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Major in Atmospheric Sciences

The University of Georgia's new Atmospheric Sciences major addresses the needs of students interested in studying meteorology or climate science.

The UGA Atmospheric Sciences Program offers a new undergraduate major (B.S.) in Atmospheric Sciences effective Spring 2017 as well as a graduate certificate in Atmospheric Sciences. The undergraduate major can easily be completed with a double major in Geography.

The major will replace the Undergraduate Certificate in Atmospheric Sciences, which has been in place since 2000. If you have questions about transitioning from the certificate to a major, please contact the Atmospheric Sciences major undergraduate coordinator, Dr. John Knox ( 

With the appropriate selection of electives, the major meets the federal civil service requirements for employment as a meteorologist and the American Meteorological Society recommended curriculum. Former students now work in several fields, including operational meteorology, broadcast meteorology, environmental consulting, emergency management, and the energy industry. 

Undergraduate Requirements (30 hours)

The major in Atmospheric Sciences addresses the needs of students interested in studying meteorology or climate science. The major requires 30 semester hours of course work in atmospheric and related sciences. A student must earn a minimum of a “C” in all major courses. (The grade requirement does not apply to prerequisites.) Contact the Atmospheric Sciences major undergraduate coordinator, Dr. John Knox (, for more information. 

Core Courses

Area III Preference

CSCI 1301-1301L: Introduction to Computing and Programming (4 hours)

Area V Preference

GEOG 1101: Human Geography: People, Places, and Cultures (3 hours)

Area VI Requirements (18 hours)

CHEM 1211: Freshman Chemistry I (3 hours)

GEOG(ATSC) 1112, GEOG(ATSC) 1112L: Introduction to Weather and Climate /w Lab (4 hours)

MATH 2270: Calculus III for Science and Engineering (4 hours)

MATH 2700: Elementary Differential Equations (3 hours)

PHYS 1212-1212L: Principles of Physics for Scientists and Engineers-Electricity and Magnetism, Optics, Modern Physics (4 hours)

Major Requirements (30 hours)

A. All students must complete 21 hours of core requirements in the major

Complete all of the following (12 hours)

ATSC(GEOG) 3120-3120L: Weather Analysis and Forecasting (3 hours)

ATSC(ENGR)4111/6111-4111L/6111L: Atmospheric Thermodynamics (3 hours)

ATSC(GEOG) 4112/6112: Atmospheric Dynamics (3 hours)

ATSC(ENGR)(PHYS) 4131/6131-4131L/6131L: Introductory Atmospheric Physics (3 hours)

One course in climatology (3 hours)

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

Select one course in advanced atmospheric dynamics (3 hours)

ATSC 4114: Atmospheric Dynamics II (3 hours)

ATSC 4116-4116L: Introduction to Data Assimilation (3 hours)

Select one research or internship course (3 hours)

ATSC 4911: Collaborative Research in Atmospheric Sciences (3 hours)

ATSC 3990: Internship in Atmospheric Sciences (3 hours)

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

Students interested in meeting the federal civil service requirements 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

ATSC(GEOG) 4140/6140: Satellite Meteorology/Climatology

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

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

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

Required Prerequisites

The following list of courses includes prerequisites for courses within major. These prerequisites do not apply to all courses within the major. It is not necessary for a student to complete all of the prerequisites before enrolling in courses within the major. Students often complete a few remaining prerequisites, such as chemistry and computer science, in their junior and senior years. Please note that a number of prerequisite courses must be completed prior to or coincident with enrollment in several of the required certificate courses, particularly ENGR 4111, ENGR 4131, ATSC 4112, and ATSC 4114 (or 4116).


MATH 2250, 2260, 2500 2270 and 2700

PHYS 1211/L and 1212/L (PHYS 1111/L and 1112/L are not acceptable)

CSCI 1301/L

CHEM 1211

Career Opportunities

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS): “Employment of atmospheric scientists is projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. The best job prospects for atmospheric scientists will be in private industry.”-- The average salary for meteorologists in Georgia outpaces the nationwide average by 9% ( Local and regional employers like Delta Airlines, Southern Company, Panasonic, and Coca Cola employ meteorologists and atmospheric scientists. The private sector represents an area of significant growth in this field and the state of Georgia will need to keep pace. From 2002-2012, the annual number of new B.S. degree recipients in atmospheric sciences grew 40% according to the U.S. Department of Education, in line with a 44% growth in jobs in the field over the same period according to the BLS. As BLS notes, there is significant growth opportunity in the private sector (airlines, consulting, reinsurance, air quality, agriculture, media, digital media, etc.). Additionally, because it is recommended that our students also attain the Geography degree, our students are trained with broad skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and social sciences. The Association of American Geographers (AAG) recently reported that median salaries and job growth for geography continue to outpace the average in other disciplines.

Though a small (but visible) part of the job market in meteorology, the broadcast sector is changing rapidly. The UGA Atmospheric Sciences Program faculty met with the CEO and senior executives at the Weather Channel. They overwhelmingly stated that the emerging market in broadcast is digital meteorology and that future meteorologists will require atmospheric sciences that they have seen in the current group of UGA graduates and interns now at The Weather Channel, which is based in Georgia. Similar needs have been expressed by CNN as well as local television stations. Recent partnerships with The Weather Channel, the Atmospheric Sciences Program, and the Grady College of Journalism are addressing the looming challenges, but meteorology students must be equipped with the proper degree credentials to avoid perception issues with a Certificate.

In the federal sector, the National Weather Service (NWS)’s Weather Ready Nation is “building community resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather and water events.” NWS managers are increasingly asking for a new generation of atmospheric scientists versed in meteorology, GIS, social sciences, and communication. Our program has also experienced increased interest from the U.S. Forest Service (Athens), Department of Energy (Augusta), and FEMA (Atlanta). Such agencies have emerging needs for broadly trained atmospheric scientists or meteorologists with cross-disciplinary perspectives.

Expectations of Transfer Students

Transfer students intending to enter the Atmospheric Sciences major should complete Areas I-VI of the core curriculum. Preferred courses in Areas II, III, and V are listed under Program Requirements (B.S.), as are Area VI requirements.


Internships are critical part of the Atmospheric Sciences major and for the development of skills required within the meteorological or atmospheric sciences enterprise. The major requires the following:

Select one research or internship course (3 hours):

ATSC 4911: Collaborative Research in Atmospheric Sciences (3 hours)

ATSC 3990: Internship in Atmospheric Sciences (3 hours)

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