Doctor of Philosophy

General Requirements:

Atmospheric Sciences Graduate PhD and MS Degree Requirements (2016)

Graduate Degree Requirements:
Students enrolled in Fall Quarter 2016 or thereafter must abide by the 2016 approved graduate degree requirements. Students enrolled prior to Fall Quarter 2016 may use either the 2004 or 2016 approved graduate degree requirements.  For reference, the 2004 approved graduate degree requirements can be found here.

Graduate students must maintain at least a 3.0 grade-point average in all upper division and graduate courses in order to remain in a graduate program or to be awarded a graduate degree.

Ph.D. Requirements

The Atmospheric Science Graduate Group (ASGG) offers a Plan A Ph.D. program, which includes a five member Dissertation Committee and a final exam. Application to the Ph.D. program does not require a prior master's degree.  In addition to meeting the requirements of Graduate Studies, students pursuing the Ph.D. degree in Atmospheric Science must also fulfill the following requirements:

1. Coursework

Ph.D. Course Plan (PDF)

(36 units of graduate and upper division courses, plus 4 units of seminar)

A. Breadth Requirement

M.S. degree in accepted atmospheric science program OR a B grade average or better in ATM 120, 121a, 128, and (one of) 121b, 124, 133, 158 or 160. A grade of B or higher in an equivalent course at another institution may be used to satisfy any or all of these course requirements.

B. Depth Requirement

Courses taken to satisfy the Breadth requirement may not be used to satisfy these requirements. These or equivalent courses may be completed during prior M.S. study.

  1. 6 units of graded ATM graduate courses with a grade of "B" or better
  2. 9 units of additional graded upper-division or graduate courses
  3. Additional units to complete the 36 unit coursework requirement, chosen with the advice of the major professor and/or the Graduate Advisor

C. Seminar

  1. 4 units of ATM 290 or equivalent
  2. 2 formal presentations, normally given as part of ATM 290

2. Satisfactory completion of the Preliminary Examination (PE)

The Preliminary Examination is administered twice per year by the graduate group's PE Committee, typically at the end of the Spring and Fall quarter. Questions are solicited, compiled and evaluated by the PE committee from the most recent instructors for each relevant subject. The written PE will test foundational knowledge needed by all students pursuing a PhD in atmospheric science. 

All students are required to answer one question from each of the required three breadth subjects -- thermodynamics/cloud microphysics (ATM 120), geophysical fluid dynamics (ATM 121a), and radiation and satellite meteorology (ATM 128) -- and one to be selected from the specialty/advanced subjects (typically advanced atmospheric dynamics, boundary layer meteorology, atmospheric chemistry, biometeorology, air quality, instruments and observations, atmospheric modeling, and climate dynamics).  To pass the PE, a student must demonstrate strong proficiency in at least 3 of the 4 subjects and cannot show any major deficiencies in the fourth subject.

3. Satisfactory completion of the Qualifying Examination (QE)

The Qualifying Examination is administered by the student’s QE Committee, and should be completed before the end of the student's third academic year, ideally sometime during the student’s second year. The student submits an Application for Qualifying Examination to the Graduate Advisor or program chair at least six weeks prior to the oral examination date. Under no circumstances should a student take the Qualifying Examination before receiving formal notice of Admission to the Qualifying Examination from the Dean of Graduate Studies. As part of this form, the QE Committee is recommended by the Graduate Advisor in consultation with the candidate and his/her prospective major professor and submitted to Graduate Studies for approval in accordance with Academic Senate regulations. The committee is composed of 5 members, including at least 3 members from the Atmospheric Science Graduate Group, and at least 1 member from outside of the group. The student’s major professor may not be the Chair of this committee but may be a member of the committee. 

A. Dissertation Prospectus

ASGG Prospectus Guidelines (June 2017)

The Prospectus is an independently prepared proposal not to exceed 12 single spaced pages including figures, tables and appendices. The font size must be no smaller than Times Roman 11 (or equivalent). The references are not included in the 12 page limit. The prospectus should include: an introduction to the topic (including a survey of the relevant literature), a hypothesis or set of questions to be addressed, methods to be used to address the hypothesis/questions, any preliminary results, and cited references. The Prospectus must be submitted to the QE Committee at least ten working days prior to the date of the Oral Exam.

B. Oral Qualifying Examination

The oral portion of the QE is administered by the student’s QE Committee, and is open to all ASGG faculty with the unanimous consent of the committee and student. The oral portion of the QE will include two parts. The first part is a student presentation of the prospectus, which should be prepared as approximately a 20 – 30 minute talk. The actual presentation will take longer because of questions from the committee. The second part of the exam will be oral questions by the Committee and interested faculty regarding the student’s prospectus, general knowledge of atmospheric science, depth area of study, and any follow up questions related to the Preliminary Exam. The total length of the Exam should be approximately three (3) hours. 

4. Advancement to Candidacy

Successful completion of the preliminary exam and qualifying exam, followed by filing the application for Advancement to Candidacy with Graduate Studies, promotes the student to a candidate for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. As part of the Advancement to Candidacy form the candidate in consultation with the Graduate Advisor and his/her major professor will recommend to Graduate Studies five people for the Dissertation Committee. This committee is composed of three committee members that will help guide the candidate's dissertation research and two additional members that will participate in the Final Exam. The student's major professor will be chair of this committee. At least one committee member must be from outside of the ASGG. The committee is approved in accordance with Academic Senate regulations.

5. Dissertation

Satisfactory completion of a Ph.D. Dissertation. The Ph.D. dissertation must be an original and substantial contribution to knowledge in the student's major field. It must demonstrate the ability to carry out a program of advanced research, relying extensively upon one's own initiative and skills, and must report the results in accordance with standards observed in recognized scientific journals. The dissertation must be written in accordance with the rules issued by Graduate Studies and must be approved by the three members of the Dissertation Committee that helped guide the candidate's dissertation research.  The written dissertation should be submitted to the Dissertation Committee at least four weeks in advance of the dissertation defense.

6. Dissertation Defense

Satisfactory Ph.D. Dissertation Defense including public seminar. The defense will be composed of two parts:

  1. a public exit seminar open to all students and faculty
  2. a closed oral examination administered and evaluated by the five members of the Dissertation Committee

The oral examination will focus on the dissertation and the relationship of the candidate's research to the overall discipline.

For further information see the following web sites:
Atmospheric Science Graduate Group
UC Davis Office of Graduate Studies