Skip to Navigation
University of Utah    
  Jan 19, 2018
2017-2018 General Catalog

Atmospheric Sciences

Return to College of Mines and Earth Sciences Return to: College of Mines and Earth Sciences


College of Mines and Earth Sciences
Department Office: 819 William C. Browning Building
Mailing Address: 135 S. 1460 E., Rm. 819, Salt Lake City, UT 84112- 0110
Phone: 801-581-6136

Department Chair: Kevin D. Perry, Ph.D.
Undergraduate Advisor: 819 WBB, 801-581-6136,
Graduate Advisor: 819 WBB, 801-581-6136,

Atmospheric sciences seeks to understand the behavior and predictability of the Earth’s atmosphere and requires good foundations in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and computer science. Required undergraduate atmospheric sciences courses are combined with courses in other disciplines to develop an academic background that is appropriate for a variety of employment opportunities. Graduate students receive advanced training in the atmospheric sciences and usually perform research under the direction of a faculty advisor in specialty fields that include climate modeling, cloud modeling, mountain meteorology, numerical weather prediction, large-scale and mesoscale modeling, remote sensing, radiative transfer, synoptic meteorology, atmospheric chemistry, air pollution, and data assimilation.

Undergraduate Program

Please see the Atmospheric Sciences B.S., H.B.S. and Minor listed in the Program and Course Offerings section.

The atmospheric sciences curriculum at the University of Utah consists of science and engineering background courses as well as courses that provide a broad foundation of knowledge about the atmosphere. In addition, the program is intended to encourage the development of technical skills (e.g., writing, speaking, and computer) that will lead to productive careers in atmospheric sciences or other environmental fields. The undergraduate curriculum also provides the preparation required for advanced degrees in atmospheric science or related fields for those students intending to continue to graduate school.


To help students maintain high scholastic standards, the department has appointed an undergraduate advisor to consult with them about their academic progress. We recommend that students consult their advisor at least twice each year. Please send an email message to to schedule an appointment with an advisor.


Many scholarships or other forms of financial aid are available to undergraduate students. All students declared as atmospheric sciences majors as of February 1 will be considered for departmental scholarships for the following academic year. Contact the Department of Atmospheric Sciences for a scholarship application and information about deadlines. Applications for all other scholarships or financial aid should be made directly to the Office of Financial Aid or the University Scholarship Office.

Graduate Program

Please see the Atmospheric Sciences M.S. and Ph.D. listed in the Program and Course Offerings section.

Admission Requirements

Prospective graduate students are expected to have passed basic courses in math, physics, chemistry and computer science equivalent to those required for the B.S. These requirements include one year of calculus, one year of additional mathematics that includes ordinary and partial differential equations and linear algebra, one year of calculus-based physics, one semester of college chemistry, and a minimum of one semester of computer science. The combined G.P.A. of these courses should be 3.0 or higher.

Areas of Specialization

Faculty research areas include cloud and boundary layer modeling, tropical convection, hurricanes, cloud physics, atmospheric chemistry, air pollution, remote sensing of clouds and precipitation, regional climate, mountain meteorology and climate, numerical weather prediction, mesoscale modeling and data assimilation, and cloud parameterization in climate models.


All graduate students are evaluated during their first year for knowledge in the atmospheric sciences and their intended field of research through the core classes (ATMOS 6010: Fundamentals of Dynamic Meteorology, ATMOS 6020 Fundamentals of Physical Meteorology, ATMOS 6030: Climate Dynamics) and the preparation of a Research Prospectus, consisting of both written and oral components. Collectively, this evaluation is known as the Comprehensive Examination even though it is based on a combination of coursework and research activities during the first year. Satisfactory performance on the examination permits the student to pursue the thesis option for the M.S. degree. Outstanding performance on the examination permits the student to choose between: (1) direct admission into the Ph.D. program, or (2) the thesis option for the M.S. degree.

No later than two years after admission to the Ph.D. program, students must pass a Doctoral Qualifying Examination that is designed to test the student’s specific knowledge and ability in the focused area of their Ph.D. research. In general, the student will prepare a written dissertation research proposal that will be delivered to the Ph.D. Supervisory Committee for review a minimum of 14 calendar days before the exam date (by unanimous consent, the committee may elect to reduce this time period).  During the exam, a 30-45 minute oral presentation will be given by the student to the Supervisory Committee members. This presentation will be followed by a question-and-answer period.  In some cases, a supplemental written component of the Doctoral Qualifying Examination may also be administered. This is at the discretion of the Supervisory Committee members. This written component should be administered after the student has submitted the written formal proposal and before the oral portion of the Doctoral Qualifying Examination. Satisfactory performance on the examination permits the student to continue working toward the Ph.D. degree. Failure to successfully complete the examination within the specified time-frame may result in dismissal from the Ph.D. program. 

Financial Aid

As a result of the strong research programs in the Department, nearly all students are awarded a graduate research assistantship, which includes for qualified students, participation in the Graduate Tuition Benefit Plan and the Subsidized Graduate Student Health Insurance Plan. For requirements and policies on these two programs visit the Graduate School home page at Financial compensation for assistantships currently range from $25,500 to $27,500 per year.

Program and Course Offerings


    Undergraduate MajorMinorMasterDoctorate


      Atmospheric Sciences

      Return to College of Mines and Earth Sciences Return to: College of Mines and Earth Sciences