MASTER OF SCIENCE DEGREE IN ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES

The following Master of Science (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 M.S. in Atmospheric Sciences correspond to the general requirements of the Graduate College for the degree, with the additional requirements outlined below.  These requirements were adopted in November 2015. Students entering before that date may apply these requirements or requirements in force at the time of their entry. A total of 32 hours are required; a minimum of 16 of the 32 hours must come from 500 series core courses. The Department offers two options for an M.S. degree, a thesis option and a non-thesis option.  In both options, students admitted to the M.S. program are required to take the following four core courses:  Atmospheric Dynamics (ATMS 500), Physical Meteorology (ATMS 504), Weather Systems (ATMS 505), and Climate Dynamics (ATMS 507).  Students must complete core course requirements within the first 4 semesters of entering the M.S. program.  Under extenuating circumstances, students may petition to the department for a time extension in order to satisfy core course requirements.  Non-core courses may be completed at any time prior to graduation.
 
In addition to credit hour requirements, DAS graduate students are required to enroll in the departmental seminar course (0 credit hour) during all academic semesters while registered as a graduate student.  Students must also successfully complete the departmental course on Professional Development (1 credit hour), typically during the first Fall semester of entering the program.  Students who are participating in off-campus academic or research opportunities may petition the department for an excused absence from seminars.
 
Students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B) in the core courses (500, 504, 505, 507), while not earning less than a B- in any of these courses.  S/U grades are not acceptable in these courses. In the event a student earns a grade lower than a B- in a core course, the student will be allowed one opportunity to retake the course and earn an acceptable grade (B- or better).  Students must also maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher over all courses while enrolled in the M.S. program, in accordance with guidelines set by the UIUC Graduate College.  Course grades from previous graduate programs will be considered in the GPA evaluation, for any course credit applied to the M.S. degree program, subject to rules of the Graduate College regarding transfer credit.
 
There are two options for an M.S. degree:

 

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.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

ATMS 500, ATMS 504, ATMS 505, and ATMS 507

16 hours

Additional Graduate-level Courses in ATMS or approved graduate-level courses in another discipline

8 hours

ATMS 599 Thesis Research  (min/max applied toward degree)

 8 hours

Total Hours

32 hours

 

Other REQUIREMENTS

The thesis option is intended for those students who wish to pursue a career in research in the atmospheric sciences or related fields. This option is strongly recommended for students who wish to later pursue a Ph.D. degree.

The student is required to write a thesis and give a seminar on his/her thesis research.

 

Minimum GPA

3.0

 

THESIS SEMINAR

When the thesis is near completion, or is completed, the student is required to give a departmental 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.

THESIS

All 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 thesis.  A department staff member 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 up to 8 hours of credit toward the required 32 hours. 

CONTINUING FOR THE PH.D. DEGREE FOLLOWING M.S. COMPLETION

Students who elect the thesis option can, with the Graduate Affairs Committee (GAC) approval, continue directly for the Ph.D. degree following completion of all Master’s degree requirements. The student must notify the Department Head regarding his/her intention to petition to continue onto the PhD program, two weeks prior to the seminar. If the student fails to inform the department, then he/she may enter the PhD program only through re-applying to the DAS graduate program through standard University admission procedures. A letter of assessment is required from the student’s M.S. advisor and a letter of support from the anticipated Ph.D. advisor. If the student plans to continue his/her Ph.D. with the same advisor, one letter of support is sufficient. The GAC will evaluate the candidate based on the following information: Course performance, M.S. thesis, seminar presentation, letter(s) of assessment/support, and the student’s annual review documents. Within fourteen days after receiving the student’s material, the committee members will vote, and the GAC Chair will notify the Department Head of the outcome.

2) NON-THESIS OPTION:

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

ATMS 500, ATMS 504, ATMS 505, and ATMS 507   

16 hours

Additional Graduate-level Courses in ATMS or approved courses in another discipline 

12 hours

ATMS 596-Non Thesis Research (no more than 4 hours may be applied toward the degree):

4 hours

Total Hours

32 hours

 

OTHER REQUIREMENTS

The student is required to develop a project in ATMS 596 that focuses on a topic proposed by the student and approved by the department head and present an informal (non-seminar series) talk to a committee.

 

Minimum GPA

3.0

 

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 are 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 student must register for ATMS 596 to obtain this credit.
 
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. 
 
In the project, the student is required to demonstrate: 
 
a) Writing skills, by writing a substantial report summarizing the project. 
 
b) Presentation skills, by presenting the project in an informal (non-seminar series) talk to a committee of three interested Department members, one of which is the advisor. 
 
c) 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 interested in Applied Meteorology might develop a project related to an applied field within the Atmospheric Sciences, such as hydrology, agricultural meteorology, air pollution, consulting meteorology, financial applications, forecasting, or emergency management. A student interested in K-12 Science Education might develop online modules for K-12 Education, or make a contribution to textbook development by a faculty member for the college level. A student interested in Computer Applications might develop computational tools that would be useful in the Atmospheric Sciences. Examples might be objective analysis schemes, internet educational instructional units, or radar algorithms. 
 
The project and presentation will be graded as a whole (Pass/Fail) by the faculty committee consisting of the advisor and two faculty members chosen by the advisor. 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.