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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Professional M.S. Curriculum

The Master of Science Professional Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences prepares you for variety careers in forecasting, modeling, risk management, air quality, and climate science, and communication. All classes are taught in person at UW-Madison by our award-winning faculty. With full-time enrollment, the 30 credit course sequence can be finished in 12 months. Part-time enrollment is allowed. The summer course focused on professional development is taught online, which allows you to conduct your summer internship anywhere in the world.

Course sequence consists of a set of FUNDAMENTAL core classes, TECHNICAL training, completion of an APPLICATION track, and PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, which includes the summer internship. These are detailed below.


Fundamental courses cover the core theoretical basis of our field. Take 9 credits of:

Course Title Credits
ATM OCN 610 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics I 3
ATM OCN 611 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics II 3
ATM OCN 630 Introduction to Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics 3
ATM OCN 640 Radiation in the Atmosphere and Ocean 3
ATM OCN 660 Introduction to Physical Oceanography 3


Technical courses allow you to develop skills necessary to be successful in atmospheric science careers. Take at least 6 credits of:

Course Title Credits
ATM OCN 404 Meteorological Measurements 3
ATM OCN 573 Computational Methods in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences 3
ATM OCN 575 Climatological Analysis 4
R M I 650 Sustainability, Environmental and Social Risk Management 3
R M I 700 Principles of Risk Management 3


Application tracks allow you to specialize and do a deep dive into pathway of interest. Take 9 credits of these.

Pick a specialty option and AT LEAST TWO courses from for the specialty based on availability and interest, and AT LEAST ONE course either from the same specialty or another specialty. At least 6 of these credits must be ATM OCN.

Climate Change, Risk Management, and Communication

Course Title Credits
ATM OCN/ENVIR ST/GEOG 332 Global Warming Science and Impacts 3
ATM OCN 425 Global Climate Processes 3
ATM OCN/ENVIR ST 520 Bioclimatology 3
ATM OCN 522 Tropical Meteorology 3
ATM OCN/ENVIR ST/GEOG 528 Past Climates and Climatic Change 3
ATM OCN 705 The Middle Atmosphere 3
ATM OCN 712 General Circulation of the Atmosphere 3
ATM OCN 760 Large-Scale Ocean-Atmosphere Coupling 3

Satellite Meteorology

Course Title Credits
ATM OCN 441 Radar and Satellite Meteorology 3
ATM OCN 637 Cloud Physics 3
ATM OCN 740 Advanced Atmospheric Radiation 3
ATM OCN/ENVIR ST 745 Meteorological Satellite Applications 2-3
ENVIR ST/CIV ENGR/LAND ARC 556 Remote Sensing Digital Image Processing 3

Air Quality Science and Regulation

Course Title Credits
ATM OCN/ENVIR ST 355 Introduction to Air Quality 3
CIV ENGR/G L E 511 Mixing and Transport in the Environment 3
ATM OCN/ENVIR ST 535 Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Pollution 3
ATM OCN 638 Atmospheric Chemistry 3
ATM OCN/CIV ENGR 701 The Chemistry of Air Pollution 2
ATM OCN 773 Boundary Layer Meteorology 3
ENVIR ST/POP HLTH 502 Air Pollution and Human Health 3

Forecasting and Modeling

Course Title Credits
ATM OCN 610 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics I 3
ATM OCN 751 The Frontal Cyclone 3
ATM OCN 753 Mesoscale Meteorology 3
ATM OCN 801 Topics in Theoretical Meteorology 2-3


Once you master the skills and background in Atmospheric Science, you are ready to partake in hands-on internship practice. During the year, you will take 1 credit each semester and summer in AOS 999, attending seminars and meetings focused on our discipline and careers. In the summer after completing the course sequence, sign up for online classes ATM OCN 810 (May-Jun) and 811 (Jun-Aug) while conducting an internship of your choosing.

Course Title Credits
ATM OCN 810 Practical Training in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences I 1
ATM OCN 811 Practical Training in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences II 2
ATM OCN 999 Advanced Independent Study 3
  1. ATM OCN 810 and 811 require a supervised 6-8 hour/week internship during the summer after completion of other course requirements. This course is taken in conjunction with 1 credit of ATM OCN 999. Placement in internship is made during the spring semester with support from the program coordinator. See program policies for more details.
  2. ATM OCN 999 credit earned through 1-2 hours per week attendance and reporting on: weekly meeting with program coordinator, participation in Graduate School professional development workshops, attendance at research seminars or lab meetings, participation at professional conferences. Write up on activities required each semester. ATM OCN 999 is taken for one credit in each of fall, spring, and summer session. Summer session ATM OCN 999 can be taken remotely if internship placement is off-campus.

Additional requirements

  1. ATM OCN 610 can count in APPLICATION if not used to count for FUNDAMENTALS requirement.
  2. At the end of the spring semester, all students are expected to have secured a paid or unpaid internship with a minimum of 6-8 hours per week of expected work for at least 10-12 weeks. The internship, occurring in conjunction with online classes ATM OCN 810, 811, and 999, can include placement in a private company, public sector agency or lab, university setting, on or off campus, based on student interest, availability, and program coordinator/faculty director approval. It is the responsibility of both the student and the program coordinator to assist in this match. In case the student is unable to secure an internship or seeks a more entrepreneurial approach, the student can propose an alternate in lieu of internship. The alternative must still meet minimum hour and length requirements, but may include independent business start-up planning, direct consulting with faculty, or other creative approaches. The alternative must have a direct mentor or supervisor identified and requires approval of the program director.
  3. UW-Madison undergraduates: With program approval, up to 7 credits numbered 300 or above may be counted toward the degree. These credits may also be counted toward the minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement if they are in courses numbered 700 or above. No credits may be counted toward the minimum graduate residence credit requirement. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.
  4. Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements.