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Atmospheric Sciences Program


The major in Atmospheric Sciences addresses the needs of students interested in studying meteorology or climate science. The major requires 31 semester hours of course work in atmospheric and related sciences. A student must earn a minimum of a “C” in all major courses. (This grade requirement does not apply to prerequisite classes in MATH, PHYS, or CHEM.)  

There are currently no online course options for the Atmospheric Sciences major, but the program is continually evaluating the new opportunities in distance learning.

The coursework for the B.S. degree in atmospheric sciences can be broken down into 4 parts: 1) University requirements, 2) Franklin College requirements, 3) Core requirements, and the 4) requirements for the major itself (Area VI of the Core for the prerequisites, plus the major-specific classes).

Below is a word description of these requirements. If you are a visual learner and want to see how these requirements fit into a four-year plan, see the Four-Year Plan links under this Curriculum header. Transfer students should see the Two-Year Plan link.

1. University Requirements (

Every student at UGA must complete and pass 120 hours of courses (the 120 hours does not include the 1-hour PE course). Of these 120 hours, 39 hours must be "upper-division" courses, with course numbers starting with a 3 or a 4 (or higher).  These upper-division courses are usually, but don't have to be, in your major. The "39-hour rule" can sneak up on you, especially if you are a transfer student, so keep a careful eye on it.

The specific University requirements include some obvious/no-big-deal items, some that overlap with the Franklin College requirements, and at least one that overlaps with our ATSC major requirements:

Cumulative GPA: you need a grade point average of 2.00 or better to graduate.

Cultural Diversity: usually overlaps with the Franklin College multicultural requirement, can do both with one course.

Environmental Awareness: your first ATSC course should take care of this.

U.S. and Georgia Constitutions: if you take POLS 1101 or if you take both HIST 2111 and HIST 2112, these are satisfied, if you're in the state of Georgia. Out-of-state transfer students who take, say, POLS 1101 at an out-of-state university will not get credit for the Georgia constitution. If you don't want to take classes for this requirement, e.g. you're a transfer student trying to get finished, you can take exams to satisfy either or both constitution requirements. Note that if you do the exam and not the course(s), then you don't satisfy Franklin College or Core requirements that relate to social sciences.

U.S. and Georgia History: you can take either HIST 2111 or HIST 2112 to satisfy this requirement (again, you have to take the course at an institution in the state of Georgia to check the Georgia history box). Here again, you can test out of these requirements, but that makes sense only if you don't need history courses to satisfy Franklin College and Core requirements (see next section).

FYOS Seminar: all freshmen (but not transfer students) are required to choose one of a list of hundreds of 1-hour seminars.

Experiential LearningThis overlaps with the research/internship requirement for the ATSC major.

PE: Everyone has to do it, even intercollegiate athletes, because there is a theory component as well as an exercise component. Note that this 1-hour class does not count toward the 120 hours to graduate.

2. Franklin College Requirements (

Foreign language: 
Students have to be proficient at the third-semester level in a language (usually numbered 1001, 1002, 2001, so 2001 is the third semester). This isn't necessarily the same as taking three classes in a language. If you have had prior training in that language, e.g. in high school, then you are a good candidate for starting at an accelerated 1110 level, after which you take 2001. American Sign Language does satisfy this requirement; however, only foreign languages count toward the Area IV Core requirements, not ASL.  

Biological sciences: This is the typical biology class. It also satisfies Area II of the Core.

Physical sciences: You're majoring in a physical science, so you don't have to worry about this one.

Literature: This isn't English composition, but instead it's generally a 2000-level course from English or Comparative Literature. The all-purpose link to the Franklin College requirements gives more details. 

Social sciences (2): Students have to take two courses from two different departments that aren't history. If you take POLS 1101 for your Constitutions requirement for the University, it fits in here. They will also satisfy Area V Core requirements.

Fine arts/philosophy/religion (2): You take two courses from a long list of departments' courses. One of these courses will generally satisfy part of the Area IV Core requirement.

History: This is usually the same class as the one you use to satisfy the U.S. and Georgia history University requirement. It also usually counts toward Area V of the Core.

Multicultural: This is the quirkiest of the Franklin College requirements. Its name is kind of a misnomer, because it's not multicultural *anywhere*; it's multicultural *within the United States*. And this requirement, unlike all the other Franklin College requirements, can be combined with one of the other requirements above. So you can take one course in, say, African-American literature, and satisfy both the literature requirement and the multicultural requirement at once. Also note: our program has created its own multicultural course, ATSC 3135 Hidden Figures in the Atmospheric Sciences, which may be of interest to you.

Curriculum Life Hack: For those who want to satisfy the most requirements with the fewest number of courses, there is a strategy. You want to take courses that satisfy multiple requirements (University, Franklin College, and Core) at once. UGA advisors have a "Silver Bullet Courses" website that we use to find these courses:

3. Core Requirements (

The first five areas of the Core overlap a whole lot with University and Franklin College requirements. This is because we're in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, which means there's a lot of breadth already in your curriculum. Students in pre-professional colleges don't get as much breadth, and so the Core exists to fill in their educational gaps.

Area I: ENGL 1101, ENGL 1102, and a math class or exemption.

Area II: A biological sciences class and a physical sciences class, one of them with a lab (such as ATSC 1112+L).

Area III: One math-y class. You'll take plenty of them.

Area IV: 9 hours of either language or, if you place out of the 1001 language or take ASL, a world cultures class (e.g., GEOG 1101). There's also the 3-hour Humanities and the Arts requirement, but your Franklin College fine arts/philosophy/religion class will take care of that.

Area V: 9 hours of social sciences and history, of which 6 hours are often POLS 1101 and one of the U.S. histories.

Area VI: (17 hours):

Finally we've gotten to major-related requirements. There are some 'hidden' prerequisites to the stated requirements, and there is a little wiggle room as to which classes can satisfy the requirements. For the purposes of the major, your goal is to finish your requirements no later than the spring of your third year, preferably the fall of your third year if possible. Taking one or more of these classes during the summer, and/or at a college close to home, is quite common and not frowned upon.

  • CHEM: 1211+L is the "weed-out" intro chemistry class for pre-meds. A student-friendlier "front-end" to it was created called CHEM 1210, which does not have a separate lab. Both 1210 and 1211 cover the same material. If you are not into chemistry, 1210 is enough for what 95% of meteorologists need. If you love and excel at chemistry, then you may be interested in air quality or atmospheric chemistry, in which case go ahead and take 1211+L. 
  • MATH: you need to take calculus (three semesters) and differential equations, which are MATH 2250, 2260, 2270 or 2500, and 2700. (Do not take 2200, that's a dead-end calculus course.)  There is some flexibility with regard to Calculus III: there's a 4-credit version (2270) and a 3-credit version (2500). Sometimes the 3-credit MATH 2500 is preferable for scheduling purposes (because a 4-credit class meets more times and can conflict with other classes you want to take), or a better teacher, or both.
  • PHYS: you have to take two semesters of calculus-based physics. There are multiple versions of it: the first semester options are 1211+L, 1251, or 1311+L. PHYS 1211+L is the typical one; 1251 is a "studio physics" class with an embedded lab that is for engineers; and 1311+L is for honors students. Similarly, there's 1212+L, 1252, and 1312+L. In recent years we have had the most success in terms of scheduling and teachers with 1251 and 1252. Note: you don't want to start taking calculus-based physics until you've already taken at least one semester of calculus.
  • ATSC 1112+L: finally, an atmospheric sciences course! This is the "survey class" that gives you an overview of weather and climate, with a 1-hour lab that is taught by a graduate TA. The rest of your major classes are basically deeper dives into the subjects that are introduced in this first class. It's ok to take the lab in a later semester if, for example, there are no more seats in the labs when you register; but if there's a seat open, take 1112 and 1112L at the same time.



A. All students must complete 22 hours of non-elective requirements

Complete all of the following (13 hours):

ATSC(GEOG) 3120-3120L: Weather Analysis and Forecasting (3 hours, offered each fall semester) 

ATSC(ENGR)4111/6111: Atmospheric Thermodynamics (3 hours, offered each spring; has the most prerequisites) 

ATSC(GEOG) 4112/6112: Atmospheric Dynamics (3 hours, offered each fall) 

ATSC(ENGR)(PHYS) 4131/6131: Introductory Atmospheric Physics (3 hours, offered each spring; has the most prerequisites) 

ATSC 4910: Capstone in Atmospheric Sciences (1 hour, offered each fall)

One course in climatology (3 hours): 

ATSC(GEOG) 3110: Climatology (3 hours) 

GEOG(ATSC) 3180: Global Climate Change (3 hours) 

ATSC(GEOG) 4150: Physical Climatology (3 hours) 

ATSC(GEOG) 4160: Applied Climatology in the Urban Environment (3 hours) 

ATSC(ENGR)(GEOG) 4161/6161-4161L/6161L: Environmental Microclimatology (3 hours) 

Select one course in advanced atmospheric dynamics (3 hours):

ATSC 4114: Atmospheric Dynamics II (3 hours, taught in alternating springs)

ATSC 4116-4116L: Introduction to Data Assimilation (3 hours, taught in alternating springs)

Select one research or internship course (3 hours, often-but not always-in the summer):

ATSC 3990: Internship in Atmospheric Sciences (3 hours)

ATSC 4911: Collaborative Research in Atmospheric Sciences (3 hours, taught as needed)

ATSC 4960R, 4970R, 4980R, or 4990R: Undergraduate Research I, II, III and Undergraduate Thesis (variable-credit courses)

GEOG 3990: Internship in Geography (3 hours)

B. All students must complete 9 hours from the following electives

Students interested in meeting the federal civil service requirements for being a meteorologist (e.g., in the National Weather Service) should complete ATSC(GEOG) 4120, 4140 and 4170+L.

ATSC(GEOG) 3110: Climatology 

ATSC(GEOG) 3130: Atmospheric Hazards 

ATSC(GEOG)GEOG(ATSC) 3180: Global Climate Change: Causes and Consequences 

ATSC(GEOG) 4120/6120: Synoptic Meteorology/Climatology (taught each spring)

ATSC(GEOG) 4140/6140: Satellite Meteorology/Climatology (taught each fall)

ATSC(GEOG) 4150/6150: Physical Climatology 

ATSC(GEOG) 4160/6160: Applied Climatology in the Urban Environment 

ATSC(ENGR)(GEOG) 4161/6161-4161L/6161L: Environmental Microclimatology 

ATSC(GEOG) 4170/6170-4170L/6170L: Mesoscale and Radar 

Meteorology/Climatology (taught each spring)

ATSC(ENGR)(GEOG) 4180/6180: Special Topics in Atmospheric Sciences 

Also electives from other departments:

ENGR 3160: Fluid Mechanics 

ENGR 3410: Introduction to Natural Resource Engineering 

ENVE 4460/6460: Groundwater Hydrology for Engineers 

GEOL 4220/6220: Hydrogeology 

WASR(FORS) 4110/6110-4110L/6110L: Forest Hydrology 

WASR 4500/6500: Quantitative Methods in Hydrology 

Classes that haven't been added into the Degreeworks system for the major:

ATSC 3135: Hidden Figures in the Atmospheric Sciences (3 hours, elective credit and satisfies FC Multicultural requirement)

ATSC 4100: Programming for Atmospheric Scientists (3 hours, elective credit)

ATSC 4155: Hydrometeorology (3 hours, elective credit or can fulfill climatology requirement)

ATSC 4121: Weather Forecasting Seminar (1 hour in fall, 2 hours in spring, repeatable for max of 9 credits; not generally used as elective credit, but does count toward the 39-hour rule for upper-division coursework)

Student Organizations: UGA Student Chapter of the American Meteorological 

Society (AMS) 

GUSTO (Geography Undergraduate Student Organization) 

UGA student chapter of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing

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