The graduate program in atmospheric science offers courses of study leading to the master of science (M.S.) and doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees. Atmospheric science is a relatively broad discipline that involves the diagnosis and prediction of atmospheric processes, including climate change, atmospheric radiation, large-scale weather systems, severe storms, and air-sea interactions. The program faculty conducts research on each of these topics, with a particular focus on developing an integrated understanding of climate dynamics, including climate processes from global to regional scales and climate-chemistry-aerosol interactions. Basic and applied research problems are addressed through observation, modeling, and applications. The program is associated with the Center for Environmental Prediction, which facilitates interdisciplinary research, education, and outreach in environmental modeling and includes faculty from the departments of environmental sciences, geography, geological sciences, and marine science. The program is also associated with the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist, which collects and archives climate data, conducts research pertaining to New Jersey climate, and provides climate education and information to the citizens of New Jersey.
Any prospective student with a bachelor's degree or higher in a mathematical or scientific discipline is a candidate for the program. Previous education in atmospheric sciences is not required for acceptance. Beginning students are required to have taken calculus through differential equations (usually four semesters) and two semesters of physics for the sciences (including laboratory). Students are also expected to be competent in computer programming in one or more high-level programming languages.
The M.S. degree with thesis (Plan A) 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 M.S. nonthesis option (Plan B) requires 30 course credits, an expository essay, and the M.S. final examination.
For the Ph.D. degree, students must complete at least 30 course credits and 24 research credits. Eighteen additional credits must also be taken in either course credits or research credits (for a total of at least 72 credits). The Ph.D. qualifying examination must be passed before admission to candidacy, and completion and successful public defense of a thesis (dissertation) are also required.
A comprehensive examination, based on required coursework, will serve as the final examination for a nonthesis M.S. and the first part of the qualifying examination for the Ph.D. The second part will consist of a dissertation proposal, which will be defended before the student's Ph.D. committee, to consist of three associate or regular members of the graduate program and an external member. Upon having the dissertation proposal approved, the student will be admitted to Ph.D. candidacy.