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Our major has been designed to teach broad based knowledge in meteorology, oceanography, climate and air pollution. The degree satisfies the requirements for federal service positions as a meteorologist or oceanographer, and also follows the American Meteorological Society's statement on bachelor's degrees in Atmospheric Science. All majors complete a senior thesis based on undergraduate research opportunities.


Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at Maryland

There are many advantages to studying atmospheric and oceanic science at the University of Maryland, such as small class sizes, outstanding teachers and very talented classmates. Maryland is a large university, but we are a smaller community within it, so you get the advantages of the diversity of a large university with the close-knit relationships in a smaller department. We also believe that some of the most important science education occurs outside the classroom, and we require all of our majors to participate in cutting-edge research with our internationally recognized faculty or an internship or research project outside the department.

Through participation in research projects, our students learn what it takes to conduct world-class scientific research and decide whether they have the passion to pursue this career path. Whether you decide to continue to study atmospheric and oceanic science in graduate school or work in fields such as engineering, software development, law, business or education, a bachelor's degree in atmospheric and oceanic science from the University of Maryland provides an excellent foundation. Our very talented undergraduates have a passion for atmospheric and oceanic science that helps create a dynamic and collegial atmosphere in which to study, but they have a wide variety of interests and talents in many other areas, including music, sports, art and theater.

Information for New Students and Prospective AOSC Majors

  • Jobs Outlook - An undergraduate degree in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science has excellent job prospects. Find out more here!
  • Catalog Description - The description of the major as seen in the university course catalog.

Information for Current AOSC Majors

Information for New Students and Prospective Majors

In the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, students enjoy the benefits of a large research university and the supportive environment of a close-knit department. More than 35 renowned faculty and many are all performing exciting research in oceanography, meteorology, climate and air pollution. Small classes, mentoring faculty and an active student organization create a close, comfortable atmosphere for learning. And after graduation, our alumni explore careers in academia, government and private industry. Our unfair advantage in the Washington, D.C. area puts students close to potential jobs, internships, and future colleagues, as well as near the free museums, music, art, sports, outdoor sports and many other activities that come with being this close to our nation's capitol.

Jobs Outlook

The job outlook for students graduating with an undergraduate degree in atmospheric and oceanic science is quite good. One myth should be dispelled first: most of our graduates are not T.V. weather forecasters! Graduates from our department go on to hold positions in private industry, with the government at NASA, NOAA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture among others, in academics, at a reinsurance company, and yes, as an on-air meteorologist. Some jobs require only a bachelor's degree, while others will require some graduate education.

Our program is designed to serve students interested in obtaining a strong background in physical science with real world application to the atmosphere and oceans. One possible career direction is to fulfill the Federal GSA requirements for the positions of meteorologist and oceanographer and work as a science professional in this area. Another is teaching earth science at the high school level, for which there is strong demand. Many more possibilities exist, and students are encouraged to think creatively to find their own career path. The types of science jobs available are described in the online career guide maintained by the American Meteorological Society and include: video, audio, and print media; nonmedia weather forecasting (public, military, private, and aviation); specialized environmental services (e.g. air quality, water pollution) with State and Federal Agencies as well as private companies; and an increasing number of diverse applications of weather and climate information (agriculture, architecture, power industry, …). Other students may combine a major in atmospheric and oceanic science with other training in a complimentary field such as engineering, business, law, or health science.

National job placement statistics for the year 2008 are available from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS estimates the total employment of atmospheric scientists in 2008 to have been 9,400 and they project an above-average job growth of 15% over the next decade. The average salary for meteorologists working for the Federal government was $93,661 and somewhat higher for oceanographers. However a more cautious picture of the job market for undergraduate meteorologists and oceanographers was put forward by Professor John Knox, University of Georgia, at a national meeting of Department Chairs in 2008, emphasizing the need for a strong academic program.

University Catalog Description of the Major

Fundamental concepts from mathematics, chemistry, physics, and computer science are applied to understand the basic principles that control our weather and climate, from extreme events like tornadoes to the millennial changes of ice ages and the results of human modification of our environment. Coursework in the first two years emphasizes mastery of these fundamentals. Coursework in the last two years provides a comprehensive survey of atmospheric and oceanic science, while specialty courses and guided research allow the student to develop expertise in an area of concentration. The Department has particular strengths in computer modeling and remote sensing of the atmosphere and ocean, atmospheric chemistry, and climate studies. In addition to the Department, nearby research laboratories such as the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center offer the student many research opportunities.

Information for Current AOSC Majors

Undergraduate Research for AOSC Majors

Honors in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science

Each year, the AOSC Honors Program Committee will review the academic records of AOSC majors. Students with a minimum 3.00 overall GPA and a minimum 3.30 major GPA will be added to the AOSC Honors List. For students on the AOSC Honors list certain graduate courses are open. To receive a citation of "with honors in atmospheric and oceanic science" the student must:

  • Have earned a 3.00 or higher overall GPA and a 3.30 or higher GPA for all AOSC major required courses at graduation time
  • Pass two approved AOSC graduate level classes with a grade of B- or better.
  • Pass an Honors Oral Examination in his or her senior year.

To receive a citation of "with high honors in atmospheric and oceanic science" he or she must complete the requirements for honors and receive a high pass for the thesis.

Undergraduate Advising

To schedule an appointment, e-mail the undergraduate advisor at

Visit Us

Visit Maryland Day

On Visit Maryland Day, you and your family will have the opportunity to speak with faculty, meet current and new students, take tours of campus and learn more about Maryland's academic and student services.

Schedule a Tour

We highly recommend that you visit us when classes are in session and sit in on a class or two so that you can see the quality of our teaching for yourself. You can also meet our undergraduate advisor, our associate chair for undergraduate education, some of our current students and professors who would be happy to answer your questions about our program. Please contact us to make arrangements.

Contact Us

3417 Atlantic Building
Stadium Drive
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

Advising contact:

Undergraduate Faculty Directors and Coordinators

Dr. Tim Canty
Director, Undergraduate Program
(301) 405-5360

Admissions applications, department and university information, registration issues, tours, etc.:
Ms. Tammy Hendershot
Program Manager
(301) 405-5389