Students on Whiteface Mountain

Doctor of Philosophy

Atmospheric Science

Program of Study


Customize your course of study to learn about concepts such as atmospheric physics, atmospheric dynamics, environmental geochemistry, hydrometeorology, synoptic dynamic meteorology, aerosol physics and cloud chemistry.

Your program is organized around research experience. You will have the opportunity to actively contribute to significant research areas including tropical cyclones, climate variability, glacier cycles, air-sea carbon dioxide, lake-effect snow, and monsoons.

Course Requirements

A minimum of 45 hours of graduate credit in courses, seminars and independent study in atmospheric, environmental and other sciences or mathematics. These requirements must be satisfied by coursework with research leading to a dissertation. See the MS Atmospheric Sciences for course requirements.

Departmental Examinations

1. Written Qualifying Examination
The written exam covers your program area: synoptic-dynamic meteorology, physical meteorology and atmospheric physics, atmospheric chemistry, paleoclimatology and environmental systems.

2. Oral Qualifying Examination
The oral exam is based on your written prospectus that describes the basis and approach for your dissertation research.

3. Dissertation Defense
An oral presentation and defense of the dissertation.

Ancillary Duties

Satisfactory performance in teaching, research, or practicum duties contributing to academic development.


A dissertation in your area of specialization which represents a significant and original contribution in the field of atmospheric or environmental systems.

Full-Time Study in Residence

You are required to engage in full-time study beyond the master's degree or equivalent at the University in at least two sessions after admission to the advanced program. This requirement is designed to insure a sustained period of intensive intellectual growth. You will enroll in full-time study (12 credits) taken in each of two sessions, or in a regular session and a summer session, not necessarily consecutive.

Additional Information

See the Graduate Bulletin for details.

For more information, contact Oliver Elison Timm at [email protected].


Research projects are funded by federal, state and corporate grants. In addition to covering the costs of doing research and presenting results at international conferences, grants cover student tuition and a stipend.

Research projects may include:

  • Tropical Cyclones and Hurricanes
  • Mountain and Topography Influences
  • Climate Modeling
  • Glacier-Climate Interactions
  • Thunderstorm Electrification and Lightning
  • Solar and Wind Energy
  • Synoptic / Dynamic Meteorology and Atmospheric Chemistry

As a graduate researcher you will have access to UAlbany’s Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC), with opportunities to study atmospheric physics, chemistry and renewable energy.

Beyond the ASRC, take advantage of the National Weather Service, which is in walking distance of campus. Here you can apply for internships and cooperative research.

Career Outcomes

With a PhD in Atmospheric Science you will be prepared for a career in forecasting, research, agriculture, and education.

Potential job titles include:

  • University professor
  • Atmospheric scientist
  • Meteorologist
  • Geospatial engineer
  • Television broadcaster
  • Climate change scientist
  • Coastal scientist

"The faculty’s commitment to students led to numerous opportunities to attend conferences and workshops around the country to present my research.

DAES has a strong connection with the local community. Whether it’s teaching about cloud formation at a local high school, hosting science days on campus, or talking about societal impacts of my research with congressional staffers, I’ve been given numerous chances to work on communicating my growing scientific expertise to the general public.

The education I’ve received, both in and out of the classroom, at UAlbany has prepared me to join the workforce ready to understand and take on the scientific challenges of my field and discuss my work in a cogent and impactful manner."

- Matt Vaughan, MS ’15, PhD ’20

Climate Research at the Whiteface Mountain Field Station

International Students

This degree is designated as a STEM program. International students maintaining F-1 status are allowed to apply for up to 12 months of post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) following completion/graduation from their degree program. Currently, this degree program is also designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as an eligible degree for the F-1 STEM OPT work authorization extension; students who secure qualifying employment may be eligible to apply for the STEM OPT extension for a cumulative total of up to 36 months of F-1 OPT work authorization.

Admissions Requirements

Priority Review Deadline

  • Fall: January 15 
  • Spring: Not Available 
  • Summer: Not Available

Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: February 1
  • Spring: November 1
  • Summer: Not Available

No Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: June 1
  • Spring: November 1
  • Summer: Not Available
Required Application Materials
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Statement of goals

Applications for the Fall term received by January 15th will receive priority consideration.

Application Requirements

In additional to the general University at Albany requirements for admission to doctoral study, an applicant's undergraduate preparation should include:

  • 3 semesters of a college calculus sequence for science/engineering majors, with a course in differential equations
  • 2 calculus-based college physics courses or related physics and math-based engineering or natural science courses
  • At least one college-level chemistry or geochemistry course

A student who is deficient in these subjects will be expected to make up the deficiencies during the first year of graduate study, in consultation with their faculty advisor(s). A lack in one or more of these courses does not automatically disqualify a student from admission. Alternative courses, research, or work experience that demonstrate a strong background in math and physics can provide equivalent preparation. With the increasing demand of data analysis skills in professional positions, incoming students are expected to have basic skills in at least one computer coding language. We note that a BSc degree in meteorology or atmospheric sciences (or related programs) is sufficient to apply for admission to the PhD program.

Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.

  • Demonstrate ability to use sound scientific reasoning to develop testable hypotheses and evaluate complex scientific problems in a specific research area related to atmospheric science
  • Carry out an extensive, independent research project that addresses a significant scientific problem in a specific atmospheric science research area and includes:
    • Extensive review of relevant literature
    • Application of common, or development of new, scientific practices in observational data analysis, numerical modeling, and/or mathematical analysis of relevant phenomena
    • Ability to analyze the results using appropriate quantitative methods and draw appropriate conclusions
  • Document, detail, and defend the research conducted in a formal prospectus, written thesis, and oral dissertation defense
  • Independently develop effective written and oral communication skills that lead to the dissemination of research results to fellow atmospheric scientists at scientific meetings and the broader community