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.
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 (optional), and 4) a statement of purpose that discusses past academic and research achievements and how attending graduate school in AOSC fits into your career trajectory.

Submission of GRE scores is optional and not required. The quantitative score is only one of the metrics used to evaluate readiness and mathematical proficiency. This score is not required and does not affect holistic evaluations.


The Resume/CV and Description of Research/Work Experience sections are not required, only the sections with a red bar to the left as stated in the instructions. 

This optional section is for applicants that may have had significant research experience or work experience to expand upon outside of the general 'statement of purpose';  a statement of purpose discusses past academic and research achievements and how attending graduate school in AOSC fits into your career trajectory. 


NEW UPDATED - OCT 31, 2023
The AOSC Department is committed to fostering a brilliant community of people from diverse backgrounds with unique perspectives who can contribute to a stronger learning environment for the entire program.  
Additional personal experience questions have been added in order to ensure a holistic admissions process that attracts, recruits, supports and graduates a diverse cohort of exceptional students.  Applicants are required to answer 1 of the 3 personal prompts; a one page response is sufficient, but is not a limit in length. Please use as much space as needed.

Fall applicants seeking financial support: 

The fall admission application deadline for priority fellowship and assistantship funding is Dec. 1, and for standard graduate assistantship funding opportunities, applications must be submitted no later than Jan. 5. We understand that letters of recommendation and scores may come in after this deadline.  This is ok provided you have started and submitted the application and are able to get the outstanding materials in within 2 weeks of the Dec 1 deadline.  However, it is best to have a complete file by Dec 1. for best funding consideration.  

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 June 4 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 the instructions on the UMD Graduate School website. The application includes a $75 (USD) fee.

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 a 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?

Students must also complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam and can take the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam.  For additional information and requirements, please see:


Summary of important dates




October 25 & November 1: Open House Events (Register)

December 1: Priority application deadline for students who wish to be considered for fellowships or assistantships.

January  5: Standard application deadline for students who wish to be considered for fellowships or assistantships.
March 15: Application deadline for international students not requiring funding.
June 4: Application deadline for domestic students not requiring funding.

Contact information

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