The UWM Atmospheric Science Program is a group of scholars who engage in a wide array of distinguished, societally-relevant research currently supported by over $3 million in external funding. Their specializations include climate variability, cloud physics and numerical modeling, atmospheric dynamics, mesoscale and synoptic meteorology, air pollution meteorology, and data analytics. The Atmospheric Science graduate programs are focused on student-led research under the direction of one or more faculty advisors.

Over its twenty-plus years of existence, the program has a history of innovation in both education and research, with the Innovative Weather program and first-of-its-kind “Air Pollution and Ancient Cultures” faculty-led study abroad course being two representative examples of innovative educational opportunities. Students graduating from the program have a long history of acquiring gainful employment with top-tier public and private sector institutions in Wisconsin and beyond.

Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


Students seeking admission to the PhD in Atmospheric Science degree program must meet all UWM Graduate School requirements. An earned Master of Science degree is not a prerequisite for admission; however, it is expected that most applicants will have an earned master of science degree in atmospheric science or a closely-related discipline.

Entering students without an earned master of science degree should have a general background in both physics and mathematics, including calculus and ordinary differential equations. Students who lack this background may be admitted if the deficiencies amount to no more than two courses, and deficiencies must be made up within three enrolled semesters of graduate study.


Submission of scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Credits and Courses

Students enrolled in the PhD in Atmospheric Science program must complete a total of fifty-four (54) graduate credits beyond the bachelor’s degree with at least twenty-seven (27) earned in residence at UWM. Students receiving financial support from the School of Freshwater Sciences must enroll in a minimum of fifteen (15) credits offered by the School during each academic year. As part of their 54 credits, students admitted directly to the PhD program without an earned Master of Science in Atmospheric Science must complete the following twenty-four (24) credits:

Select 12 credits at or above the ATM SCI 700-level12
Select 6 credits in approved graduate elective courses6
Select one of the following:6
Advanced Engineering Mathematics I
and Advanced Engineering Mathematics II
Statistical Methods in Atmospheric Sciences
and Statistical Methods in Atmospheric Sciences II: Signal Detection
Total Credits24

Students admitted to the PhD program with an earned Master of Science in Atmospheric Science from UWM or elsewhere have fulfilled these requirements. In consultation with their major professor, students are expected to identify additional graduate courses that benefit their research or professional development. It is expected that most students will elect to supplement their formal Atmospheric Science coursework with formal coursework from other curricular areas. With the approval of the student’s major professor, any graduate-level course at UWM may fulfill degree requirements. Assuming an earned MS degree, a typical PhD student’s curriculum will consist of twelve credits of formal graduate coursework, at least half of which will be completed at the 700-level or above; three credits of ATM SCI 999; and nine to twelve credits of ATM SCI 998.

Master's degree/pre-doctoral coursework30
Formal graduate coursework, at least half of which will be completed at the 700-level or above12
Additional approved courses, including 9-12 credits of ATM SCI 99812
Total Credits54

Courses in Atmospheric Science that may be taken for graduate credit are listed below.

ATM SCI 330Air-Pollution Meteorology3
ATM SCI 350Atmospheric Thermodynamics3
ATM SCI 351Dynamic Meteorology I3
ATM SCI 352Dynamic Meteorology II3
ATM SCI 360Synoptic Meteorology I4
ATM SCI 361Synoptic Meteorology II4
ATM SCI 460Mesoscale Circulations3
ATM SCI 464Physical Meteorology: Cloud Physics3
ATM SCI 470Tropical Meteorology3
ATM SCI 480The General Circulation and Climate Dynamics3
ATM SCI 497Study Abroad: (subtitled)3
ATM SCI 500Statistical Methods in Atmospheric Sciences3
ATM SCI 505Micrometeorology3
ATM SCI 511Seminar in Atmospheric Radiation and Remote Sensing3
ATM SCI 600Data Analytics3
ATM SCI 690Seminar in Atmospheric Sciences:3
ATM SCI 700Statistical Methods in Atmospheric Sciences II: Signal Detection3
ATM SCI 705Air Pollution Modeling3
ATM SCI 711Cloud Dynamics3
ATM SCI 730Numerical Weather Prediction3
ATM SCI 750Nonlinear Time Series Analysis3
ATM SCI 761Advanced Synoptic/Mesoscale Meteorology3
ATM SCI 950Seminar on Topics in Atmospheric Sciences:3
ATM SCI 990Master's Thesis1-8
ATM SCI 997Doctoral Externship1-12
ATM SCI 998Doctoral Dissertation1-12
ATM SCI 999Advanced Independent Reading1-4

Additional Requirements

Major Professor as Advisor

The student must have a major professor to advise and supervise the student’s studies as specified in Graduate School regulations.

Preliminary Examination

To qualify for dissertator status, students must successfully pass a preliminary examination in Atmospheric Science, focusing on three sub-disciplines of the field, and complete a dissertation proposal hearing. With approval of their major professor, students may elect to substitute an area of mathematics for one of the three Atmospheric Science sub-disciplines on the preliminary examination. The preliminary examination must be attempted prior to the start of the third year of study, and students who fail the examination are permitted one retake. The preliminary examination and dissertation proposal hearing must both be completed no later than the end of the fourth year of study.


To receive the degree, students, under the direction of a major professor and supervision of a five-member evaluation committee, must complete and successfully defend a dissertation representing an original contribution to the field of sufficient caliber for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The evaluation committee is to be comprised of four Atmospheric Science graduate faculty members and one member external to the program.

Time Limit

Entering full-time students with an earned Master of Science degree are expected to complete all degree requirements within three to four years of first enrollment. Entering full-time students without an earned Master of Science degree are expected to complete all degree requirements within five to six years of first enrollment. All degree requirements must be completed within ten years of first enrollment, consistent with UWM’s campus-wide policy.