Interested in weather and climate? As an Atmospheric Science major, you’ll study short-term weather and long-term climate patterns involving activities such as weather forecasting and meteorology, climate projections, air quality modeling, data analysis, and basic and applied research.
Our program prepares you to work in the public or private sector, or to continue your studies at the graduate level — and it fulfills the United States government’s requirements to be employed as a meteorologist by the National Weather Service or another federal agency.
What Do Atmospheric Scientists Do?
Atmospheric scientists work in many roles, with the strongest job prospects being in the private sector. Nearly 36% work in the private sector; 33% for governmental agencies, including the National Weather Service; 24% at educational institutions or laboratories; and 7% in the media.
- Weather forecasting
- Climate consulting
- Applied/fundamental research
- Risk assessment
- Resource allocation
- Emergency management
- Broadcast meteorologist
- Commodity trader/analyst
A degree in atmospheric science gives you a solid foundation in weather and climate fundamentals and prepares you for a wide variety of jobs.
Choose the concentration most suited to your desired career path: Broadcasting, Climate and Environmental Science, Foundational or Operational Meteorology. You may also design your own concentrations from our list of approved electives. This is a great option for students interested in pairing their Atmospheric Science major with specialized training in hydrology, water resources, science policy, economics, data analytics, geographic information systems and other related fields.
Are you interested working in traditional or digital media? Our broadcasting concentration may be right for you! This concentration provides you with an excellent foundational education that meets all requirements for the American Meteorological Society’s Certified Broadcast Meteorologist program and media training as part of a minor in Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies! Students following this concentration complete the following elective courses:
An increasing number of jobs related to climate in research are available with state and federal governments, as well as with non-governmental organizations. Through our climate and environmental science concentration, you’ll learn what drives our climate, how it is changing and how those changes impact society. Students following this concentration complete the following elective courses:
Are graduate school and a research-focused career for you? Our foundational concentration includes courses in data science and math that will equip you with the necessary skills to succeed as a weather and climate researcher. Students following this concentration complete the following elective courses:
Are you interested in working for the National Weather Service or a private-sector forecasting company? Our operational meteorology concentration provides you with the skills you’ll need to succeed in the modern operational weather forecasting workforce. Students following this concentration complete the following elective courses:
Declare Your Major
We recommend that you declare your major as early as possible, but at the latest before you have earned 75 credits. This is particularly important because you’ll be taking Atmospheric Science courses beginning as a freshman.
Undergraduates gain a solid foundation in math, physics and chemistry, which form the basis of meteorology, and they learn about climate change and the consequences of weather and climate to society.
Students must earn a minimum of 120 credits to complete the BS in Atmospheric Science degree. All students must complete UWM’s General Education Requirements. Atmospheric Science majors fulfill the Quantitative Literacy and Natural Sciences distribution requirements as part of the major.
To earn a BS, students must complete a total of 73 credits of preparatory coursework in mathematics, chemistry, physics and computer science; core courses and electives. At least 15 upper-division (numbered 300 and above) credits in the Atmospheric Sciences program must be taken at UWM. Students must attain at least a 2.0 GPA on all credits in the major attempted at UWM or in any transfer work.
Among our major-level course offerings, we offer three courses once per year: Atm Sci 101 (fall), Atm Sci 240 (spring), and Atm Sci 250 (spring). Other major-level courses are typically offered once every two years. Students are encouraged to speak with their advisor or check the Academic Catalog regarding specific course availability each semester.
Customize your major by choosing 15 or more elective credits from across the atmospheric and related sciences, tailored to climate and environmental science, weather forecasting, broadcast meteorology or foundations in the atmospheric sciences.
Honors in the Major
Students in Atmospheric Science who meet all of the following criteria can be awarded honors in the major upon graduation:
- A 3.0 cumulative GPA in all UWM graded credits.
- A 3.5 GPA over all UWM courses counting toward the Atmospheric Sciences major.
- A 3.5 GPA over all upper division UWM courses counting toward the Atmospheric Science major.
- Successful completion of at least two semesters of research and/or internship experiences. These experiences can include one or more of the capstone experience (Atm Sci 599), a directed independent study for credit (Atm Sci 699), an internship for credit (Atm Sci 695), the Atmospheric Sciences Study Abroad course (Atm Sci 297/497), or paid undergraduate research.
No formal application for honors in the major is necessary.
This sample four-year plan shows one pathway to earning an Atmospheric Science B.S. degree in four years. We encourage you to meet regularly with your advisor to personalize this plan to match your circumstances and interests.
This sample plan assumes that you placed into college-level English and precalculus, but did not complete any foreign-language classes in high school. Portions of this plan can be accelerated if you placed into Math 231 or higher; conversely, some reordering of the math and physics courses is necessary if you placed into Math 98/108 or Math 105.
To clarify any requirements, please contact the Atmospheric Science Program Chair.
|ATM SCI 101|
Introductory Atmospheric Science Seminar
General Chemistry (NS+)
Introduction to College Writing
|Social Sciences/Cultural Diversity GER||3|
|ATM SCI 100|
Survey of Meteorology (NS+)
Calculus and Analytic Geometry I (QL-B)
College Writing and Research (OWC-A)
Calculus and Analytic Geometry II
Physics I (Calculus Treatment) (NS+)
Lab Physics I (Calculus Treatment)
|Oral and Written Communication Part B (OWC-B)||3|
Introductory Programming Using Python
|ATM SCI 240|
Introduction to Meteorology (NS)
|ATM SCI 250|
Introduction to Climate Science (NS)
Calculus and Analytic Geometry III
Physics II (Calculus Treatment) (NS)
|ATM SCI 351|
Dynamic Meteorology I (NS)
|ATM SCI 360|
Synoptic Meteorology I (NS)
|ATM SCI 600|
Linear Algebra and Differential Equations
Matrices and Applications
|ATM SCI 352|
Dynamic Meteorology II (NS)
|ATM SCI 361|
Synoptic Meteorology II (NS)
|Atm Sci Elective||3|
|Social Sciences GER||3|
|ATM SCI 330|
Air-Pollution Meteorology (NS)
|ATM SCI 350|
Atmospheric Thermodynamics (NS)
|Atm Sci Elective||3|
Introduction to Differential Equations
|1st Semester Foreign Language||3-5|
|ATM SCI 464|
Physical Meteorology: Cloud Physics (NS)
|ATM SCI 511|
Seminar in Atmospheric Radiation and Remote Sensing (NS)
|Atm Sci Elective||3|
|Atm Sci Elective||3|
|2nd Semester Foreign Language||3-5|
Atmospheric Science relates closely to many other science fields, including conservation and environmental sciences, freshwater sciences, geography, geosciences, physics, chemistry and engineering. Students interested in the environment, natural processes and/or computational modeling may choose an Atmospheric Science minor to supplement their studies.
Process to Declare the Minor
Students are welcome to declare an Atmospheric Science minor at any point in their studies. There are no formal admission requirements for the minor. The first step is to submit the declaration of minor form.
The Atmospheric Science program chair and/or academic advisor will then schedule an advising appointment to answer your preliminary questions and make sure you understand the program’s requirements, course offerings and career outlook.
Students who declare the Atmospheric Science minor must complete at least 18 credits in atmospheric science courses, including Introduction to Meteorology. At least 9 of the upper-division (numbered 300 and above) credits in the minor must be obtained through UWM. Students must attain at least a 2.0 GPA on all credits in the minor attempted at UWM or elsewhere.