Graduate Program in Atmospheric Science
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Hydrologic Sciences
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Undergraduate Program in Meteorology
Department of Environmental Sciences
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (formerly Cook College)

Master of Science (M.S.) Degree Program Requirements

The Graduate Program in Atmospheric Science (GPAS) offers both thesis and non-thesis programs leading to a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Atmospheric Science. The thesis option requires a minimum of 24 course credits, 6 research credits, a thesis, and an oral examination on the thesis conducted by a committee of four associate members or members of the graduate program. The non-thesis option requires 30 course credits, an expository essay, and the M.S. Final Examination.

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Expository Essay

The purpose of the expository essay is to demonstrate the ability to conduct original or literature research. The student selects a subject acceptable to both a faculty member and the student, and under the supervision of the faculty member, the student undertakes independent study. At the conclusion of the independent study, the student presents the faculty member with a written paper, which the faculty member will evaluate for completeness, scientific accuracy, and research ability. A bound version of the paper will become part of the permanent archive of the Department Library. A Ph.D. dissertation prospectus will also satisfy this requirement.

Final Examination

Near the end of each semester, the GPAS will conduct a comprehensive examination. A passing score at the Master's level constitutes the Final Examination for the non-thesis M.S. degree. Students will typically take the comprehensive examination at the end of their second year of graduate work.

The Examination will be administered by the GPAS Curriculum Committee and will be the same for all students taking the exam each semester. It will cover topics taught in the Program's required core courses, and will test the student's basic knowledge of atmospheric science. Questions will be solicited from core-course instructors by the Curriculum Committee, who will review the questions and select five for the examination. Students will answer four of the five questions. The student's answers will be graded by the appropriate core-course instructors. The Curriculum Committee plus the GPAS Program Director will evaluate the combined results for all questions and will determine whether the student has demonstrated masters-level proficiency in the material. At least two members of the Curriculum Committee as well as the GPAS Director must approve the passing grade. If the student does not pass the Examination, the Curriculum Committee may elect to: (1) allow the student to repeat the examination the next time it is offered (once only), (2) issue a pass conditional on satisfactory completion of additional courses, or (3) terminate the students' enrollment in GPAS.

Master's Thesis

Students electing to pursue the thesis option of the M.S. degree will conduct original research and present this research both in a written thesis and in an oral presentation. The student and advisor will select a Thesis Committee consisting of three faculty in addition to the advisor: two from within and one from outside GPAS. The Thesis Committee will review the thesis, attend the oral defense, and conduct an oral examination after the oral defense. The Thesis Committee will determine whether the student's thesis fulfills the requirements for a master's degree.

Time Limit

All requirements for the M.S. degree must be completed within a five-year period. A full-time student can complete the M.S. degree in two years.