The changes in the curriculum reflect major developments in the atmospheric and oceanic sciences that have taken place since the previous curriculum was developed - in nature (e.g., climate change, the Antarctic ozone hole), technology (e.g., major advances in remote sensing, increases in computational power), and in the development of our scientific understanding. They also reflect the importance of Earth System Science (ESS) multidisciplinary studies of the interrelationship among the atmosphere, the oceans, the land, and the biota. These interactions have a profound effect on the dynamics and composition of atmosphere and the oceans. The new curriculum strengthens our role in major in programs such as the US Global Change Research Program and the US Climate Research Program, and takes good advantage of the strengths brought by the creation of the new Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) that links us with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, as well as our strong interactions with NOAA NESDIS and the National Weather Service.
In this curriculum we have defined three areas of study: dynamics of the ocean and atmosphere, physics and chemistry of the atmosphere, and climate and Earth System science. There is a strong need in the Federal Agencies as well as in the private sector for specialists in each of the three areas, and the background knowledge required is different for each of them. This modern curriculum has been praised in a June 15 2001 editorial in Science (vol. 292, p. 1965): Although a few pioneering individuals and institutions around the world recognize the need for the strong interdisciplinary work that defines ESS, in the main we lack the organizations to nurture this new discipline A mere handful of US and European institutions (including Penn State, the University of California at Irvine, the University of Maryland, the Danish Centre for Earth System Science, the Postdam Institute, and ETH in Zurich) offer graduate programs and the kind of interdisciplinary working environments that are essential for the rapid development of ESS.
The AOSC courses are structured into three areas: Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Oceans, Chemistry and Physics of the Atmosphere, and Climate and Earth Sciences. We recommend to the students that during their first year they take the six core courses that cover the basics of all three concentrations. At that point the Ph. D. program students can take the comprehensive exam. Students should choose the advanced courses in consultation with their advisor and the Graduate Director. Suggested elective courses for the three concentrations are listed below. Several of the elective courses are taught/offered every other year, depending on the number of students interested in taking them.
The Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science offers a non-thesis program leading to the Master of Science Degree. The requirements include course work, a scholarly paper, and a comprehensive examination.
A minimum of thirty semester hours in courses acceptable for credit toward a graduate degree is required for the degree program. Every student should take all six core courses. With the approval of the Graduate Director, the students academic advisor, and the Department Chair, a student may substitute 600 (Synoptic Meteorology) for 611 (Dynamics II) in unusual circumstances. In addition to the core courses (18 credits), students should take a minimum of 12 more credits (4 courses) from the electives. A maximum of 3 credits of AOSC 798 (Directed Graduate Research) is acceptable toward the degree. In addition to the 30 credits, MS students are required to write and present a scholarly paper, attend the Department seminar series and participate in the student seminar series.
The purpose of the scholarly paper is to demonstrate the ability to conduct original or literature research. The student selects a subject acceptable to both a faculty member and the student, and under the supervision of the faculty member, the student undertakes independent study. At the conclusion of the independent study, the student presents the faculty member with a written paper, which the faculty member will evaluate for completeness, scientific accuracy, and research ability. The student then presents the paper at a Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Seminar. A bound version of the paper will become part of the permanent archive of the Department Library. A Ph.D. dissertation prospectus will satisfy this requirement.
The Comprehensive Examination for the MS degree is a written examination. This written examination is composed of questions comprehensive consisting of questions of a general nature related to material taught in AOSC610, AOSC620, and AOSC617. Students will also be expected to complete AOSC611, AOSC621, and AOSC680 with a minimum grade of 3.0 (or to demonstrate mastery of this material). AOSC 611 can be replaced by AOSC 600 for those students with a specialization in Chemistry who get approval from their advisor, the AOSC Graduate Director, and Department Chair.
All requirements for the M.S. degree must be completed within a five-year period. This time limit applies to any transfer work from other institutions to be included in the student's program. A full-time student can complete the M.S. degree in two years.
All the students are required to attend the weekly department seminar series. Each semester a professor (or the seminar organizer) is listed as the course instructor. Students should sign in. Informal student seminars (about 20 minutes each) are held every other week. Students are expected to attend these seminars and once a year present a short seminar where they discuss their progress and ideas.
The Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science (AOSC) offers a Program leading to the Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Ph.D.) in AOSC. This program is designed to furnish the student with the education and research background necessary to carry out independent and original scientific research. In order to earn the Ph.D., the student must complete a course work requirement, pass the Candidacy Examinations, and prepare and defend a dissertation.
The course work requirement is a minimum of thirty semester hours in 600-level AOSC Department courses. In addition, the student must take 12 credits of AOSC 899 (Doctoral Dissertation Research). Every student should take all 6 core courses. With the approval of the Graduate Director, the student advisor, and the Department chair, a student may substitute 600 (Synoptic Meteorology) for 611 (Dynamics II) in unusual circumstances. In addition to the core courses (18 credits), students should take a minimum of 12 more credits (4 courses) from the electives. Some of the advanced courses may be taught only every second year. It is anticipated that students take elective courses chosen mostly from the concentration of choice. Students may petition the Department for a waiver of some course requirements based on credits earned at another institution at the graduate level.
A student seeking the Ph.D. degree in atmospheric and oceanic science must pass the Candidacy Examinations, which are divided into two parts - The Comprehensive Examination (described above, with its associated course requirements) and the Specialty Examination. The Specialty Examination consists of a brief (15 page, single spaced) dissertation prospectus together with an oral examination. The oral examination will be related to the student's research and can include questions of a general nature. Following successful completion of the Candidacy Examinations the student advances to Candidacy. Ability to perform independent research must be demonstrated by a written dissertation. The dissertation should be an original contribution to knowledge and demonstrate the ability to present the subject matter in a scholarly style. Upon completion of the dissertation the candidate is required to present the research results at an Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Department seminar and to defend the material to the satisfaction of a Final Examining Committee appointed by the Dean for Graduate Studies.
Full-time students are expected to complete the Candidacy Examinations by the end of the second year of graduate study. Students must be admitted to Candidacy within three years after admission to the doctoral program and at least six months before the date on which the degree will be conferred. The student must complete the entire program for the degree, including the dissertation and final examination, during a four-year period after admission to candidacy.
Graduate students with exceptional scientific achievements may, through written petition to the Graduate Director, replace the written portion of the Comprehensive Exam with a seminar followed by an oral examination. To qualify for this track, the candidate needs to meet the following requirements:
1) have an earned MS degree in atmospheric or oceanic science, or a related field, ordinarily from an accredited American university, and receive approval from the five-member Departmental Examination Committee. 2) have published at least five, peer-reviewed, Science Citation Index (SCI) journal articles in atmospheric, oceanic, or a closely related science. He or she must be the lead or corresponding author of at least three of those papers.
The candidate must present an open seminar on his/her past research followed by a closed oral exam by the Examination Committee of at least three faculty plus the Graduate Director, and the Admissions Committee Chair. Two or more negative votes constitutes failure. The final decision will be subject to review by the committee of the whole. The successful candidate will then have six months to complete the oral component of the Candidacy Examination for advancement to candidacy.
Full-time students can take the Comprehensive Examination by the end of the first year of graduate study, and are expected to complete it by the end of the second year of graduate study and be admitted to candidacy by the end of the third year. Students must be admitted to candidacy within five years after admission to the doctoral program and at least six months before the date on which the degree will be conferred. The student must complete the entire program for the degree, including the dissertation and final examination, during a four-year period after admission to candidacy.
All the students are required to attend the weekly department seminar series. Each semester a professor (or the seminar organizer) is listed as the course instructor. Students should sign in. Informal student seminars (about 20 minutes each) are held every other week. Students are expected to attend these seminars and once a year and present a short seminar where they discuss their progress and ideas.
Depending on the previous educational background and current research needs, students may consider taking one of the following three different course plans to meet the 30-credit degree requirements after consulting with their academic advisor:
i) Complete the core courses in 1 year
Enroll in AOSC 610, 620, 680, and 798 in the Fall; and
Enroll in AOSC 611, 621, 617, and 798 in the Spring.
Take two electives and one 798 in year two.
ii) Complete the core courses in 1.5 years
Enroll in AOSC 610, 620, 798 plus one elective in the Fall;
Enroll in AOSC 611, 617, 621, 798 in the Spring; and
Enroll AOSC 680 in the Fall of year two, plus two electives and one 798 in either the Fall or Spring of year two.
iii) Complete the core courses in 2 years
Enroll in AOSC 610, 620, 798, plus one elective in the Fall;
Enroll in AOSC 611, 617, 798 plus one elective in the Spring;
Enroll in AOSC 680 and one (or two) elective in the Fall of year two; and
Enroll in AOSC 621 and one (or no) elective in the Spring of year two;
plus one 798 in either the Fall or Spring of year two.
Two electives for Fall 2012 some students may consider taking are AOSC600 and AOSC652. NOTE: All first and second year students are required to attend the main AOSC Department seminars help on Thursdays, during the academic year. Attendance will be taken, and only 1-2 seminars can be missed per semester.
Students are encouraged to complete the core courses in one year, and take the written Comprehensive Exam after two semesters, with the current new Exam system. Please let your student(s) know that he/she has to pass AOSC 610, 620 and 617 before signing up for the written Exam. At the end of year two, students, who have passed the written Exam, are required to take the oral, which will be related to their research projects in addition to questions of a general nature. If a student is ready with the prospectus prior to the end of the second year, he/she may take the oral when deemed ready (in consultation with his/her advisor).