Atmospheric Science students conducting research 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 Science 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 ensure 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.

Professional Development

You will work with your faculty advisor to develop a mentoring plan that includes professional development support.

In most instances, financial support is available through research grants to attend national conferences and for travel support. Some annual meetings, such as the AMS and AGU, offer travel funding.



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
  • Urban Climate and Weather
  • 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 right on campus. Here you can apply for internships and cooperative research.

Opportunities for individuals from underrepresented groups

We encourage individuals from underrepresented groups to contact faculty members to discuss research opportunities. In addition to the opportunities below, other opportunities might exist through university or external diversity fellowship programs that will allow you to work with a faculty member to craft a unique research project. For more information, email individual faculty members with whom you are interested in working, or contact Brian Tang, Chair of the department's Inclusion and Diversity Committee.

Graduate Student Research Opportunities
Research Opportunities

Dr. Sukanta Basu

2023 recruitment opportunities TBD


Dr. Lance F. Bosart

Professor Bosart has retired. He still has several graduate students and externally-funded research grants, but he is not accepting any new graduate students. Professor Bosart remains open to co-advising a new graduate student as a secondary advisor.


Dr. Kristen Corbosiero

Depending on availability of external funding, Dr. Corbosiero may be recruiting one or two new graduate students to work on tropical cyclone research projects related to: 

  1. Ventilation (dry-air intrusion pathways)
  2. Downshear reformation (where a new center forms in deep convection away from the original center)
  3. Extratropical transition in eastern North Pacific 


Dr. Aiguo Dai

Depending on availability of external funding, support for new PhD students to study climate variability and change may be available. Dr. Dai's projects focus on how and why the climate, in particular the global water cycle, precipitation, and drought, has changed in the recent past and how it may change in the future as global warming continues. His current research includes:

  1. The cause and impact of Arctic enhanced warming and sea-ice loss
  2. Arctic-midlatitude weather and climate interactions
  3. Regional climate downscaling and change
  4. Atlantic and Pacific decadal variability
  5. Hydroclimatic changes, such as drought in the western U.S.

For a list of his publications, please see his Google Profile. Depending on funding, Dr. Dai may admit one new student next fall.

Dr. Oliver Elison Timm

Dr. Oliver Elison Timm is recruiting a PhD student with BS or MS degree (preferred) in Atmospheric Sciences, Climate Sciences, or Oceanography (or related degree in natural sciences). 

The successful applicant has experience in quantitative data analysis (traditional statistical methods and machine learning methods) and should be proficient in scientific coding (Python (preferred), R, or Fortran).

You will contribute to the Pacific RISA activities, a NOAA-funded interdisciplinary research project. The main project will focus on North Pacific Climate variability, CMIP6 multi-model ensemble detection and attribution studies applied to regional changes in extreme rainfall in the Hawaiian Islands (as well as other regional climate extremes).


Dr. Craig Ferguson 

Dr. Ferguson is recruiting one PhD student with a BS or MS (preferred) in Atmospheric Science who is interested in the role of ecohydrological processes in subseasonal-to-seasonal (S2S) climate predictability and prediction.

The successful applicant will contribute to NASA-funded research activities focused on drought monitoring and modeling in the central U.S. and in other global hotspots of land-atmospheric coupling. The application and assimilation of NASA AIRS and SMAP satellite products will be central to this work. Applicants should have strong analytical skills and be proficient in scientific coding (Python preferred). 

Contact Dr. Ferguson to inquire about this opportunity by January 1, 2023.


Dr. Robert Fovell 

Dr. Fovell does not anticipate admitting new students in 2023.


Dr. Jeffrey Freedman 

Funded opportunities include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  1. Development and deployment of a buoy-based flux measurement system for coastal and offshore waters
  2. Use of scanning lidars and microwave radiometers to improve operational NWP models, renewable energy resource assessment and power production forecasting
  3. Development of a comprehensive outage prediction model for utilities


Dr. Jorge González-Cruz 

The research team of Professor Gonzalez-Cruz, the Coastal Urban-Environments Research Group (CUERG), has two openings for funded full time research opportunities at UAlbany Atmospheric Research Centers effective Spring 2023 in projects related to: 

  1. Urban Climate and Energy Modeling for the Northeast of US in collaboration with Brookhaven National Laboratory, and 
  2. Future Projections of Extreme Weather for the Caribbean in collaboration with the US National Ocean and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) under the RISA Program. 

Students with academic background in atmospheric and environmental sciences, or mechanical or civil engineering, or closely related fields are welcome to apply.  

Please contact Professor Gonzalez-Cruz for more information.


Dr. Aubrey Hillman 

Dr. Hillman does not anticipate admitting new students in 2023.


Dr. Sara Lance 

Pending availability of funds, Dr. Lance will be recruiting one or two new graduate students to assist with ongoing research projects, and could involve: 

  1. Measurements of atmospheric particulates, gases and/or cloud water chemical composition at Whiteface Mountain (WFM) and potentially also the greater NYC Metro area. 
  2. Modeling of multiphase chemical processes occurring in low altitude mixed-phase Arctic clouds emanating from leads or cracks in the sea ice, and comparison to aerosol physical and chemical measurements conducted during the recent CHACHA field deployment.  

Applicants interested in the above opportunities should contact Dr. Lance for more information. Additional information can be found at the Lance Lab research website.


Dr. Jiping Liu 

Depending on availability of external funding, Dr. Liu may be recruiting a new graduate student to work on research in the following areas: 

  1. Variability of Arctic melt ponds and their dynamic and thermodynamic links with atmospheric circulation and oceanic conditions
  2. Multi-decadal tropical and southern high-latitude teleconnections over the Common Era


Dr. Cheng-Hsuan (Sarah) Lu 

2023 recruitment opportunities TBD


Dr. Scott Miller 

Dr. Miller is conducting research in air-sea exchange of carbon dioxide, buoy-based air-sea momentum/heat/moisture fluxes and mesoscale sensor networks (meteorology, surface-atmosphere fluxes, low-cost air quality).  

Currently, he has an MS or PhD graduate research opportunity focused on development of an autonomous, buoy-based system for measuring air-sea interaction from the sea surface to the top of the marine atmospheric boundary layer. This capability will support basic studies of air-sea interaction physics and applied fields such as offshore wind energy. 

Highly-motivated students with a strong background in engineering, oceanography, atmospheric sciences, wind energy or other technical fields with an interest in field work, instrumentation, geophysical fluid mechanics and surface-atmosphere interaction are encouraged to apply. This project is a collaboration with Dr. Freedman at ASRC.  

Please contact Dr. Scott Miller for more information. 


Dr. Justin Minder 

Depending on the availability of funding, Dr. Justin Minder may be recruiting for a funded position focused on the design and evaluation of high-resolution numerical forecast models for high-impact winter weather events. Please contact Dr. Minder for more information. 


Dr. Sujata Murty 

Dr. Murty's research interests focus on Indo-Pacific coral paleoclimate reconstructions and synthesis with climate and ocean model simulations.  

Dr. Murty does not have opportunities for new graduate students at this time.


Dr. Brian Rose 

Professor Rose has no funded research positions for new students available at this time. 


Dr. Paul Roundy 

Dr. Roundy is looking for a graduate student to work on a NOAA grant using statistical post processing to predict numerical forecast model error at long lead times to improve forecasts, the final product of which will be transferred to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.  

Dr. Kara Sulia 

2023 recruitment opportunities TBD


Dr. Brian Tang 

Depending on availability of external funding, Dr. Tang may be recruiting a new graduate student to perform research on tropical cyclones in environments of moderate shear. Specific topics include: 

  1. Ventilation (dry-air intrusion pathways) 
  2. Downshear reformation (where a new center forms in deep convection away from the original center) 

The research will use a combination of observations and modeling to explore these processes to understand why there is a range of intensity change outcomes in moderate shear.

Dr. Chris Thorncroft 

2023 recruitment opportunities TBD


Dr. Ryan Torn 

Professor Torn will have one research assistant position available on utilizing operational ensemble prediction systems to understand the predictability of tropical cyclone track, intensity and hazard forecasts, and to develop ensemble-based products that can be used in operations. In addition, Professor Torn is willing to advise students who have fellowship funding and are interested in numerical modeling, predictability, synoptic-dynamic and mesoscale meteorology. 

Please contact Professor Torn for more information. 


Dr. Mathias Vuille 

Professor Vuille has no positions for new students available at this time.


Dr. Fangqun Yu 

Depending on availability of external funding, support for new PhD student(s) to study atmospheric particles and their environmental and climate impacts may be available. Dr. Yu´s group is conducting research in the following areas: 

  1. Particle formation and growth processes in the atmosphere 
  2. Regional and global modeling of size-resolved particle microphysics and chemistry 
  3. Solar radiation management: Process-level understanding, strategies and impacts 
  4. Formation and climate impacts of contrails from zero-carbon emission jet engines burning hydrogen 
  5.  Aerosol-cloud-precipitation interactions 
  6. Aerosol direct/indirect radiative forcing and climate change 
  7. Use of machine learning to improve regional and global aerosol models 
  8. Health effects of ultrafine particles and co-pollutants 

Please contact Dr. Fangqun Yu for more information. 

Dr. Liming Zhou 

Professor Zhou has no positions for new students available at this time.

Teaching and Research Assistantships

You will have teaching assistant (TA) and research assistant (RA) opportunities under the supervision of departmental faculty. TAs and RAs are typically paid for 20 hours of work per week. TA and RA graduate students have equal annual pay. See the Graduate Student Handbook for details on stipends. 

Teaching Assistant 

The major duties of TAs include grading course assignments, quizzes and exams, leading discussion sections, monitoring lab exercises, holding office hours and assisting with other tasks as assigned. Some courses are taught fully online and the main interaction with students takes place via online resources, such as Blackboard.  

TAs are expected to conduct research work during summer, which is paid for through funds from research grants from your faculty advisor.  

The funds for TAs come from the state of New York through the University’s Graduate School and the College of Arts and Sciences to assist the teaching of a course. 

Research Assistant 

The major duties of RAs are to assist the professor with a specific research project. This typically includes analyses, experiments and labs, simulations, programming, and writing and publishing research papers. This work is usually immediately related to your thesis or PhD work. 

The funds for RAs come from a research grant under a professor.

Should I apply to the MS or PhD Atmospheric Science program? 

If you have a bachelor's degree in atmospheric science or a closely related field, including physics, mathematics, and environmental science, you have the option to apply to the MS program or the PhD program.  

MS Atmospheric Science Degree

An MS degree can be earned as a terminal degree or as part of the path toward a PhD. MS students typically take 2 to 2.5 years to complete their degree. You will work on your research thesis under the supervision of your faculty advisor(s) and write a master’s thesis. 

PhD Atmospheric Science Degree

The PhD degree usually takes an additional three years beyond the MS. The total time from start of graduate school to PhD averages 5-6 years. The goal of the PhD program is to train scholars to create and communicate new knowledge. You will work towards the goal of successfully defending your dissertation topic. 

Applying directly to the PhD program provides you with more flexibility in terms of funding options. If you apply and are accepted into the PhD program, you can earn a master’s degree along the way to your PhD degree. However, you are not required to complete your PhD. You can leave the program after completing your master’s. If you decide to pursue a PhD later, you will not need to reapply and pay the application fee. 

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

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: Rolling
  • Spring: November 1
  • Summer: Not Available
Other Important Dates
  • Before January 15: If you’re applying for admission for the Fall semester, explore research opportunities in advance and contact faculty members with any questions
  • January 15: When you submit your application by this deadline, you are eligible, contingent on offer status, to be invited to visit our department in February
  • Mid-January to early February: Offers for RA / TA / ASRC fellowships are sent out to admitted applicants; Invitations to visit DAES/ASRC are sent
  • End of February: Recruitment visit weekend; More admissions offers are made for self-funded MS positions
  • March-April: Make your decision to accept or decline offer
  • April 15: Final date for applicants to decide on pending offers
  • After April 15: Additional offers for RA / TA positions are made

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

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

Note: GRE scores are not required when applying for admission to the PhD Atmospheric Science program.

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.

Application Review Process

The Atmospheric Science department’s Graduate Recruitment Committee will evaluate and rank each applicant on a holistic view (academic preparation; potential for scholarship; alignment with the program; diversity, equity and inclusiveness; self-appraisal and areas of personal growth) based on all submitted documents, such as GPA, grades for key courses, recommendations, statement, research experiences, any publications and supplemental materials. In addition, there may be an interview by faculty members if they have a specific interest in your application.

For questions about the application review process, contact Oliver Elison Timm at [email protected].

Tips for Writing Your Goals Statement

 Your statement should explain why you’re applying to the program and what makes you a strong applicant, both of in terms of your scholarly and non-cognitive skills. Your statement also allows you to differentiate yourself by sharing a little bit about what makes you unique. Please include a brief description of your field(s) of interest, related background, desired area of study, and research emphasis/career goals. Additionally, you should address the following items in your statement:

1. If you feel that any aspect of your past that is included in your application could be unfavorable to your admission (for example, a poor undergraduate GPA), you should discuss this aspect and how you have addressed it.

2. Please self-appraise your strengths and weaknesses, along with areas for personal growth that will make you successful in graduate school. For example, you may write about how you overcame obstacles in the past and what you have learned from those experiences about yourself. Or, you may want to tell us more about your plans or ideas on how to be aware of, and better respond to, potentially challenging situations as a graduate student.

3. Please include additional information that puts your application in a broader context. For example, you may write about your service and outreach activities and/or goals, including furthering equity, diversity, and inclusion in STEM for marginalized and minoritized individuals.

What Happens After I Apply?

Individual faculty will communicate directly with prospective students who share similar research interests. All students to be admitted should have identified and mutually agreed academic advisors. UAlbany's Graduate School will make the admission offer for each student once the student-advisor agreement is reached. If funding is offered, in a separate offer letter the academic advisor will be named, and the position and stipend as a research assistant or a teaching assistant will be specified. You will have until April 15 to accept or decline the offer.

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