Undergraduate Major in Atmospheric Sciences

The Science and Letters Curriculum in Atmospheric Science prepares students for careers in a wide range of disciplines within the atmospheric sciences including meteorology, environmental science, climate, remote sensing, science education, atmospheric chemistry, computational science and other areas. The curriculum is tailored to achieve the student’s long term educational goals, their career aspirations in atmospheric science, and their general interests in the field. All students receive a firm foundation in mathematics, physics and chemistry, and develop data analysis and computational skills that can be used in a wide range of applications within and beyond the atmospheric sciences. Students can emphasize specific areas of interest in their elective choices.

With a B.S. degree in Atmospheric Science, students have opportunities for employment within agencies of government (e.g. the National Weather Service/NOAA, NASA, EPA, DOD, DOE), many private firms, and in colleges and universities for those who continue with graduate education. All students take part in independent study, internship or research projects as a capstone experience in their senior year. Students interested in a research career in atmospheric science are encouraged to undertake research projects in the capstone experience.

The undergraduate curriculum in atmospheric science is modeled on the recently published recommendations of the American Meteorological Society. The American Meteorological Society is the professional society for atmospheric scientists and meteorologists in the United States. Their "recommended attributes" for undergraduate degree programs in the atmospheric sciences are guidelines for graduates to be successful in finding employment or in seeking admission to graduate programs.

The Department of Atmospheric Science was ranked the #1 atmospheric science and meteorology program nationwide in 2015 by collegefactual.com, which examined major program quality and student outcomes. For complete information, go to collegefactual.com.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I want to change my major to Atmospheric Sciences. What do I do?

    First, make an appointment with an Atmospheric Sciences advisor (333-2046, dept@atmos.uiuc.edu) to discuss this option.  Your advisor will discuss career opportunities, course requirements, and other information with you that will help you decide if the Atmospheric Sciences major is right for you.  If it is, you must fill out a change of major form and submit it to the LAS Student Academic Affairs Office at 270 Lincoln Hall, 702 South Wright Street.  There are open periods when majors can be changed.  Consult the Academic Affairs Office (333-1705, or las-studentoffice@illinois.edu) to learn when the next open period will be.

  2. I want to minor in Atmospheric Sciences. What do I do?

    You will need to submit an "intent to minor" form to your college office. First, download this form. Second, book an appointment with our Undergraduate Advisor, Eric Snodgrass to have the form signed. Third, take the signed form to your home college office.

  3. I wish to leave the university for a semester or longer. What are the rules?

    Follow this link for all of the regulations regarding absences and withdrawals.

  4. How do I find out information about registering for classes?

    Find out here.

  5. I am interested in the LAS Honors programs. How can I find out more information?

    Find out more here.

  6. What does it mean to graduate with distinction in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences?

    Students majoring in Atmospheric Sciences can earn distinction, high distinction, and highest distinction upon graduation. The requirements for these awards are: For distinction: A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.2 in all of their Atmospheric Sciences courses, and completing three Atmospheric Sciences Elective courses.  For high distinction: A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.4 in all of their Atmospheric Sciences courses, and completing four Atmospheric Sciences Elective courses. For highest distinction: A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.6 in all of their Atmospheric Sciences courses, and completing five Atmospheric Sciences Elective courses.

  7. Can I major in Atmospheric Sciences and still study abroad?

    We do not have any arrangements with specific institutions overseas that have atmospheric sciences courses.  However, you certainly can study other subjects that qualify as electives if you wish to spend a semester overseas.  See the Study Abroad website for additional information.

  8. I am an Atmospheric Science Major and I can't register for a required course.  What should I do?

    Please come to the Department Office at 110 Atmospheric Sciences Building and meet with an advisor to discuss the situation.

  9. I plan to transfer to the U of I.  How can I tell which courses I took at my previous institution will transfer to the University of Illinois?

    You can check this directly at the transferology website. Transferology is an online tool that will help you view program requirements, course equivalencies, and see how courses you have taken or plan to take transfer to another college or university. Once accepted at the University of Illinois, your academic records officer will determine which courses you can transfer.  You can request consideration for other courses.  You will need to provide a detailed syllabus for the course you want considered.

  10. I am an international student.  Do special rules apply to me?

    Yes.  You should consult the Illinois International Office and, if applying to the U of I, see the Admission requirements.

  11. What is Full time academic status for undergraduates?

    A student must carry between 12-18 credits per semester. Underloads (<12 hours) or overloads (>18 hours) must be approved by LAS. See the college website for more information.

  12. Can I substitute courses for the major degree requirements?

    With Department and LAS approval, you may substitute up to 2 courses. Substitutions are normally granted only in exceptional cases. You will need to submit a major substituion form. These forms currently are not on line and must be obtained from your DAS advisor.

  13. Can I substitute courses for the DAS minor requirement?

    With Department and LAS approval, you may substitute up to 2 courses. Substitutions are normally granted only in exceptional cases.  You will need to submit a Minor Substitution Form.

  14. Can I double major?

    In the course of fulfilling degree requirements, LAS students may complete the minimum requirements for a second program of study in LAS. (Multiple majors cannot be declared across colleges). See the college website for more details.

  15. Can I earn two Bachelor's Degrees?

    Second degrees in LAS, as compared with multiple majors, are only available to Sciences and Letters students in special cases. All students who desire a second degree in LAS must apply for admission to second degree candidacy. Students in LAS pursuing a second field in another college must apply to that college directly for a second degree.  (See rules for details). See the college website for more details.

  16. Do I have to graduate as soon as I reach 120 credits and meet other criteria, even though I haven't been at the UI for 8 semesters?

    Students who complete degree requirements in less than 8 semesters and do not put name on degree list are allowed to continue to register for subsequent semesters.

  17. Can I register for a course as Credit/No Credit instead of for a letter grade?

    Yes, provided that the course is not a course required for your major or minor, that the course is not used to satisfy your general education requirements, Comp 1 and Advanced Comp requirements, or courses satisfying your Foreign Language requirement.  No more than 2 C/NC courses can be taken in one semester (1 in summer).  Note that students on probation cannot take C/NC courses, students must get at least a C- to get credit, and a maximum of 18 credits can be taken C/NC.  Lots of C/NC courses don't look good on a transcript, so exercise this option carefully. See the college website for more details.

  18. Can I get credit for a course based on my high school record?

    You must pass an advanced placement test to get credit for work done in high school.

  19. What is academic probation?

    A student is placed on Academic Probation when their GPA falls below 2.0. See the college website to learn more about academic probation rules.

  20. How many credits should I register for to insure I graduate in four years?

    You must have 120 credits minimum to graduate, and meet all the University, LAS, and Departmental degree requirements.  For 8 semesters, that averages to 15 credits per semester.

  21. Is there a limit to the number of years I have to get my degree?

    Yes, 10 semesters, not including summers (5 years).  See the college site more more details.

  22. I plan to graduate soon.  What do I need to do?

    There are two crucial steps you must take to ensure that you may don a cap and gown at the end of the appropriate semester. Click this link to learn what they are.