The department offers Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctorate (Ph.D.) degrees. Through courses in dynamic, synoptic, and physical meteorology, students develop a strong foundation in tropical meteorology, the department’s special field, and are prepared to do research in the atmospheric sciences. Candidates should have a thorough preparation in physics (with calculus), chemistry, and mathematics through differential equations. Undergraduate courses in physical, dynamic, and synoptic meteorology are expected, but they can be taken in the first year.
Our students come from Hawai‘i, from the US mainland and from other countries. The main qualification to join our program is good performance in an undergraduate program that includes basic training in mathematics (at least through differential equations) and physics. Some of our graduate students have come to us with undergraduate degrees in atmospheric science, but many others have come with undergraduate degrees in physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering or related subjects, and without any prior courses in meteorology.
Requirements for Our Graduate Degrees
Master of Science (M.S.)
The department provides two paths to a Master’s degree (M.S.) The first track, Plan A, requires a student-written thesis. The second track, Plan B, requires additional courses and a project instead of a thesis.
Plan A: Thesis Option
Plan A requires completion of an acceptable thesis and a successful defense of the thesis in an oral examination.
A total of 30 official course credit hours must also be earned. This will be made up of:
- At least 18 credits of regular course work (i.e. excluding ATMO 699, ATMO 700 and ATMO 765), with a minimum of 12 credits in courses numbered 600 and above;
- One (1) credit of ATMO 765;
- Six (6) credits of ATMO 700 “Thesis Research”; and
- Five (5) more credits either from regular courses or ATMO 699 “Directed Research.”
As part of (1), the student must pass with a grade of B- or higher each of our “core graduate courses” of ATMO 600, 610, and 620. Our core requirements also include one (1) term of synoptic meteorology. Unless a student has completed an equivalent course elsewhere, this requirement is met by passing with at least a B- either ATMO 412 or ATMO 416. Students must obtain a minimum GPA of 3.0 for the courses counted as our core (ATMO 600, 610, and 620, plus one of ATMO 412 or ATMO 416, if that is taken by the student). As well, students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 for the courses they take in the M.S. program.
Plan B: Non-Thesis Option
Plan B emphasizes a greater number of graduate level courses, but no thesis.
A total of 30 official course credit hours must be earned, which will be made up of the following:
- At least 18 credits of regular course work (i.e., excluding ATMO 699, ATMO 700, and ATMO 765) in courses numbered 600 and above.
- One (1) credit of ATMO 765.
- Nine (9) additional credits of regular course work in 400 level undergraduate courses and graduate courses (600- and 700-level). Regarding undergraduate courses, we expect that students without a US major in atmospheric sciences may want to take the advanced dynamics course (ATMO 402) and one or both of the forecasting courses (ATMO 412, ATMO 416).
- Two (2) credits of ATMO 699 Directed Research/Reading. These 2 credits with a written term paper, along with ATMO 765, Seminar in Meteorology with an oral presentation, are the capstone project for the Plan B program.
- Our core requirements include ATMO 600, 610, and 620, and one term of a forecasting lab. Unless a student has completed an equivalent course elsewhere, the forecasting laboratory requirement is met with either ATMO 412 or ATMO 416. These core requirements are met by passing with a grade of B- or higher. Other graduate and undergraduate credits may be taken in other fields and applied to the degree program (requirements 1, 3 above).
ATMO 765 is the graduate seminar course. The written report in ATMO 699 along with the oral presentation in ATMO 765 serves as the required capstone project or culminating experience for Plan B. There is neither a general exam nor a final exam for Plan B.
Students must obtain a minimum GPA of 3.0 for the courses counted as our core. As well, students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 for all the courses applied to the MS program.
MS Plan B candidates must be enrolled during the term in which they complete the requirements for the degree; regular course work or ATMO 500 (Master’s Plan B Studies) may be used to meet this requirement. The 500 course is offered as a one-credit course with a mandatory grading of S/NG but does not carry credit toward meeting degree requiements.
Students must satisfy several requirements in order to graduate with a Ph.D. degree. Each student is required to pass at least eight (8) graduate level courses numbered 600 and above with a grade of B- or higher. These courses will be in dynamic, synoptic, physical, tropical meteorology, oceanography or other closely related fields. At least five (5) of these courses must be completed at the University of Hawai‘i. Students with a MS degree from our department will need to take at least five (5) graduate level courses numbered 600 and above that are not counted toward his (her) MS degree requirements with a grade of B- or higher. The courses taken either here or elsewhere need to cover the core requirements ATMO 600, 610, 620 and one of ATMO 412 or ATMO 416. A student must pass each of these core courses with a grade of at least B-. A student must obtain a minimum 3.0 GPA in the core courses taken at Manoa. A student must also maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 for all the courses taken in the Ph.D. program at Manoa.
After these eight (8) courses are successfully completed, but no later than the 24th month in the Ph.D. program, each student must pass a two-part comprehensive examination. The purpose of this exam is to ascertain the student’s comprehension of the broad field of meteorology and so to insure that the student is well prepared for Ph.D. research. The first part of the comprehensive examination is a set of written exercises; this is followed by an oral examination.
No later than 12 months after successful completion of the comprehensive examination, each student is required to submit a written research proposal for approval to his/her dissertation committee.
A Ph.D. student must also successfully complete two semesters of ATMO 765 during his/her Ph.D. studies.
Finally, the student must complete an acceptable Ph.D. thesis and successfully defend it in a public final oral examination.
For more information, please see Information for Prospective Graduate Students.