UAlbany Launches New Graduate Program in Applied Atmospheric Science

DAES faculty and students observe the "Science on a Sphere" globe inside ETEC.

By Mike Nolan

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 18, 2022) — A new graduate program launching at the University at Albany will aim to prepare the next generation of weather and climate professionals for career success.

UAlbany’s new Master of Science program in Applied Atmospheric Science, which will be offered through the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences (DAES) at the College of Arts and Sciences, has been approved by the New York State Department of Education and is now accepting applications.

The 30-credit, non-thesis program will focus on preparing students for employment with organizations that use weather and climate information for decision making. Through the application of atmospheric data and theory, students in the program will develop the skills necessary to solve problems related to the impact of weather, water and climate on energy, agriculture, and supply chain, as well as market and industry risk.

It is designed to be completed in one year, with 12 credits earned through coursework in the fall and spring semesters, followed by a capstone six-credit summer internship culminating in a written report and oral presentation.

The program includes options for courses in business, applied data analysis and programming, data visualization and emergency management and communication. Internships will be available through partnership with UAlbany’s Center of Excellence in Weather and Climate Analytics, an entrepreneurial hub for the 120-plus weather and climate faculty, researchers, and research staff based on campus, as well as private sector partners and research laboratories.

Students will choose one of three tracks: Business, Data Analytics or Policy and Emergency Preparedness.

“Weather, water and climate impact nearly every sector of our economy,” said Ryan Torn, DAES chair and professor. “This unique academic program, the first of its kind in the SUNY system, was designed in collaboration with industry partners to prepare the future atmospheric science workforce for employment.”

Industry Career Opportunities

Over the past several decades, the economic impacts of a changing climate and significantly more extreme weather events have bolstered atmospheric scientists' employment landscape.

A recent update to the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an increase in job availability of 8 percent for atmospheric scientists between 2020 and 2030. Specifically, it lists the best job prospects for meteorologists to be in the private industry.

To help meet this demand, UAlbany hosted a three-day National Science Foundation-sponsored “Mind the Gap” workshop in June that partnered academics with the private sector to create new industry-focused course materials for atmospheric science students. The workshop included faculty from around 30 universities and 25 representatives from large companies, such as Amazon, IBM, the Weather Channel and Liberty Mutual, along with start-ups and independent consultant groups.

Launching this new graduate program at UAlbany signifies the next step in bringing the academic and business sector together, according to Andrea Lang, a DAES associate professor, who led the workshop. 

"The career options for students with a degree in atmospheric science are expanding and I’m excited that UAlbany has developed this extraordinary multi-disciplinary program to prepare students to lead in these new roles,” Lang said.

Investing in a Resilient Future

Last November, ETEC, a $180 million, 246,000 square-foot research and development complex opened on UAlbany’s Uptown Campus, housing all of the University's weather and climate researchers, along with the nation’s first College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, together under one roof.

Since the building’s launch, interdisciplinary collaboration has grown between researchers in these areas on campus, highlighted by the launch of a Weather, Climate and Emergency Preparedness Scholarly Community in February.

The new Applied Atmospheric Science program adds to UAlbany’s existing academic offerings in Atmospheric and Environmental Science.