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Master of Science (M.S.)

There are two M.S. degree options: thesis and nonthesis. Students can change their option at any time, but must declare which option they are pursuing. They should also first coordinate any changes with their advisor.

For both the thesis and nonthesis options there is a set of six 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 timeline for receiving a Master's degree is approximately 2 to 3 years.

The following is a listing of the core courses:

ATM OCN 610: Geophysical Fluid Dynamics 1 (3 credits)

ATM OCN 611: Geophysical Fluid Dynamics 2 (3 credits)

ATM OCN 630: Introduction to Atmospheric Physics (3 credits)

ATM OCN 640: Radiation in the Atmosphere & Ocean (3 credits)

ATM OCN 650: Analysis of Atmospheric Systems (3 credits)

ATM OCN 660: Physical Oceanography (3 credits)

Every student seeking an M.S. degree will, in consultation with their advisor, design a curriculum which must be approved by their advisor.

Degree Requirements

Thesis Option

The student conducts research supervised by their major professor. Results of the research are written into a master's thesis, following guidelines set by the Graduate School, library, department, thesis committee, and major professor. While conducting the research and writing the thesis, the student may want to (but is not required to) register for research credits (ATM OCN 990). The student must have a major professor to utilize the thesis option. Additional course work is required.

Thesis. The thesis must be a well organized piece of work written in clear English. The thesis is approved by the major professor and two additional faculty members. A public oral presentation of the thesis research is required, usually scheduled for our Wednesday afternoon department seminar series.

Course Credits. Please see this link for the Graduate School catalog description of requirements.

New requirements effective for students starting Fall 2014 or later or for M.S. students who will complete degree after Fall semester 2016: Total of 30 credits, a minimum of 16 of which must be earned while in residence at UW-Madison.

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.

Another 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.

For these credits, half (15 credits out of 30 total credits) must be completed in graduate courses numbered 700 or above, or in courses 300-699 designated as graduate courses, have >50% graduate enrollment, or assess graduate students separately from undergraduates, including: Atm Ocn 500–507, 510–599, 600–680.

A GPA of 3.0 must be maintained.

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 14 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Students with undergraduate degrees from UW-Madison, with program approval,  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. 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. In all cases, 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.

Students continuously enrolled prior to Fall 2014 and who expect to graduate by Fall 2016 may choose to be grandfathered in our older requirements: Total of 24 credits of courses numbered 400 or above, is required. 12 of the credits must be taken in our department as lecture courses (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. The additional 12 credits may be taken in or out of our department. Credits can include seminars, core courses, and other courses taken as a graduate student (graduate level courses taken as an undergraduate student or special student don't count). Research credits do not count toward the 24 credit requirement. A GPA of 3.0 must be maintained.

Nonthesis Option

The student must demonstrate technical writing skill, gain an interdisciplinary background with courses outside the department, and can utilize professional experience, internships, or other courses to round out their education. The grad chair will serve as academic advisor unless the student finds another faculty member willing to serve as advisor.

Writing Requirement. Each student must write a paper demonstrating technical writing skill. 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 research or seminar class will decide on the acceptance of that paper and indicate so by signing the paper. The accepted paper should be given to the grad coordinator or grad chair to be filed with the student's record.

Course Credits.

New requirements effective for students starting Fall 2014 or later or for M.S. students who will complete degree after Fall semester 2016: Total of 36 credits, at least 19 of which must be earned while in residence at UW-Madison.

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.

Half of degree coursework (18 credits out of 36 total credits) must be completed in graduate courses numbered 700 or above, or in courses 300-699 designated as graduate courses, have >50% graduate enrollment, or assess graduate students separately from undergraduates, including: Atm Ocn 500–507, 510–599, 600–680.

A GPA of 3.0 must be maintained.

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 17 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Students with undergraduate degrees from UW-Madison, with program approval, 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. 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. In all cases,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.

Students continuously enrolled prior to Fall 2014 and who expect to graduate by Fall 2016 may choose to be grandfathered in our older requirements: A total of 36 credits and a GPA of 3.0 are required. At least 12 of the credits taken in our department must be B or greater. All credits must be earned as a graduate student (graduate level courses taken as an undergraduate student or special student don't count).

18 - 24 are nonseminar course credits numbered 400 or above in our department. Department core courses count toward this requirement.

6 - 12 are nonseminar courses outside our discipline.

6 - can be course or seminar credits in any department. Research credits are only allowed if approved by your advisor. Some of these remaining 6 credits may be awarded for prior professional experience, or by an internship conducted as part of the M.S. program. Only 2 credits for an internship can be used.

Courses Outside of AOS

Here is a listing of courses that students have taken outside of the department to satisfy degree requirements.

Note: Some 300 level courses in other departments may be acceptable for both options. You must receive approval of your advisor to use a 300 level course for degree requirements. Courses in our department must be at or above the 400 level.

Progress and Completion Guidelines

At the start of the graduate work, the student should declare which option will be pursued. See the graduate coordinator for a M.S. Course Requirement Checklist form. Use this form to record the courses taken, grades received, and as a check list to monitor your progress toward the degree. When all course requirements have been met, the advisor signs and turns the form in to the graduate coordinator.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. The M.S. degree should be completed within three years.

All students normally take a full load of 8 to 12 credits (maximum 15) during each of the first two semesters. International students might take fewer credits if necessary to allow time to improve their English.

Each student must make satisfactory progress, as specified by the departmental and Graduate School satisfactory progress guidelines, which are available from the grad chair or grad coordinator. Failure to maintain satisfactory progress may result in probation, or dismissal from the department. The cumulative GPA in Graduate School must be no less than 3.0.

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.

When the student and his/her advisor determine that all degree requirements will be met during the current semester, the student should see the graduate coordinator to obtain a warrant request form. The graduate coordinator will send the warrant request to the Graduate School. The warrant request should be made at least three weeks before the degree deadline for the current semester. Once all degree requirements have been fulfilled, the warrant is signed by the student's major professor, thesis committee, or advisor as appropriate.The student delivers the signed warrant to the Graduate School, room 217, Bascom Hall. Your thesis must be deposited to Memorial Library and your signed warrant delivered to the Graduate School by the degree deadline in order for your degree to be conferred. You must be enrolled for the semester in which you complete your degree.

The Graduate School has a document on their web site that will answer questions on procedures. Information on thesis preparation is also available. Our department does not have any formatting requirements and you can follow the Graduate School guidelines.

Thesis students must deposit an unbound copy of the thesis at the Memorial Library by the degree deadline. This copy should be on bond paper. You must also provide the graduate coordinator with a hardbound copy of your thesis. The hardbound copy must be received within one month of the degree deadline.Your key deposits will not be returned until the department has the hardbound copy.

For information on commencement, you can call the Commencement Information Hotline at 262-9076. You can also get information on the web site for the Secretary of the Faculty.

If you have an assistantship, it will end on the date that you deposit your thesis in the Memorial Library.

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