This is a named option within the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences M.S.

The M.S.-AOS: Professional Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences focuses on developing the in-demand skills needed to succeed and become leaders in the rapidly expanding and changing industry of meteorological consulting, risk management, and operational forecasting. The program provides training in fundamental atmospheric sciences as well as skill development in forecasting, modeling, data analysis, scientific communication and evaluation of research for professional careers in both government and commercial institutions.

We offer four specialization internal pathways:

Forecasting and Modeling: Weather and climate computer models are increasingly complex, specialized, and are used in everyday decision making by a large number of industries and people. Skilled modelers who understand the theory, can run the models, and interpret the output are in high demand in industry and agenices like NOAA and NASA. Gain insight into how models work and experience in running state-of-the-art models in our field.

Air Quality Science and Regulation: Air pollution affects public health globally, and understanding how emissions, atmospheric transport, and human impacts are linked requires a deep understanding of chemistry, dynamics, epidemiology, and policy. Our air quality pathway prepares students to tackle key pollution problems.

Climate Science, Risk Management, and Communication: Climate change is a leading environmental problem of our generation. Skilled leaders who can evaluate climate variability from seasonal to century timescales, connect these to impacts and risks to society, and present these to diverse audiences in government and private sector are in high demand.

Satellite Meteorology: UW–Madison is the birthplace of satellite meteorology and home of the UW Space Sciences and Engineering Center (SSEC) and the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, both located in the same building as our department. You have access to these expert scientists. This track prepare students in real-world analysis of weather satellite, radar, and allied remote sensing technologies.

Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline February 1
Spring Deadline This program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline This program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required but may be considered if available.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Admission to the Professional Program requires the same academic strength and expectations of the Research Program, except that you do not need to elect an advisor or research topic.

Our criteria for admissions is holistic and we generally favor high quality applicants who have:

  • Evidence of interest in meteorological, climate, ocean, and.or remote sensing careers 
  • Sufficient background in prerequisite courses to be successful in AOS courses and careers, regardless of academic major 
  • Evidence of solid written and oral English communication skills 
  • GPA, GRE, and TOEFL scores reflective of academic strength
  • Ability to enhance the academic, geographic, gender, ethnic, economic, or cultural diversity of our department, especially for underrepresented groups

Applications submitted by January 15 are given highest consideration for Fall semester admission. All applicants are assessed and ranked by an admissions committee chaired by the Graduate Program Chair. Admission priority is given to the highest ranked applicants who best meet our application criteria. No assistantship funding is available in the professional program.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Information

Students enrolled in this program are not eligible to receive tuition remission from graduate assistantship appointments at this institution.

AOS Professional Master’s students can be hired as TAs only within AOS and only below the tuition remission appointment level of 33.3%.

Students in this program may not switch to the research program and then back to the professional program. A one-way switch is allowed.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Named Option requirements

mode of instruction

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No Yes No Yes

 Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 15 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) policy (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
This program follows the Graduate School's policy:
Other Grade Requirements Students must earn a C or above in all coursework.

Students may not have any more than two incompletes on their record at any one time.
Assessments and Examinations None
Language Requirements No language requirements.

Required Courses 

  • 9 credits in fundamentals of ATM OCN
    • Students pick three of the following
ATM OCN 610 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics I3
ATM OCN 611 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics II3
ATM OCN 630 Introduction to Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics3
ATM OCN 640 Radiation in the Atmosphere and Ocean3
  • 5-6 credits in technical scientific data analysis, measurements and/or programming
    • At least three credits must be in ATM OCN
ATM OCN 404 Meteorological Measurements2
ATM OCN 573 Computational Methods in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences3
ATM OCN 575 Climatological Analysis3-4
R M I 700 Principles of Risk Management3
R M I 650 Sustainability, Environmental and Social Risk Management3
  • 9-10 credits in applied aspects of ATM OCN
    • Students must pick a specialty option and PICK AT LEAST TWO courses of those lists 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.


ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  332 Global Warming: Science and Impacts3
ATM OCN 425 Global Climate Processes3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  520 Bioclimatology3
ATM OCN 522 Tropical Meteorology3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  528 Past Climates and Climatic Change3
ATM OCN 660 Introduction to Physical Oceanography3
ATM OCN 705 The Middle Atmosphere3
ATM OCN 712 General Circulation of the Atmosphere3
ATM OCN 760 Large-Scale Ocean-Atmosphere Coupling3

Satellite meteorology

ATM OCN 441 Radar and Satellite Meteorology3
ATM OCN 637 Cloud Physics3-4
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  745 Meteorological Satellite Applications2-3
ENVIR ST/​CIV ENGR/​LAND ARC  556 Remote Sensing Digital Image Processing3

Air Quality

ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  355 Introduction to Air Quality3
CIV ENGR/​G L E  511 Mixing and Transport in the Environment3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  535 Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Pollution3
ATM OCN 638 Atmospheric Chemistry3
ATM OCN/​CIV ENGR  701 The Chemistry of Air Pollution2
ATM OCN 773 Boundary Layer Meteorology3
ENVIR ST/​POP HLTH  502 Air Pollution and Human Health3

Forecasting and modeling

ATM OCN 610 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics I 13
ATM OCN 751 The Frontal Cyclone3
ATM OCN 753 Mesoscale Meteorology3
ATM OCN 801 Topics in Theoretical Meteorology2-3

ATM OCN 610 Geophysical Fluid Dynamics I can count only if not used to count for fundamentals requirement.

  • 6 credits in professional development
ATM OCN 810 Practical Training in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences I 21
ATM OCN 811 Practical Training in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences II 22
ATM OCN 999 Advanced Independent Study 33

ATM OCN 810 Practical Training in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences I and ATM OCN 811 Practical Training in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences II require a supervised 20-30 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 Advanced Independent Study. Placement in internship is made during the spring semester with support from the program coordinator and academic advisor. See program policies for more details.


ATM OCN 999 Advanced Independent Study credit earned through 1-2 hours per week attendance and reporting on: weekly meeting with program advisor, participation in Graduate School professional development workshops, attendance at research seminars or lab meetings, participation at professional conferences, department presentation of CCM portfolio (summer). Write up on activities required each semester. ATM OCN 999 Advanced Independent Study is taken for one credit in each of fall, spring, and summer session.  Summer session ATM OCN 999 Advanced Independent Study can be taken remotely if internship placement is off campus.

Internship Requirement

At the end of the spring semester, all students are expected to have secured a paid or unpaid internship with a minimum of 10 hours per week of expected work for a minimum of 8 weeks. The internship, occurring in conjunction with online classes ATM OCN 810ATM OCN 811, and ATM OCN 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 advisor 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.

Students in this program may not take courses outside the prescribed curriculum without faculty advisor and program director approval. Students in this program cannot enroll concurrently in other undergraduate, graduate or certificate programs.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Named Option-SPecific Policies


Graduate Work from Other Institutions

Students will not be permitted to use credits from previously earned graduate coursework. 

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With advisor approval, up to 7 credits numbered 300 or above may be counted toward the degree specialization areas (not the core degree requirements). These credits may 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.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, and payment of the difference in tuition, students are allowed to count up to 7 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a  UW–Madison Special student toward the minimum graduate residence credit requirement and the minimum graduate degree credit requirement.  These credits may be counted toward the minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement if they are in courses numbered 700 or above. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status).
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).

A semester GPA below 3.0 will result in the student being placed on academic probation. If a semester GPA of 3.0 is not attained during the subsequent semester of full time enrollment (or 12 credits of enrollment if enrolled part-time), this will be deemed unsatisfactory progress and the student may be dismissed from the program or allowed to continue for one additional semester based on advisor appeal to the Graduate School.


Professional M.S. students will all be advised by the faculty director, with support from the program coordinator. Delegation of advising to other faculty may occur depending on program size and specific interests.


15 credits

TIME lmits

The professional degree should take 12 months to complete at full-time enrollment, starting in fall semester. This program follows the Graduate School's Time Limits policy.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.


Students in the professional program may not switch to research program and then back to professional program. A one-way switch is allowed.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career.