M.S. Degree

M.S. Degree

GPAS offers both thesis and non-thesis options leading to a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Atmospheric Science. The thesis option requires a minimum of 24 course credits, 6 research credits, a thesis, and an oral examination on the thesis conducted by a committee of four associate members or members of the graduate program. The non-thesis option requires 30 course credits, an expository essay, and the M.S. Final Examination.

For course requirements, please see:  Course Requirements

Expository Essay

The purpose of the expository essay 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 evaluates for completeness, scientific accuracy, and research ability. A bound version of the paper becomes part of the permanent archive of the Department Library. A Ph.D. dissertation prospectus will also satisfies this requirement.

Non-Thesis Option Final Examination

Near the end of each semester, GPAS conducts a comprehensive examination. A passing score at the Master's level constitutes the Final Examination for the non-thesis M.S. degree. Master's students typically take this examination at the end of their second year of graduate work.  It is designed to test basic knowledge of atmospheric science and is the same for all students each semester.  It covers topics taught in GPAS core courses. Questions for this exam are solicited from core-course instructors by the Curriculum Committee, which reviews and selects five questions for the examination. Students are required to answer four of the five questions, which are graded by the appropriate core-course instructors. The Curriculum Committee evaluates the combined results for all questions and determines if the student has demonstrated Master's level proficiency in the material. At least two members of the Curriculum Committee and the GPAS Director must approve the passing grade.  If a student fails the written portion of the Final Examination, the Curriculum Committee may elect to: (1) allow the student to repeat the examination the next time it is offered (once only), (2) issue a pass conditional on satisfactory completion of additional courses, or (3) terminate the students' enrollment in GPAS.

Thesis Option

Students electing to pursue the thesis option of the M.S. degree conduct original research and present this research as both a written thesis and an oral presentation. The student and student's advisor select a Thesis Committee consisting of the student's advisor and three faculty members, two from within and one from outside of GPAS. The Thesis Committee reviews the thesis, attends the oral defense, and conducts an oral examination after the oral defense. The Thesis Committee determines whether the student's thesis fulfills the requirements for a Master's degree.

Time Limit

All requirements for the M.S. degree must be completed within a five-year period. A full-time student can complete the M.S. degree in two years.