Atmospheric Sciences (Ph.D.) Program Details

Degree Requirements

    ❱   Required coursework
    ❱   Qualifying or comprehensive examination
    ❱   Graduate School writing proficiency requirement
    ❱   Graduate School Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement
    ❱   Dissertation  
    ❱   Final oral examination/Dissertation defense

Research Specializations   

    ❱   Air quality modeling & field observation
    ❱   Atmospheric chemistry & fluid dynamics
    ❱   Mesoscale meteorology
    ❱   Atmospheric physics
    ❱   Climate modeling

Research Areas & Interests

Faculty Research Interests

Our faculty are recognized experts in mesoscale meteorology, climate modeling, air quality modeling and field observations, atmospheric physics, atmospheric chemistry, and mechanical engineering.
A sampling of research interests

  • Field observation and numerical studies of tropical cyclogenesis in the eastern Atlantic
  • Chemical modeling and data assimilation focused on the ability of air quality models to make forecasts of ozone and PM2.5 and the impact of atmospheric chemistry on multiple scales (local, regional and global scales)
  • Characterization of water vapor, wind, and aerosol variability on the sub-pixel scale using ground-based Raman lidars and other passive and active profiling systems for satellite and climate reference studies
  • Characterization of the impacts and microphysical evolution of particulate matter from Saharan dust outbreaks and African biomass burning from ship-based field observations 
  • Raman lidar studies of aerosols, water vapor, clouds, and temperature
  • Ceilometer studies of boundary layer evolution
  • Interaction of atmospheric gases such as ozone and NOx on mineral dust surfaces
  • The influence of aerosols and clouds on light propagation through the atmosphere
  • Effect of changes in climate change on global atmospheric oxidizing capacity 
  • Effects of mineral aerosols (Saharan dust) on the concentrations of tropospheric gases
  • Social impacts of tropical cyclones on coastal communities
  • Remote sensing as a tool for understanding the relationships between marine ecosystems, water optical properties, and light penetration
  • Examining ultrafine particle growth events and their contribution to climate, radiation, and air quality in a semi-urban region
  • Social impacts of severe weather; protective action and evacuation responses of disaster victims
  • Chemical and microbiological characteristics of urban-aerosols

Program of Study (Beyond M.S.)* 


ATMS 301 Current Topics in Atmospheric Science

ATMS 340 & 341 Geophysical Fluids Dynamics I & II

ATMS 320 & 321 - Atmospheric Physics I & II

ATMS 550 Atmospheric Radiation OR ATMS 330 Atmospheric Chemistry

ATMS 580 Statistical Data Analysis

ATMS 570 Remote Sens

ATMS 572 Numerical Weather Prediction

ATMS 523 Synoptic Meteorology

ATMS 537 Instrumentation 




A sampling of elective courses

ATMS 335   Planetary Atmospheres

ATMS 551   Atmospheric Radiation II

ATMS 571   Remote Sensing II

ATMS 572   Numerical Weather Prediction I

ATMS 530   Air Pollution Meteorology

ATMS 523   Synoptic Meteorology

ATMS 520   Climatology

ATMS 545   Turbulence

ATMS 537   Advanced Laboratory and Instrumentation


*Courses included in the sample program of study are subject to change. Students should consult with their programs regarding their required program of study. 

NOAA Center in Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology

The NOAA Center for Atmospheric Science & Meteorology (NCAS-M) is a major research center affiliated with the Howard University Atmospheric Sciences Department, providing much research support for students and faculty. In addition, individual faculty research grants also support our faculty research.

Who We Are

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cooperative Science Center for Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology (NCAS-M) is a cooperative partnership between lead institution Howard University and Fort Valley State University, Jackson State University, Pennsylvania State University, San Diego State University, San Jose State University, the State University of New York at Albany, Tuskegee University, University of Maryland Baltimore County, University of Maryland College Park, Universidad Metropolitana, University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, and University of Texas El Paso. NCAS-M performs research and applications in climate, weather, and air quality prediction and analyses and aims to diversify the atmospheric and environmental sciences workforce. The research integrates communications, education, journalism, psychology, and sociology to study the environment, climate, and atmosphere.

These partner institutions represent a unique niche within an academic community that combines research-intensive institutions, advanced education, collaborative research training, and capacity-building in NOAA mission-relevant disciplines across all campuses. 

Explore NCAS-M →

What We Do

The mission of NCAS-M is to increase the number of workforce-ready graduates from underrepresented communities in NOAA-related sciences and to support NOAA, other Federal agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The philosophy of research as education guides NCAS-M. In pursuit of this, NCAS-M collaborates with NOAA and NOAA stakeholders in support of this mission in three thematic areas:

  • Interdisciplinary scientific research for building resilient communities against weather extremes
  • Innovative observations for advancing climate, weather, and air quality analysis and prediction
  • Interdisciplinary research in support of building healthy communities

Explore NCAS-M Themes →

Our Outcomes

NCAS-M Stats

  • 80 + Active research collaborations and student training engagements with NOAA personnel
  • 200+ NOAA personnel engaged in collaborations or training of NCAS-M students
  • 90% of Atmospheric sciences and meteorology graduates are working in a geosciences field
  • 93% Retention rate of NCAS-M fellows in their field of study
  • ~$5M Per year in leveraged funding

Examples of Projects

  • Fire Influence on Regional Global Environments and Air Quality: A collaborative field campaign and modeling project with NOAA (i.e., ESRL, CPO, NWS, NESDIS), NASA, and other partners that provide observations on the impact of wildfires on climate and air quality.
  • A Social Science Approach to Understanding Gaps in the Dissemination of Information and Behavioral Responses to Severe Weather: Collaborative multi-disciplinary work with NWS and NSSL scientists examining behavioral responses to probabilistic forecasts and severe weather information designed to inform impact-based decision support products.
  • Beltsville Observational Site: Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Reference Upper-Air Network (GRUAN) radiosonde data and other measurements provided to NOAA.


Graduate Student Fellowships

NCAS-M accepts students each year into our center to become fellows, and opportunities are often available yearly at each of the 13 partner institutions. Students who become fellows conduct research, connect with mentors, obtain professional development, engage with NOAA professionals and receive financial support. Also, with our mission of increasing the number of workforce-ready graduates from underrepresented communities who enter the NOAA-related sciences, our primary goal is to recruit, train, and graduate fellows who are well-prepared to enter the NOAA-mission workforce.

NCAS-M Fellowship Details & Eligibility →

Admission to Candidacy 

Students are admitted to formal candidacy by the Graduate School when they have completed the required coursework, passed the qualifying or comprehensive examination, submitted an approved topic for research, and been recommended by the Department. Candidates must also have satisfied the Graduate School writing proficiency requirement and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement.

Graduate Funding 

Admitted students may be eligible to compete for Graduate School competitive awards, which provide tuition remission and a stipend during the academic year or for graduate research or teaching assistantships that may be available at the department level (see details on the NCAS-M Fellowship below). Research assistants and teaching assistants work no more than 20 hours a week under the program's direction, usually in support of faculty research (research assistants) or in support of assigned courses (teaching assistants). Please see the Funding website for more detailed information. 

NCAS-M Fellowship Details & Eligibility →