Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

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SoMAS is one of the nation's leading coastal oceanographic and atmospheric institutions, and the expertise of SoMAS' faculty places Stony Brook in the forefront in addressing and answering questions about regional environmental problems, as well as problems relating to the global ocean and atmosphere. The primary focus of the SoMAS faculty is on fundamental research designed to increase understanding of the processes that characterize the coastal ocean and the atmosphere. SoMAS faculty are also committed to applying the results of research to solve problems arising from society's uses and misuses of the environment. SoMAS includes mission-oriented institutes in several major areas: the Institute for Terrestrial and Plane­tary Atmospheres, the Living Marine Resources Institute, the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science, the Long Island Groundwater Resource Insti­tute, and the Waste Reduction and Manage­ment Institute. These institutes add a wealth of varied resources to education and research.

The SoMAS offers undergraduate majors in  atmospheric and oceanic sciences, environmental studies, marine sciences, and marine vertebrate biology; and minors in environmental studies and marine sciences. See the separate entries for environmental studies (ENS),  marine sciences (MAR), and marine vertebrate biology (MVB) in the alphabetical listings of Approved Majors, Minors, and Programs. The SoMAS also offers several cooperative programs with departments in the College of Arts and Sciences (Chemistry, Biology, and Geosciences) and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (Chemical and Molec­ular Engineering). See the entries for those programs in the alphabetical listings of Approved Majors, Minors, and Programs for more information. Research opportunities in marine sciences, atmospheric sciences, envi­ronmental studies, and waste management are available to undergraduates. 

The major in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences leads to the Bachelor of Science degree. Two tracks of study are available in the major. One is intended for students wishing to learn about the physical behavior of the atmosphere and its application to weather forecasting and the other track is for students who wish to learn about physical phenomena in the atmosphere and the oceans and their interactions.

Completion of the major requires approximately 65 credits. Of the 65 credits required for the major, at least 61 credits must be passed with a letter grade of C or higher.

The core courses for both tracks are as follows:

A. Required Courses in Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, and Computer Science

  1. MAT 131 and MAT 132 Calculus I and II (See note below). If students do not place into MAT 125 or 131 on the basis of the math placement examination, MAT 123 is a required course for the major.
  2. MAT 203 Calculus III with Applications or MAT 205 Calculus III or AMS 261 Applied Calculus III
  3. CHE 131 General Chemistry I (Note: CHE 152 may be substituted for CHE 131)
  4. PHY 125, PHY 126/PHY 133, PHY 127/PHY 134 Classical Physics A, B, and C with labs or PHY 131/PHY 133, PHY 132/ PHY 134 Classical Physics I and II with labs or PHY 141/ PHY 133, PHY 142/PHY 134 Classical Physics I and II: Honors
  5. PHY 277 Computation for Physics and Astronomy or ESG 111 C Programming for Engineers or CSE 130 Introduction to Programming in C

B. Required Departmental Courses:

  1. ATM 205 Introduction to Atmospheric Sciences
  2. ATM 247 Atmospheric Structure and Analysis
  3. ATM 345 Atmospheric Thermodynamics and Dynamics
  4. ATM 348 Atmospheric Physics
  5. ATM 397 Air Pollution and Its Control
  6. MAR 334 Remote Sensing
  7. MAR 350 Ocean Physics

Additional Requirements for the Meteorology Track:

  • CHE 132 General Chemistry II 
  • MAT 303 or MAT 305 Calculus IV with applications or AMS 361 Applied Calculus
  • ATM 346 Advanced Atmospheric Dynamics
  • ATM 347 Advanced Synoptic Meteorology
  • PHY 251 Modern Physics or ATM 320 Spatial Data Analysis Using Matlab

In this track, students learn both the mathematics and physics governing atmospheric behavior and apply this knowledge to forecasting the weather using real-time data received at our weather laboratory. Opportunities are available for students to gain additional practical experience by working under cooperative agreements at two nearby NOAA weather forecasting installations as well as local TV stations. Students graduating in this track will have satisfied all of the coursework recommended by the American Meteorological Society for undergraduate training in meteorology and also the course work required by NOAA for certification as an entry-level government meteorologist. Students graduating in this track will have taken the coursework necessary for graduate study leading to degrees that prepare them for research and teaching positions in the atmospheric sciences. Students are also prepared for positions in other technically related fields.

Additional Requirements for the Atmosphere/Ocean Track:

  • AMS 102 Elements of Statistics
  • AMS 394 Statistical Lab or AMS 210 Linear Algebra
  • ATM 320 Spatial Data Analysis Using Matlab
  • MAR 333 Coastal Oceanography
  • MAR 340 Environmental Problems and Solutions or ENS 301 Contemporary Environmental Issues

This track is not intended for students who are interested in the NOAA/ National Weather Service or graduate school in atmospheric science. Rather, students graduating in this track receive a solid background in statistics, atmospheric science, and oceanography and are therefore well qualified for jobs in the private sector (instrument companies, weather and climatology consultants, weather support for major industry such as airlines and utilities, as well as forecast and climate modeling companies). The ocean-related courses also help those students who are interested in the M.S. graduate program in physical ocean­ography. Students are also prepared for positions in other technically related fields.

Note: The following alternate beginning calculus sequences may be substituted for major requirements or prerequisites: MAT 125, MAT 126, MAT 127 or MAT 141, MAT 142 or MAT 171 or AMS 151, AMS 161 for MAT 131, MAT 132. Equivalency for MAT courses achieved by earning the appropriate score on a placement test is accepted as fulfillment of the requirement without the necessity of substituting other credits. For more detailed information about the various calculus sequences, see "Beginning Mathe­matics Courses" under the Mathe­matics Department in this Bulletin.

C. Upper-Division Writing Requirement:

The advanced writing component of the major in ​ATM requires registration in the 0-credit ​ MAR 459  and approval of either a term paper or a laboratory report written for MAR 334, ATM 347 or ATM 397 at Stony Brook (or for Readings or Research courses). Completion of MAR 459 with a grade of S will result in approval of the WRTD requirement.  ​

Students who wish to use material from a participating course should obtain the necessary form and present it to the course director prior to submission of the material. The course director will grade the material and assign a grade for the appropriate section of MAR 459. 

Students should consult with the department advisor to ensure that their plan for completing the Upper Division Writing Requirement is consistent with university graduation requirements for General Education. Students completing the Stony Brook Curriculum (SBC) must complete a course that satisfies the "Write Effectively within One's Discipline" (WRTD) learning objective to graduate. The Upper Division Writing Requirement is consistent in most cases with the SBC learning outcomes for WRTD.

Bachelor of Science Degree in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences/Master of Science Degree in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences 

Students interested in this program, intended to prepare students for professional employment or graduate school in the field of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, may apply for admission at the end of the junior year. Students in this combined B.S./M.S. program may complete both degrees in 10 semesters plus two summers (although the exact timing will depend on the student’s progress on the research thesis). Entry in the combined B.S./M.S. program is contingent upon a student identifying a thesis advisor, so students should seek out research experience in the laboratories of prospective advisor prior to the end of their junior year. During the fourth year, students take a mixture of undergraduate and graduate courses (6-12 credits). After the 8 th semester (during the summer), students begin M.S. level research. During the fifth year, students complete the remaining graduate requirements for the M.S., likely needing  the following summer to complete the research project. The two to four 500-level MAR courses taken during the senior year may be counted toward required or elective requirements of the undergraduate Marine Science major. Please visit the SoMAS website  for further information on the Marine Sciences programs.

Honors Program in Atmospheric Sciences

Graduation with departmental honors in Atmospheric Sciences requires the following:

1. Students are eligible to participate in the Honors Program if they have a 3.50 GPA in all courses for the major by the end of the junior year. Students should apply to the SoMAS undergraduate director for permission to participate.

2. Students must prepare an honors thesis based on a research project written in the form of a paper for a scientific journal. A student interested in becoming a candidate for honors should submit an outline of the proposed thesis research project to the SoMAS undergraduate director as early as possible, but no later than the second week of classes in the last semester. The student will be given an oral examination in May on his or her research by his or her research supervisor and the undergraduate research committee. The awarding of honors requires the recommendation of this committee and recognizes superior performance in research and scholarly endeavors. The written thesis must be submitted before the end of the semester in which the student is graduating.

3. If the student maintains a GPA of 3.5 in all courses in their major through senior year and receives a recommendation by the undergraduate research committee, he or she will receive departmental honors.


  • Required member questions
  • Essay of at least 250 words
  • Online Teacher/Counselor Evaluation
  • Application Fee $50
  • Submit your English Proficiency via an official score report for the TOEFL, SAT, ACT, IELTS, or PTE Academic.
  • Official secondary school records. All academic credentials must have an official seal, stamp or signature of a school or government official, and be submitted in the original language (if not in English, it must be accompanied by an exactly worded and certified translation).
  • International applicants must document their ability to meet educational and living expenses for one-year of study so that Stony Brook University can issue a Certificate of Visa Eligibility (I-20). Currently, students must show proof of $43,400 (as of September 2016; subject to change) by way of bank statement(s).


  • Honors College scholarships
  • Presidential and Provost's Scholarships
  • Valedictorians and Salutatorians
  • WISE - Women In Science and Engineering
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