Fall Deadline January 15
Spring Deadline December 1
Summer Deadline January 15
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 (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Supplemental form indicating research areas and advisor preferences required.

Overall, 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 research 
  • Sufficient background in prerequisite courses to be successful in ATM OCN courses and research, regardless of academic major 
  • Interests that match interests of current faculty seeking students
  • Prior experience in research through thesis work, practicum courses, internships, summer research experiences, presentation/publication, etc... 
  • Received nationally competitive or University--wide awards or fellowships (e.g., NSF GFRP) 
  • Evidence of solid written and oral English and scientific 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 the above deadline are given highest consideration for Fall semester admission. Spring semester admission is also possible, but less common. 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 (usually ~25-30% for domestic applicants). International applications are not admitted without a source of funding (assistantship, fellowship, or personal) and advisor directly identified.

An offer of admission for fall, typically made in February or early March, does not guarantee funding. Assistantship and internal fellowship decisions are made jointly by the admissions committee and the faculty or group providing the funding in a separate process, with decisions made typically by March-April. You will be notified if funding for you becomes available. Typically we are able to fund approximately 8-10 students a year, primarily by research assistantship. We do not typically provide teaching assistantships to incoming students. The department discourages self-funding of Ph.D. degrees, but will allow it for M.S. For fall admission, you will have until April 15 to accept or reject any offers of admission or funding.

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.

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


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

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (15 credits out of 30 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (https://registrar.wisc.edu/course-guide/).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements A grade of B or greater is required for the 12 credits of lecture courses in the department numbered 400 or above.

The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.
Assessments and Examinations A master's thesis is required, and must be approved by the major professor and two additional faculty members. A public oral presentation of the thesis research is required.
Language Requirements No language requirements.


There is a set of five core courses which are highly recommended as a good foundation for graduate degrees in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. A GPA of 3.0 must be maintained for both options.

The following is a listing of the core courses:

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
ATM OCN 660 Introduction to Physical Oceanography3

In consultation with their advisor, every student seeking a M.S. degree, will design a curriculum that must be approved by their advisor.

  • 12 of the credits must be taken in the department as lecture courses numbered 400 or above.  Seminars, research, independent study or directed reading courses do not satisfy this requirement. A grade of B or greater is required for these 12 credits.
  • An additional 12 (at least) credits may be taken in or out of the department. These credits can include seminars, core courses, and other courses taken as a graduate student. Research credits do not count toward this requirement.
  • Up to 6 research credits in the department can be counted (but are not required) toward the 30 credit requirement.

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

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 14 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree or earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 7 credits of graduate coursework taken as an undergraduate at UW-Madison, as long as those credits were not applied toward an undergraduate degree. 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, students are allowed to count no more than 15 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


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) the student may be dismissed from the program or allowed to continue for 1 additional semester based on advisor appeal to the Graduate School.

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.

Probation is based on student status. The status of a student can be one of three options:

  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).


All students are required to conduct a yearly progress report meeting with their advisor, scheduled by December 31 and completed by April 30. Failure to do so may result in a hold being placed on the student's registration.


15 credits

Time Constraints

The M.S. degree should be completed within three years.

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.



Graduate School Resources

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