Program in Atmospheric Science

The Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences and the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC) provide the University with the state’s largest program in atmospheric science and meteorology.

The undergraduate program provides a broad background in three fundamental areas of atmospheric science: synoptic (observations and weather forecasting), dynamic (theory and computer modeling), and physical (lightning, cloud physics, atmospheric chemistry). Because the department has a highly active research program in these areas, many opportunities exist for undergraduate research projects and part-time jobs.

The first two years of the program provide basic training in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and introductory atmospheric science. All students are encouraged to take one or two 100-level courses for enjoyment and experience (these count as electives but not as courses for the major). In the junior and senior years, requirements in the fundamental areas of atmospheric science are combined with electives, including advanced courses on atmospheric physics, atmospheric dynamics, weather forecasting, tropical meteorology and hurricanes, solar energy, air pollution, climatology, and computer applications.

Many opportunities exist for students to become involved in department activities. Each semester, students can take part in internship programs with the on-campus office of the National Weather Service (NWS), the New York State Mesonet, the New York State Office of Emergency Management; and many others. 

In addition, a weather forecasting competition is held in the department each semester while classes are in session. The forecasting contest, along with concurrent weather discussions led by a faculty member, are open to all undergraduate majors. Undergraduates hired part-time and during the summer through research grants have the chance to work closely with a faculty member while contributing to current meteorological research. The Eastern New York Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) meets regularly and provides speakers of general interest on a variety of meteorological topics. Through these and other activities, the department offers exciting and varied opportunities to any student curious about the science of the atmosphere around us.

Graduates obtain employment in weather forecasting, environmental engineering, TV broadcasting, scientific consulting, and other private firms; in university departments and research laboratories; and in federal and state agencies such as the National Weather Service, U.S. Air Force, and NY State Department of Environmental Conservation. Graduate school and the pursuit of an advanced degree is an expected option for our graduates. (The department offers full financial support and a complete tuition waiver to most students accepted into our graduate program.)

Degree Requirements for the Major in Atmospheric Science

General Program B.S.: A minimum of 70 credits for the combined major and minor including: A ATM 209, 210, 211, 315, 316, 317, 320, 321, 350, 419; at least 15 additional credits from A ATM 301 and higher level courses (excluding A ATM 304) and including one of A ATM 311 and 405 and one of A ATM 306, 405, 415, and A ENV 450; A CHM 120 or 130 or T CHM 130; A MAT 111 or 112 or 118 or T MAT 118; A MAT 113 or 119 or T MAT 119; A MAT 214, 311; A PHY 140 or 141 or T PHY 141; A PHY 145; A PHY 150 or 151 or T PHY 151. No more than 6 credits from A ATM 490, 497, 498, or 499 may be applied toward the major requirements; further, a maximum of 3 credits from A ATM 490 will apply.

A solid foundation in physics and mathematics is recommended for all students planning to major in atmospheric science. It is recommended that all students considering this major meet with a representative of the department before each of the freshman and sophomore registration sessions.

Departmental Honors Program

Students who have by the end of their fourth semester attained a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.25 and a grade point average of at least 3.50 in courses required of the major in atmospheric science may apply to the department chair for the program leading to a B.S. degree with honors in atmospheric science. Applications must be submitted before the end of the first semester of the student’s junior year and must be accompanied by letters of recommendation from at least two faculty members.

To be admitted to the program, a student must have completed two semesters of physics (A PHY 140 or 141 or T PHY 141, A PHY 145, A PHY 150 or 151 or T PHY 151), three semesters of mathematics (A MAT 111 or 112 or 118 or T MAT 118, A MAT 113 or 119 or T MAT 119, A MAT 214), and must be enrolled in or have completed A ATM 316. These requirements may be altered, upon request, for qualified transfer students. At the end of the junior year, the student’s program will be reviewed by the Honors Committee to see if satisfactory progress is being made.

To be eligible for a degree with honors, students must complete a minimum of 82 credits specified as follows: (1) the general program B.S.; (2) any two additional A ATM courses from 301 or higher, excluding A ATM 304; and (3) 6 credits of A ATM 499 taken over at least two semesters culminating in a significant undergraduate thesis and an honors seminar in the student’s final semester. No more than 9 credits from A ATM 490, 497, 498 or 499 may be applied to the major requirements; a maximum of 3 credits from A ATM 490 will apply. Students in the program must maintain both a minimum grade point average of 3.25 overall and 3.50 in the major coursework during the junior and senior years.

Upon completion of the requirements, the honors committee will make its recommendation to the faculty to grant the degree with honors in atmospheric science based upon the candidate’s (1) academic record, (2) research project report, (3) honors seminar, and (4) faculty recommendations.

Combined B.S./M.S. Program

The combined B.S./M.S. program in atmospheric science provides an opportunity for students of recognized academic ability and educational maturity to fulfill simultaneously undergraduate and graduate course requirements in their senior year, thereby accelerating progress toward the M.S. degree. A carefully designed program can permit a student to complete the B.S. and M.S. degrees one year sooner than is otherwise possible.

The combined program requires a minimum of 138 credits, of which at least 30 must be graduate credits. In qualifying for the B.S., students must meet all University and college requirements, including the requirements of the undergraduate major described previously, the minimum 60-credit liberal arts and sciences requirement, the general education requirements, and residency requirements. In qualifying for the M.S., students must meet all University and college requirements as outlined in the Graduate Bulletin, including completion of a minimum of 30 graduate credits and any other conditions such as a research seminar, thesis, comprehensive examination, professional experience, and residency requirements. Up to 9 graduate credits may be applied simultaneously to both the B.S. and M.S. programs.

In the summer following the senior year, the student will begin work on his or her graduate research. In preparation for this accelerated research program, the student will be required to take two semesters (6 credits) of A ATM 499, Undergraduate Research, during the junior or senior year. These 6 credits may be counted toward the undergraduate elective requirement from either of the following requirements: (1) from any four additional A ATM courses at the 400 or 500 level as advised or (2) from 6 additional credits in mathematics or sciences as advised.

Students may apply for admission to the combined degree program in atmospheric science at the beginning of their junior year or after the successful completion of 56 credits. A cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or higher and three supportive letters of recommendation from faculty are required for consideration.