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ATMOSPHERIC AND OCEANIC SCIENCES Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Master's Degrees:

M.S., with available thesis and non-thesis tracks

Doctoral Degree:

Ph.D.

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

M.S.–thesis track: 30 credits

M.S.–non-thesis track: 36 credits

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

51 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

M.S.–thesis track: 16 credits

M.S.–non-thesis track: 19 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

32 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

M.S.–thesis track: Half of degree coursework (15 credits out of 30 total credits) must be completed in courses numbered 700 or above, or in the following courses clearly designated as graduate courses: Atm Ocn 500–507, 510–599, 600–680.

M.S.–non-thesis track: Half of degree coursework (18 credits out of 36 total credits) must be completed in courses numbered 700 or above, or in the following courses clearly designated as graduate courses: Atm Ocn 500–507, 510–599, 600–680.

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

Half of degree coursework (26 credits out of 51 total credits) must be completed in courses numbered 700 or above, or in the following courses clearly designated as ‚graduate courses: Atm Ocn 500–507, 510–599, 600–680.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

M.S.–thesis track: 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.

M.S.–non-thesis track: With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 17 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.

Prior Coursework 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.

Prior Coursework Requirement: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval and payment of the difference in tuition (between Special and graduate tuition), 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 degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 19 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.

Prior Coursework 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 or earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirement: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval and payment of the difference in tuition (between Special and graduate tuition), 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 degree or earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

M.S.: thesis track:

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.

M.S.–non-thesis track: At least 18 credits must be from courses numbered 400 or above in the department. Seminars, research, independent study or directed reading courses do not satisfy this requirement.

An additional 6 (at least) credits must be from courses outside of the department. Seminars and research credits do not satisfy this requirement.

A total of 30 credits must be taken from nonseminar courses. Research credits do not contribute to this requirement.

Up to 6 credits can be from seminar courses in any department, from research in the atmospheric and oceanic sciences department only if approved by the student's advisor, or from independent study or directed reading in any department. Up to 2 of these 6 credits may be awarded for prior professional experience, or by an internship conducted as part of the M.S. program.

Program-Specific Courses Required

At least 15 credits are from lecture courses numbered 600 or above in the department. Seminars, research credits, and audited courses are not included.

An additional 10 (at least) credits are taken to satisfy the minor requirement (see below). These credits may be from the department, but cannot be used to satisfy the first requirement (15 credits from lecture courses numbered 600 or above in the department).

Students are required to take Atm Ocn 900.

Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements

All doctoral students are required to complete two broadening requirements: a minor, and a supplemental requirement.

Minor requirement:

A minor program consists of Option A (external) 10 or more course credits in one discipline or Option B (distributed) 10 or more credits in one or more departments and can include coursework in the major department. Selection of Option A requires approval of the minor department. Selection of Option B requires approval of the major department. The department monitors minor requirements.

Supplemental requirement:

The supplemental requirement is specified by the Ph.D. committee during the first Ph.D. committee meeting. Examples include (but are not limited to): an augmented minor, substantial foreign language skill, significant professional or field experience, or interdisciplinary coursework.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.00 GPA required

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.00 GPA required

Other Grade Requirements

M.S.–thesis track: A grade of B or greater is required for the 12 credits of lecture courses in the department numbered 400 or above. See above, under "Program-Specific Courses Required."

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.

Other Grade Requirements

All grades must be C or better to count towards the degree.

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.

Probation Policy

Academic probation:

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 based on progress:

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).

Probation Policy

Academic probation:

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 based on progress:

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).

Advisor / Committee

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 will result in a hold being placed on the student's registration.

Advisor / Committee

A Ph.D. committee is required in order to become a Ph.D. student. The student, under the guidance of the major professor, must form a committee of five professors consisting of the major professor, three other professors from our department, and one professor from outside the department (often from the minor department). Additional members may be added, if appropriate. Adjunct faculty can be included among the five committee members. If the committee dissolves for any reason, the candidate cannot continue in the Ph.D. program unless a new committee is formed.

The first meeting of the Ph.D. committee should normally occur after the student completes the qualifying examination, but within the same semester as the qualifying examination. Potential committee members, in deciding whether to form a Ph.D. committee, use results from the qualifying examination as well as additional information about a student's suitability for pursuing a Ph.D.

All students are required to conduct a yearly progress report meeting with their thesis committee after passing the preliminary examination.

Assessments and Examinations

M.S.–thesis track: A master's thesis is required, and must be approved by the major professor and two additional faculty members. A public oral presentation of presentation of the thesis research is required.

M.S.–non-thesis track: A paper demonstrating technical writing skill is required. The student can write this paper by working individually with a professor in a directed research setting, or as part of a seminar class. The professor in charge of the directed study or seminar course indicates acceptance of the paper as evidence of technical writing skill by signing the paper.

Assessments and Examinations

Students wishing to pursue a Ph.D. are required to take a qualifying examination prior to forming a Ph.D. committee (see above regarding the formation of a Ph.D. committee). For more information about the qualifying examination, please consult the department's Qualifying Exam FAQs.

Ph.D. students are required to complete a preliminary examination by the Ph.D. committee prior to becoming a Ph.D. candidate. Prior to the preliminary examination the student works with the major professor to define an appropriate research topic. This topic is written into a several page research proposal that is given to the Ph.D. committee members a few weeks prior to the preliminary examination.

Time Constraints

The M.S. degree should be completed within three years. For additional time constraints please consult the Graduate School Academic Policies and Procedures.

Time Constraints

The Ph.D. degree should be completed within five years after establishing a Ph.D. committee. For additional time constraints please consult the Graduate School Academic Policies and Procedures.

Language Requirements

No language requirements.

Language Requirements

No language requirements.