Atmospheric Science faculty and graduate students engage in a wide range of atmospheric research, with specializations that include climate variability, numerical modeling, atmospheric dynamics, mesoscale and synoptic meteorology, air-pollution meteorology, and data analytics. Our program is an excellent place for graduate study because of our research excellence, close collaboration between faculty and students, friendly environment, and open-door policy for questions.

The Atmospheric Science Ph.D. program is designed to equip students with the ability to conduct independent, cutting-edge research that advances our understanding of weather and climate. Students becomes adept at applying existing and developing novel theory and methods to generate this knowledge. They gain broad knowledge of fundamental tenets of the atmospheric sciences and advanced knowledge within their chosen research specialization. The Ph.D. program typically requires 3-4 years to complete for students entering with an M.S. in Atmospheric Science or a related discipline. Students are typically supported as either Research or Teaching Assistantships.

Though it can be intimidating to do so, we highly encourage all prospective graduate students to reach out to the faculty members who do research in the areas of greatest interest to you. This does not have to be very formal: an e-mail that introduces yourself and lets us know that you are interested in learning more about our graduate programs is a great starting point! Reaching out helps you get more information about our program, learn more about potential research opportunities, start to determine if one of us would be a good fit for you as a mentor, and ask any questions about the application process that you might have.

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.

Applicants are required to submit a Reason Statement. Statements are used to determine the appropriateness of your educational and professional goals and serves as an example of your ability to express yourself in writing. Your reason statement should include:

  1. your reasons for pursuing graduate study
  2. your specific background interests and background in the field
  3. any relevant skills or training you've acquired
  4. any academic awards or honors you have received
  5. the name(s) of faculty members with whom your research interests most closely align


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-one (21) 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-one (21) credits:

Select 9 credits at or above the ATM SCI or FRSHWTR 700-level9
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 Credits21

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.