a majority of the departmental faculty must be present.
departmental theses must satisfy the format regulations described in the Graduate College Thesis Handbook. Students should be aware of these guidelines prior to writing their dissertation. A member of the Graduate Affairs Committee or department staff will generally perform the format check.
After the format approval has been obtained, the approval of the thesis by the advisor
and the Department Head constitute an official acceptance. The thesis may account for four or
eight hours of credit toward the required 32 hours.
Students who elect the thesis option can, with approval of the Department Head, continue directly for the Ph.D. degree following completion of all Master’s degree requirements.
2) Non-Thesis Option:
The non-thesis option is intended for students who wish to pursue careers in education, applied
meteorology, computer applications in meteorology, or other areas within atmospheric science
not specifically tied to research. The non-thesis option is not intended for students who wish to later pursue a Ph.D. degree. Students who elect the non-thesis option and later wish to enter the
Ph.D. program at the Department will be required to reapply for admission to the Department
using standard University procedures after receiving the Master’s degree.
Students selecting the non-thesis option can follow one of three tracks, Applied Meteorology,
Computer Applications in Meteorology, or Education. In all tracks, the student is required to
demonstrate professional writing, presentation and computing skills, while obtaining a solid
background in atmospheric science through course work. Specifically, the student is required to
complete a project that will focus on a topic in the chosen track. The project may account for
four hours of credit toward the required 32 hours.
The M.S. student electing the non-thesis option is required to submit a project description to the
Department Head before beginning the project. Normally this should be done by the end of the
student’s first year. It should be no more than two pages long. In the project description, the
student should clearly describe the topic and the scope of project. A faculty advisor will then be
assigned by the Department Head, based on the nature of the project and the faculty member’s
interests. The student in the non-thesis option is required to submit a progress report to the
Department Head at least once a year until graduation.
In the project, the student is required to demonstrate:
a) Writing skills, by writing a substantial paper summarizing the project.
b) Presentation skills, by presenting the project in an informal (non-seminar series) talk to the
committee and other interested Department members.
c) Basic computer skills, as dictated by the project.
The topic of the project will depend on the student’s interest and generally target the
employment sector in which the student wishes to work following graduation. For example, a
student in the Applied Meteorology track would be required to develop a project related to an
applied field within the Atmospheric Sciences, such as hydrology, agricultural meteorology, air
pollution, consulting meteorology, forecasting, or emergency management. In the Education
track, the project might involve developing WWW modules for K-12 Education, or be a
contribution to textbook development by faculty for the college level. In the Computer
Applications in Meteorology track, a student’s project might consist of developing computational
tools that would be useful in the Atmospheric Sciences. Examples might be objective analysis
schemes, WWW java-based instructional units, or NEXRAD algorithms.
To insure quality, the project/presentation will be graded (Pass/Fail) by a committee of three
faculty. If the student project is graded as “Fail” by any faculty member, the student will be
given an opportunity to correct the deficiencies and resubmit the work. Third and subsequent attempts will only be granted after petitioning the Department.