Master of Professional Studies
This graduate degree is designed for working professionals who need cutting-edge skills and knowledge in atmospheric and oceanic science, air quality & computational methods.
It offers the rigor required to understand scientific advances in the field and the flexibility needed by individuals to customize the curriculum towards their educational goals.


The degree is earned by successful completion of ten 3-credit courses. Students complete two out of the following three certificate programs, each of which consists of four courses, plus two courses from the remaining certificate program.


Click through the links below to learn more about each certificate.

Computational Methods in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science

This certificate consists of the following three courses:

AOSC630 Statistical Methods in Meteorology and Oceanography
Parametric and non-parametric tests; time series analysis and filtering; wavelets. Multiple regression and screening; neural networks. Empirical orthogonal functions and teleconnections. Statistical weather and climate prediction, including MOS, constructed analogs. Ensemble forecasting and verification.
AOSC652 Analysis Methods in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science
A variety of the analysis methods used by atmospheric and oceanic scientists will be applied to observational data sets such as Vostok ice core record, temperature trends, and satellite measurements of ozone, sea ice, etc in a hands-on, computer laboratory setting. Students will be exposed to Fortran, IDL, and Matlab as well as modern file formats such as HDF and netCDF. No prior programming experience required.
AOSC684 Climate System Modeling
Fundamentals in building computer models to simulate the components of the climate system: atmosphere, ocean ice, land-surface, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and the biogeochemical cycles embedded in the physical climate system, in particular, the carbon cycle. Simple to state-of-the-art research models to tackle problems such as the Daisy World, El Nino and global warming.

Plus one elective chosen from:

AOSC614 Atmospheric Modeling, Data Assimilation and Predictability
Solid foundation for atmospheric and oceanic modeling and numerical weather prediction: numerical methods for partial differential equations, an introduction to physical parameterizations, modern data assimilation, and predictability.
AOSC615 Advanced Data Assimilation for the Earth Sciences
An overview of the most important methods of data assimilation. Theory, techniques and strategies of these methods, as well as their possible drawbacks. Hands-on experimentation with variational and other data assimilation systems.

Prerequisites: MATH141, STAT400 or permission of department.

General Atmospheric and Oceanic Science

This certificate consists of the following four courses:

AOSC431 Atmospheric Thermodynamics
Classical thermodynamics applied to both the dry and the moist atmosphere. Composition; phase changes of water; stability concepts; Properties of aerosols and clouds, cloud nucleation and precipitation processes, atmospheric electricity, cloud and precipitation chemistry.
AOSC432 Large Scale Atmospheric Dynamics
Equations of motion and their approximation, scale analysis for the atmosphere and the ocean. Conservation properties. Fluid motion in the atmosphere and oceans. Circulation and vorticity, geostrophic motion and the gradient wind balance. Turbulence and Ekman Layers. Kinematics, balanced and unbalanced flows, vorticity and potential vorticity, and introduction to the boundary layer and numerical weather prediction. Ocean currents and tides.
AOSC617 Atmospheric and Oceanic Climate
The general circulation of the atmosphere and oceans, historical perspective, observations,and conceptual models; wind-driven and thermohaline circulation of the oceans. Seasonal cycle and monsoon circulations; interannual to interdecadal climate variability; climate change.
AOSC670 Physical Oceanography
Ocean observations. Water masses, sources of deep water. Mass, heat, and salt transport, geochemical tracers. Western boundary currents, maintenance of the thermocline.Coastal and estuarine processes. Surface waves and tides. Ocean climate.

Prerequisites: MATH241, MATH461, PHYS270, PHYS271, CHEM103 or permission of department.

Air Quality Science and Technology

This certificate consists of the following two courses:

AOSC600 Synoptic Meteorology I
Atmospheric properties and observations, meteorological analysis and charts, operational numerical forecasts. Application of quasigeostrophic theory, baroclinic instability, midlatitude and mesoscale weather systems. Tropical meteorology.
AOSC624 Remote Sensing of Surface Climate
The theory and principles of remote sensing as applicable to earth observing satellites. Discussed will be current methods to interpret satellite observations into useful climate parameters. Emphasis will be placed on parameters that provide information about the climate close to the earth surface, and that can be inferred on regional to global scales. Examples are: surface temperature and reflectivity, radiation budgets, soil moisture, and vegetation cover.

Plus two electives chosen from:

AOSC625 Remote Sensing of the Atmosphere
Atmospheric radiative transfer applied to satellite observations. Physical basis of remote inference. Inference of surface temperature from satellite radiation measurements. Inference of temperature and moisture soundings (retrievals) from satellite radiation measurements. Errors in satellite retrievals. Applications and implications to numerical weather simulation and prediction.
AOSC637 Air Chemistry
Application of the techniques of thermodynamics, kinetics, spectroscopy and photochemistry to atmospheric gases and particles. Investigation of the global cycles of C, H, O, N, and S species; the use of laboratory and field measurements in computer models of the atmosphere.
AOSC633 Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate
The effects of human activity on atmospheric composition, focused on global warming, the carbon cycle, air pollution, and the ozone layer. Fundamentals of atmospheric chemistry (spectroscopy, kinetics, isotopic analysis, and biogeochemical cycles) are related to the modern understanding of climate change, air quality, and ozone depletion, based on resources such as satellite missions, field campaigns, and scientific assessments published by international agencies. We also examine how society's energy needs could be met, in the future, in a manner with less impact on atmospheric composition than the present heavy reliance on combusion of fossil fuels.

Prerequisites: CHEM131, MATH241 or permission of department.


Students in this program pay a special tuition rate, which does not differ between residents and non-residents of Maryland. This rate is not fully covered by graduate assistantships, fellowships or the tuition remission. Additional graduate student fees are charged. Tuition and fees are subject to change.

Fall 2013 & Spring 2014:

  • Application Fee: $60 (nonrefundable)
  • Tuition: $605.00 per credit hour
  • Mandatory Fees:
  • Textbooks: Vary by course and are not included in the tuition and fees

Fellowships for NOAA Employees

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration supports graduate study by its employees through fellowship programs.

Federal government requirements for a position as meteorologist are listed here, and the requirements for an oceanographer are here.

Click for Additional Parking and Registration Information

Parking Fees

Click here to access the Department of Transportation Services Web site for parking permit information. Parking permits are NOT required on campus for classes that beginafter 4 p.m.

Late Registration

Most students will follow the plan as described above. These students will be automatically enrolled for most courses and notified by email of the enrollment. For students who are not following the schedule, registration must be complete prior to the first day of class to avoid a penalty. A late fee of $20 will be assessed for registrations initiated on or after the first day of the course. Late registrants are responsible for payment of tuition and fees at the time of registration.

Note: Only students with prior permission from the Director may take courses outside the above plan. This is only allowed in situations where hardship would result if required to follow the schedule.

Cancellation of registration

Students who register for courses but later decide not to participate must cancel their registration prior to the first day of class. Notification of cancellation may be done online at Testudo. Failure to cancel registration prior to the first day of class will result in a financial obligation to the university regardless of student participation in courses. This includes all students automatically registered according to the cohort schedule.

Withdrawal from the program or from one or more courses

To withdraw from the program or to cancel registration in one or more courses, use the testudo website at Testudo. Withdrawals are effective the date the request is received. Students may withdraw from a course at any time during the term without academic penalty, however, withdrawals are recorded on transcripts.

Academic service fees are nonrefundable when a student withdraws from a course. Tuition refunds are granted based on this schedule:

  • There is a 100% refund for classes canceled prior to the first day of the course.
  • There is a 70% refund for withdrawals processed within the first week (seven calendar days) from the first day of the course.
  • There is a 50% refund for withdrawals processed within the first two weeks (14 calendar days) from the first day of the course.
  • There is no refund granted for withdrawals processed after the first two weeks (14 calendar days or more) from the first day of the course.
Tuition refund policy

The University of Maryland will not automatically refund a credit balance. However, the student may request a refund by emailing the bursar or by calling 1-888-313-2404. Credit card payments are refunded by crediting the original credit card account. Refund requests are usually completed within two to three weeks from the date the request is received.

Courses cancelled by the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland reserves the right to cancel courses due to insufficient enrollment or other administrative reasons. Once a course is cancelled, students enrolled in the course are entitled to a full refund of the tuition and fees associated with that class. The university makes every effort to inform students of such changes as early as possible so there is an opportunity to make alternate course selections.

How to Apply


A recommended undergraduate background includes calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, calculus-based physics, and general chemistry.

All students must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university in the US or an equivalent degree attained in a foreign country. A GPA of 3.0 (out of 4.0) is typically required.

The GRE is not required to apply for the Master of Professional Studies program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science.

International Students

International students must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and apply for a J-1 (not F-1) visa.


Students are admitted to the program only for the Fall Term.

  • Deadline for applications for International students: January 15
  • Deadline for applications for U.S. citizens and permanent residents: March 15*

* U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have completed the prerequisites may apply as late as August 1 and will be considered as long as there is room in the program. However, earlier applications are encouraged.

Application Process

To apply, go the graduate school application page, and follow the instructions for applying for graduate study, choosing the option "M. Prof. Studies: Atmospheric & Oceanic Sci & Tech - MPAO"

Note: Even though the supplemental application requires letters of references, we only need the names of the references on the application itself.


For additional assistance or information, contact:

AOSC Professional Studies Coordinator
Tammy Hendershot
mps at