The Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences offers advanced
undergraduate and graduate courses leading to the Master of Science degree in
Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences with specializations in Meteorology or Earth Systems
Science, and Doctor of Philosophy degree in Atmospheric and Environmental
Sciences (AES).Faculty in the
Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences are an active research group that conduct research with
sponsorship from various federal agencies
and the State of South Dakota.
The primary objective of the atmospheric and environmental sciences graduate
program is to give students a basic understanding of the factors influencing
atmospheric phenomena, including solar and terrestrial radiation, fluid
dynamics, thermodynamics, microphysical and electrical processes in
clouds, ecology, atmospheric chemistry, and biogeochemistry.
Instruction is offered on the interpretation of conventional weather,
satellite and radar data; observations collected by specially instrumented
aircraft, and output from numerical models of atmospheric
processes.The graduate student is
expected to carry out original research in the atmospheric sciences using some
of these tools and resources.In
addition, the student must successfully complete the coursework and program
requirements enumerated below.
A student applying for admission to the Master's degree
program in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences should have a baccalaureate
degree in meteorology or atmospheric sciences, one of the biological or physical
sciences, earth system sciences, mathematics, or engineering.It is desirable for applicants to have received undergraduate credit for
mathematics through Calculus 2 (for the earth systems science specialization -
see below) or ordinary differential equations (for the meteorology
specialization).For the meteorology specialization,
undergraduate physics is required, and for the earth systems specialization
undergraduate physics and chemistry are desirable.Experience with computer programming is
recommended. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores from the General Test are
required for all students except SDSM&T graduates.TOEFL scores are required
of all applicants from colleges outside the U.S.
credit hours of course work in atmospheric sciences at the 500-level or above.
Nine (9) additional credit hours of non-atmospheric sciences electives at the
400-level or above(300-level non-atmospheric
sciences courses can be accepted if approved by the Council on Graduate Education), or atmospheric sciences electives at the 500 level.
Thesis research - six (6) credit hours.
(Please note undergraduate credit limitations given in the current catalog under
“M.S. Degree Requirements” for Master of Science degrees.)
he following program requirements apply to all
students in Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences:
Satisfactory performance on a general coursework exam.
Registration in ATM 798 Graduate Research (thesis) each semester the
student is receiving an assistantship
in ATM 690 Graduate Seminar each
Completion of a master's thesis.
The thesis must adhere to the format and content guidelines as set forth by
the Graduate School, and be approved by the student's graduate advisory committee and
the Dean of Graduate Education.
In addition, there are requirements specific to the two (2)
ATM MS specializations.Each student
will choose one of these specializations. The requirements are:
Students entering the program with a Bachelor's degree in
fields outside of atmospheric sciences or meteorology must take the
following courses: ATM 450 - Synoptic Meteorology I (not for graduate credit),
ATM 501 - Atmospheric Physics, ATM 555 - Synoptic Meteorology II, and ATM 560 -
Atmospheric Dynamics I. Additional required coursework may be determined by
student's graduate committee.
All students will be required to take the following course:
ATM 603 - Atmosphere-Biosphere Interactions.They also must complete at least one
remote sensing course.
Program of Study
A specific plan of study will be determined on an individual basis with
concurrence from the student's advisor and graduate advisory committee members.
In either specialization, exceptions to these departmental requirements may be
granted by the student's committee for good cause.
Elective courses offered by other departments are encouraged
as long as the fifteen (15) hours of course work in Atmospheric Sciences at the
500-level or above are completed as outlined in “Course requirements for M.S.
degree.”Graduate students may take electives in
the fields of physics, mathematics, computer science, chemistry, engineering,
engineering management, social sciences, or the humanities to further integrate
their coursework in the atmospheric sciences with knowledge in other technical
fields and with the general concerns of society.
A student may choose the meteorology specialization with the
intent to qualify for employment in the federal civil service as a
meteorologist.Specific course distribution requirements
to do so are listed in the current catalog within the general description of the
Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences. Students in either specialization may pursue
an M.S. degree in Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences without satisfying these requirements and
be qualified for careers in many non-federal and/or non-meteorological careers.
Examples of such career options include research in and applications of remote
sensing techniques; work in air quality either for non-federal government
agencies, or for industry or the consulting firms industries often employ;
research and applications in the environmental sciences with an emphasis on
atmospheric issues, and further graduate work in atmospheric or environmental
Undergraduate students at the School of Mines may decrease
the time required to obtain a Master of Science degree in Atmospheric and
by taking as electives the preparatory undergraduate and entry-level graduate
courses available to them or by completing the Bachelor of Science in
Interdisciplinary Sciences program with a specialization in atmospheric sciences.They may then enter the graduate program with the necessary background
for graduate study in atmospheric sciences as above.
Students typically work directly with faculty on
externally-funded research projects.
Graduate research assistantships associated with these projects are available
that provide part-time employment for students during the academic months and
possible full-time employment during the summer.
Departmental facilities and resources are utilized in these research
efforts.These facilities include
various meteorological instrument platforms and packages including several
automated surface weather stations and laser optical disdrometers.Sophisticated computer facilities are available on campus or can be accessed
elsewhere for research purposes.
urrent research projects include applications of weather radar data to rainfall
measurements and remote inference of cloud microphysical characteristics;
numerical modeling of clouds ranging in size from small cumulus to severe storms
including storm electrification, lightning, and lightning-influenced atmospheric
chemistry; field investigations of thunderstorms; analysis of field observations and numerical simulations of
complex surface ecosystems; land-surface hydrology; satellite remote sensing; land-surface/atmosphere exchange
processes; fire weather prediction and modeling; biogeochemical cycling;
and carbon sequestration and ecological modeling.In addition, the department's faculty are currently involved in
activities to disseminate scientific knowledge to wider audiences and improve
and enhance scientific literacy and educational opportunities.
For more information or to schedule an appointment to visit our department, you may contact:
the Program Assistant Pamela Cox at
Pam.Cox@sdsmt.edu, or phone (605)394-2291.
Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
• 501 East
Saint Joseph Street • Rapid City, SD 57701