Procedures for PhD Qualification


All students admitted into the Atmospheric Sciences graduate program will be admitted initially to the M.S. track of study.

Students in the M.S. track who seek entry into the Ph.D. program will be evaluated by the COGS (Committee on Graduate Studies).

COGS Prodcure Checklist:
COGS Checklist - click and read this first

Supplemental COGS Info:
COGS Deadlines (opens in new tab)
Degree Requirements
Evaluation by COGS
Time Limitation
COGS Final Decision
Current COGS members

Recommendation Letter Guidelines (for student's supervisory committee)

Degree Requirement

A student who wishes to enter the Ph.D. program through option 1 must finish all required graduate courses prior to evaluation by COGS.

Students who have already taken equivalents of some of the required graduate courses may petition COGS to skip these courses. This may require an oral examination by a COGS-selected faculty member to test the student's proficiency in the required course material and/or documentation of the contents and student performance in the previously taken courses. For a student proceeding through option 1, such petitions must be approved by the Graduate Program Coordinatorat least one year before the COGS evaluates the student's entry into the Ph.D. program.


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Evaluation by the COGS

Evaluation by the COGS will take into account the student's research potential and academic record. The evaluation of the academic record will be based mainly on the level of difficulty and breadth of the courses taken and the grades earned in those courses, with particular emphasis on the required atmospheric sciences core courses. The COGS has no set threshold for a minimum GPA in core ATMS courses, but students can consult the distribution of GPAs of students who have successfully passed COGS. The research potential will be evaluated from the M.S. thesis  and the seminar presentation. In addition, for option 1 , COGS will be strongly influenced by the M.S. supervisory committee's written evaluation of the thesis or manuscript, and the committee’s recommendation as to whether it constitutes sufficient evidence of research capability to qualify the student for the PhD program. This recommendation letter should describe in detail the ideas in the thesis or paper that came from the student. The letter should also give examples that demonstrate creativity, independent thought, initiative, and critical thinking in the student’s work. The COGS may solicit comments concerning the student’s academic or research performance from individual departmental faculty members. In the event of a negative decision, the COGS will consider one subsequent request for reevaluation provided that the second request is made prior to exceeding the time limitation described below. 

For the supervisory committee: more detailed guidelines on writing the recommendation letter may be found here.


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Time Limitation

A student may be considered for acceptance into the departmental PhD program for up to three years from the time of entry into the Atmospheric Sciences graduate program, not including academic quarters in which the student is (a) on leave from the university, (b) predominantly occupied with field (or other research projects) that are not directly thesis related, or (c) predominantly devoted to satisfying course requirements for extra-departmental academic programs in which the student is registered. It is expected that most students will serve for one or two quarters as a teaching assistant during this three-year period. Quarters not counted toward the three-year limit are subject to the approval by the COGS and in the case of (b) and (c) COGS approval must be requested during the academic quarter(s) in question.

The COGS will usually meet the third week of each quarter. The student should notify the Academic Adviserof his/her intention to be considered by COGS at least one month before the end of autumn quarter. This will allow scheduling of the seminar during winter quarter.

Students who have completed an M.S. thesis but are still awaiting a COGS decision should continue to register for ATM S 700 research credits.


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COGS Guidelines

Final decisions concerning admission to PhD candidacy will be delegated to the COGS, without the requirement for ratification by a vote of the entire departmental faculty; however, COGS decisions may be overruled by a 2/3 vote of the entire department faculty if there is an appeal by the student or his/her advisor.

The COGS is composed of five faculty members (with a quorum of four for meetings). COGS members will be excused from the COGS evaluation of students that they supervise. Academic faculty members chosen from a ranked list may be asked to substitute for regular COGS members if this is necessary to achieve a quorum for a timely COGS meeting. The terms of the members are three years and are staggered, so that there is memory from one year to the next. When the three-year term of the COGS chair is completed, one of the existing COGS members (after already serving on COGS for 1-3 years) will be appointed to a three-year term as new chair.


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Current Members of the Committee on Graduate Studies

Dale Durran, Chair
Becky Alexander
Tom Ackerman
Qiang Fu
Dennis Hartmann


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