COGS (PhD Qualification)

Committee on Graduate Studies

COGS is composed of five faculty members who are responsible for evaluating and confirming a student’s ability to proceed in the Atmospheric Sciences graduate program as a PhD candidate. A student must apply to COGS prior to Winter Quarter of their third year to be considered for the PhD program.

An outline of the COGS procedures can be found here. Additional information about COGS can be found below.

Evaluation by the COGS

COGS evaluates the readiness of a student for admission to the PhD program, i.e. the suitability for advancement to PhD candidacy. The evaluation criteria are three-fold: 1) foundational knowledge in atmospheric science, 2) potential for conducting independent high-quality research in atmospheric science, 3) ability to develop and communicate new knowledge and to place it into a broader context. These criteria are judged based on the following pieces of evidence: 1) the student’s graduate academic record (especially required graduate courses and performance in those courses), 2) the clarity and content of a student’s Master’s Thesis draft, 3) the clarity and content of the student’s research oral presentation, 4) the quality of a student’s responses to questioning about their research by a broad subset of atmospheric science faculty (i.e., COGS members and their advisory committee), 5) the recommendation and evaluation of the student’s research advisory committee (i.e. Master’s committee).

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.

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 Adviser of 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.


See COGS checklist here.

COGS Decision

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.

Current Members of the Committee on Graduate Studies

Dargan Frierson, Chair
Alex Anderson-Frey
Dale Durran
Rob Wood

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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