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How do you know if AOSC is a good fit for you?


The AOSC department consistently ranks among the top atmospheric and oceanic sciences departments in the US, and our students further benefit from our unique location in the Washington D.C. area, where we foster close connections with NOAA, NASA, and other earth-science institutes. To help applicants learn more about the department, the AOSC admissions committee is hosting a virtual admissions “open house” series this fall. Each open house will include an introduction by select faculty members and graduate students and an open forum for discussing the AOSC program. These events are also a great opportunity to learn more about the admissions process and life in the DC area. For the fall 2020 semester, the open house will take place at 4 pm (eastern time) on October 23, November 6, November 17.
All prospective students are welcome to attend these events. If interested, please send an email to Ellen Buckley ( with the subject line “Admissions Open House.” In the main body of the email, be sure to mention one or more dates that you would like to participate in these events.


What are the application requirements and deadlines?

Students must have successfully completed an undergraduate bachelor’s degree (or foreign equivalent) by the time of enrollment. They must also submit a completed graduate application, which includes: 1) unofficial academic transcripts from all prior institutions, 2) three reference letters, 3) an up-to-date resume, and 4) a statement of purpose, which discusses past academic and research achievements and how attending graduate school in AOSC fits into their career trajectory.

We no longer accept GRE scores on graduate applications. Any scores reported in an application will be redacted.

Fall applicants seeking financial support:

For an applicant to be considered for a fellowship or an assistantship, they must apply by December 1. Applications received after this deadline, but before December 15 will still be accepted and considered for assistantships only.

Fall applicants not seeking financial support:

In a very limited number of cases self-funded applicants may be considered for admission. We highly recommend all applicants meet the above deadlines, however for those students who do not need financial support the application deadlines are March 15 for international students and July 15 for domestic students.

Spring applicants

Spring admission can be granted to advanced applicants by special permission. Please contact the AOSC department for additional information.

How do I apply?

Follow instructions on the UMD Graduate School website. The application includes a $75 (USD) fee. The University of Maryland Graduate School waives application fees to eligible students in participating programs. See the UMD Graduate School Fee Waiver Information and Eligibility page for more details.

What preparation do typical AOSC students have prior to enrollment?

Graduate students enrolled in AOSC tend to have one or more undergraduate or graduate degrees in atmospheric science, meteorology, oceanography, mathematics, physics, chemistry, or engineering. They tend to have prior research experience from an internship, undergraduate thesis project, or advanced coursework. Most students also have experience writing software in a major computer language (e.g., Fortran, Python), which they acquired through formal training in classes or through prior employment or research experiences. The above however are only general guidelines, and backgrounds and experiences vary widely among students. We recommend potential applicants review the AOSC graduate course descriptions, and consider their preparation for these courses.

How are applications evaluated?


When reviewing applications, the AOSC graduate admissions committee places a large emphasis on grades earned in upper-level science and math courses, prior research experience, technical skills (e.g., computer programming), and recommendation letters. Top applicants may also be asked to participate in virtual interviews. These interviews are expected to begin in early January and will allow students another opportunity to showcase aspects of their graduate school preparation beyond traditional application materials. Recommendation letters from faculty members who are able to speak directly to an applicant’s preparation and capability for graduate school are highly recommended. We also carefully consider applicants’ personal statements. It is helpful if these statements speak directly to the applicant’s interest in graduate school at AOSC, addressing any relevant factors that may not be evident on the academic transcript, and specifying the candidate’s area of research interest and potential faculty advisors.


How are students supported?


Most graduate students are supported through a graduate assistantship: either a teaching assistantship (TA) or research assistantship (RA). RA positions are typically sponsored by one or more faculty members. We strongly encourage prospective students to reach out to potential academic advisors if they are interested in being supported by an RA in the first year of graduate school. 

What are the additional requirements for international students?

International students must apply for an F-1 (not J-1) visa.

Students must also complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam with a minimum score of 80 for the internet-based version. Admitted students who score below a 100 on the TOEFL exam are required to take an English course at UMD. Alternatively, students can take the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam and score no less than Band 7 (total). For additional information, see


Summary of important dates

December 1: Preferred application deadline for students who wish to be considered for fellowships or assistantships.
December 15: Final application deadline for assistantship consideration.
March 15: Application deadline for international students not requiring funding.
July 15: Application deadline for domestic students not requiring funding.

Contact information

For general information about AOSC or the application process please contact us at