Skip to main content
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Degree Requirements

Curricular Requirements

30 credits need to be completed, 16 of which must be earned while in residence at UW-Madison. The curricular sequence consists of a set of Fundamental core classes, Technical training classes, Application track classes, and Professional Development classes.

Fundamental courses (9 credits needed) cover the core theoretical basis of our field. Technical courses (5-6 credits needed) allow students to develop skills necessary to be successful in atmospheric science careers. Application track classes (9-10 credits needed) allow students to specialize in one of four pathways: Forecasting and Modeling, Air Quality Science and Regulation, Climate Change, Risk Management, and Communication, or Satellite Meteorology. Students need to complete at least two courses within their chosen pathway. The remaining credits may be completed in the same pathway or another.

Professional Development credits (6 needed) are acquired through a variety of outlets which allow students to gain hands-on experience, such as research seminars, colloquiums, lab meetings, professional conferences, webinars, weather discussions, meetings with the program manager or faculty director, etc. During the summer, students are required to partake in a summer internship alongside an online, discussion-based course. It is the responsibility of the student, with assistance from the program manager, to secure a paid or unpaid internship meeting a minimum of 6-8 hours/week for at least 10-12 weeks. In case the student is unable to secure an internship or seeks a more entrepreneurial approach, the student can propose an alternate in lieu of internship. The alternative must still meet minimum hour and length requirements, but may include independent business start-up planning, direct consulting with faculty, or other creative approaches. The alternative must have a direct mentor or supervisor identified and requires approval of the faculty director.

With program approval, students with undergraduate degrees from UW-Madison are allowed to count up to 7 credits of graduate coursework (numbered 300 or above) toward the degree specialization areas. These credits may also be counted toward the minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement if they are in courses numbered 700 or above. No credits may be counted toward the minimum graduate residence credit requirement. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Courses Outside of AOS

Professional Master’s students are limited in taking courses outside AOS to those listed in the curriculum. In case a specific course is unavailable, a student may request a substitution of an alternate course that could meet the same requirements. In that case, approval by the faculty director and the College of Letters and Science is required. This should be sought well in advance of enrolling.

All students are required to meet with the program manager and/or faculty director to complete a progress report toward the end of each semester. Failure to do so will result in a hold being placed on the student’s registration. Each report will encompass professional development and course progress and will need to be signed by both the program manager and faculty director.

Degree Timeline

We expect students to complete the Professional Master’s degree in one year. However, part-time enrollment is allowed, which may stretch the timeline to two years or more.

Students will take a full load of 12-14 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. The summer will require 4 credits to be satisfied through an 10-12 week internship paired alongside professional development activities, including an online course. Each student must make satisfactory progress, as specified by the departmental and Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures: Satisfactory Progress, which are available from the faculty director or program manager. 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 their advisor determine that all degree requirements will be met during the current semester, the student should see the program manager to obtain a warrant request form. The program manager 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 advisor or faculty director. The student delivers the signed warrant to the Graduate School, room 217, Bascom Hall. You must be enrolled for the semester in which you complete your degree.

The Graduate School has a webpage that will answer questions about completing a master’s degree. For information on commencement, you can get information on the commencement webpage.