Atmospheric Science Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

The aim of the program leading to the Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science is to develop the student's ability to carry on scholarly research and to communicate the results concisely and accurately to the scientific community and the general public. Additionally, the program prepares the student for senior professional positions in the atmospheric and environmental sciences at academic institutions and in industry, government, or other agencies.

The program of study and research requires at least three academic years of full-time study and research, or the equivalent over a longer period, beyond the baccalaureate.

The following specializations in doctoral study are offered: cloud and precipitation physics, theoretical and dynamical meteorology, aerosol physics, synoptic and mesoscale meteorology, numerical weather prediction, tropical meteorology, air pollution meteorology, atmospheric chemistry and modeling, atmospheric transport and chemical processes, climate dynamics and modeling, ocean atmospheric interactions, paleoclimate reconstruction and environmental geo chemistry.

Requirements for Admission

In addition to the general University at Albany requirements for admission to doctoral study, an applicant's undergraduate preparation should include: (1) three semesters of a college calculus sequence for science/engineering majors, with a course in differential equations; (2) two calculus-based, college physics courses or related physics and math-based engineering or natural sciences courses; (3) 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 for 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.

Program of Study and Research

The student follows a program of study and research approved by his/her doctoral advisory committee. Course requirements include a minimum of 45 hours of graduate credit in organized courses, seminars, and independent study in atmospheric, environmental and other sciences or mathematics. Students must complete the Atmospheric Science coursework requirements for the M.S. degree. These requirements must be satisfied by coursework while earning an M.S. degree, subject to the approval of the DAES graduate committee. This program includes, in addition, research leading to an acceptable dissertation.

Departmental Examinations

  1. Written Qualifying Examination: The student must pass a written exam that covers the student's particular program area: synoptic-dynamic meteorology, physical meteorology and atmospheric physics, atmospheric chemistry, paleoclimatology and environmental systems.
  2. Oral Qualifying Examination: The student must pass an oral examination that is administered by the student's doctoral committee. The exam is based on a written prospectus prepared by the student that describes the basis and approach for the dissertation research.
  3. Dissertation Defense: The student must satisfactorily complete an oral presentation and defense of the dissertation.

Ancillary Duties

In addition to the completion of course requirements, satisfactory performance in some ancillary teaching, research, or practicum duties contributing to academic development is required, whether or not the student receives financial support from this institution. These duties will be assigned with educational objectives in mind.


The student must submit a dissertation in his/her area of specialization which represents a significant and original contribution in the field of atmospheric or environmental systems.

Full Time Study in Residence

Each student in a doctoral program must 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 for each doctoral student a sustained period of intensive intellectual growth. For this purpose a student will enroll in full-time study (9 credits) taken in each of two sessions, or in a regular session and a summer session, not necessarily consecutive, which must be completed satisfactorily.

Admission to Candidacy

A student is admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon the following:

  1. Satisfactory record in course and seminar study;
  2. Completion of University residence requirements;
  3. Satisfactory completion of the research tool requirement;
  4. Satisfactory completion of the qualifying examinations.