Brief Description of our Department
An overview of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science.


The University of Maryland is a land-grant university, originating in 1807. The entire University system includes about 2,600 faculty members and 9,000 graduate students. The College Park campus, where the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science is located, is the system's flagship institution and is undergoing a period of sustained growth. The 2010 report of the National Research Council indicated that our department is in the top 10 in the country for Geosciences, and is the highest ranked program on the entire East Coast.

Programs of Study

The Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, part of the Earth Sciences Program that includes the collocated Earth System Sciences Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), offers graduate degrees in atmospheric and oceanic sciences, and climate and earth sciences. Our curriculum allows each student a choice of one of three areas of concentration (Dynamics of the Atmosphere and Oceans, Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, and Climate and Earth Sciences), with 6 core courses and about 20 elective courses. Most students devote their first year to the core courses, covering the three areas, and take a comprehensive exam during the second year. The Master degree program generally takes two years to complete, and the Ph. D program about 5 years.

The Department is particularly strong in Atmospheric Chemistry and Air Pollution, Mesoscale to Global Numerical Weather Prediction, Data Assimilation, Earth Sciences and Climate, Physical Oceanography, Remote Sensing, and Dynamics with Predictability. These strengths are reinforced by strong collaborations leading to joint research topics with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Maryland Departments of the Environment and of National Resources, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) of the National Weather Service, the NOAA Satellite (NESDIS) and Air Research Laboratories, all of which are located near the campus. Interdisciplinary programs with the Departments of Geology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Computer Sciences, Geography, the Marine-Estuarine Environmental Science, and Hydrology (within the School of Engineering) are also encouraged. The Department has two members of the National Academy of Engineering and a member of the Academia Europaea.

Research Facilities

Students and faculty members in the department enjoy access to extensive research facilities. The department operates a network of workstations and PCs, with access to both local (such an 32 node IBM SP2) and remotely accessed supercomputers, allowing state-of-the-art computing and interactive graphics. Real-time 4-km mesoscale forecasts for the region are routinely generated. The Department has an instrumented weather station and is a NOAA cooperative observing station. For air chemistry, surface sites and local flights in an instrumented research aircraft provide data on the composition and chemistry of gaseous and particulate pollution as well as the role of long-range transport. The local office of the state climatologist provides an extensive data collection and research opportunities. In addition, the students enjoy access to the nearby national facilities such as Goddard, NCEP and NESDIS, together with their libraries.

Financial Aid

Most of the students in the Department are supported by Graduate Research Assistantships. The Department also nominates exceptionally qualified incoming students for prestigious University fellowships. In addition to the stipends given to research assistants and fellows (about $25,000 in 2010) the assistantships cover the full cost of tuition and medical care. There are part-time jobs available for students in the nearby national facilities and agencies.

Cost of Study

Current tuition rates can be found here . Again, students with research or teaching assistantships do not pay tuition.

Living and Housing

A limited amount of space in University dormitories and apartments is available to students attending University of Maryland, College Park. Apartments off campus are plentiful; rent decreases dramatically with distance from downtown Washington. For information on available hotels for visitors in the area, check out this page.

Student Group

There are currently 70 graduate students, and about 80% are engaged in doctoral programs. The AOSC Graduate Students are a diverse group that comes from all parts of the world from various backgrounds. All of our graduates obtained jobs in our field.


Situated in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., the University is in an ideal location for interaction with the large scientific community in the area (NOAA, NASA, NIST, NRL). Nearby Washington (the White House is less than 10 miles away) offers a truly international atmosphere and a rich variety of cultural and recreational opportunities, such as the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian Institution. The University lies between the Blue Ridge Mountains (about 50 miles, or 80 kilometers, to the west) and Chesapeake Bay (about 35 miles or 55 kilometers, to the east). Summers are warm and sometimes humid, and the winters are mild; especially pleasant weather prevails in the spring and fall.


Applications can be obtained by visiting our Graduate Admissions page. The Department requires at least a bachelor's degree in meteorology, oceanography, physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, or another program that emphasizes the physical and mathematical sciences. Previous education in meteorology is favorably considered but not required. The application deadlines for the fall semester are May 15 for American students and February 1 for international students. American students applying for financial aid should submit applications by the deadlines for international students.

Correspondence and Information

Chair, Admissions Committee
Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science
University of Maryland, College Park
College Park, Maryland 20742-2425
Telephone: 301-405-5391
E-mail: study at