Academic Program

Student Learning Goals

The core courses and the coursework in the individual degree tracks laid out below are designed to ensure that students who obtain a B.S. in Atmospheric Sciences:

  • Understand the basic physics and chemistry of the atmosphere and the fundamental nature of atmospheric circulations over a broad range of scales.
  • Have an appreciation of the interaction of the atmosphere with the oceans and land surface.
  • Possess a strong background in physics and mathematics.
  • Be eligible for the rating of professional meteorologist given by the United States Civil Service Commission (meteorology track only).
  • Be prepared for a range of career options in weather forecasting, air pollution and environmental meteorology, climate studies, TV weather forecasting, or graduate research.

Core Courses

The atmospheric science major allows flexibility of course planning by providing several choices in career direction. However, all students must begin by taking a collection of core courses that provide essential material that all atmospheric scientists should master. A grade of at least 2.0 is required in the core courses, with an overall GPA of at least 2.5 in all degree courses.

Core – Math & Physics (30 credits total)
These courses (or their equivalent) must be completed prior to registering for the first course in the Core ATM S sequence. Students interested in majoring in Atmospheric Sciences should start taking these courses as soon as possible.

MATH 124 Calculus with Analytic Geometry I (5cr)
MATH 125 Calculus with Analytic Geometry II (5cr)
MATH 126 Calculus with Analytic Geometry III (5cr)
PHYS 121 Mechanics (5cr)
PHYS 122 Electromagnetism (5cr)
PHYS 123 Waves (5cr)

Core – Atmos Sci (ATM S) (25 credits total)
These courses must be completed in the order listed below, beginning with ATM S 301 in Autumn Quarter.

ATM S 220 Exploring Atmospheric Sciences (1cr taken twice)
ATM S 301 Introduction to Atmospheric Sciences (5cr, Aut)
ATM S 340 Thermodynamics and Cloud Processes (3cr, Win)
ATM S 370 Atmospheric Structure and Analysis (5cr, Win)
ATM S 321 Science of Climate (3cr, Spr)
ATM S 341 Atmospheric Radiative Transfer (3cr, Spr)
ATM S 431 Boundary-Layer Meteorology (3cr, Aut)

Statistics Requirement (4-5 credits total)
One of these courses should be completed as soon as possible as it is a pre-requisite for upper-division ATM S coursework. Both courses have pre-requisites.

Q SCI 381 Introduction to Probability and Statistics (5cr)
STAT 390 Probability and Statistics in Engineering and Science (4cr)

Degree Options

In addition to the core coursework, a student must complete a selection of additional courses, for a minimum of 39 credits of coursework at the 200 level or above. These credits should be chosen to provide a coherent, customized program that reflects the student’s interests and career goals. Elective selections are generally made according to the student’s choice of degree options – any variation from standard options must be approved in advance by the department. A grade of at least 2.0 is required for all elective classes that are applied to graduation requirements. Your option choice will be reflected on your final transcript.

Option 1: Meteorology

This option provides students with a strong background in dynamics, synoptic meteorology and weather forecasting, and provides the coursework required for entry into the National Weather Service, military forecasting careers or graduate school. Students who choose the Meteorology option are eligible for the rating of professional meteorologist given by the United States Civil Service Commission.

Option 2: Climate

This option provides additional background in oceanography and glaciology so that a student has a widened perspective of the climate system.

Option 3: Atmospheric Chemistry and Air Quality

This option is aimed at students with interests in chemistry and/or environmental engineering who would like to apply their knowledge of atmospheric sciences to environmental issues such as evolving atmospheric composition and air quality.

Option 4: Data Science

This option provides students with additional programming, data management, visualization and machine learning skills which can be applied to meteorology, air pollution, climate and a variety of other fields.

Degree Plans

Most Atmospheric Sciences majors take their major courses during the junior and senior years, although it is certainly possible to begin the major course work as a sophomore if the prerequisites are met. Core courses are offered only once per year, with the first course beginning in Autumn Quarter.  It is crucial that ATM S courses are taken in the recommended sequence.

Linked below are suggested four-year degree plans in each specialization – students planning on transferring to the UW should consult with their institutional adviser on equivalencies for the courses listed in the plans. Plans do not include UW College of Education general education requirements and may vary, depending on the individual. Please note that non-ATM S courses are subject to the home departments’ scheduling discretion and may not be offered as listed in degree plans. It may also be possible to complete some non-ATM S courses prior to the quarter(s) listed in the degree plans below, depending on prerequisites and quarters offered. To discuss a degree plan, contact the Academic Advisor.

Option 1: Meteorology

Option 2: Climate

Option 3: Atmospheric Chemistry & Air Quality

Option 4: Data Science


A minimum 3.30 cumulative GPA in all UW courses and 6 credits in ATM S 390 and/or 498 is required. Please contact the Academic Advisor for more information.

Department of Atmospheric Sciences Undergraduate Program Continuation Policy

While the University has regulations governing scholastic eligibility for continuance, the Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences has set additional requirements in order to make the best use of limited facilities and resources available and to provide reasonable assurance for academic success. This policy helps ensure that students make satisfactory progress toward completion of their degree by taking into account degree requirements and course sequences. This policy applies to all students in the Atmospheric Sciences major.

Download continuation Policy (pdf)

Back to Top