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The Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS) offers graduate study under the sponsorship of the Department of Geosciences. The Princeton AOS graduate program emphasizes theoretical studies and numerical model studies of the global climate system, and applicants are expected to have a strong background in natural sciences and mathematics.
The AOS program benefits from the research capabilities of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Many GFDL scientists are active in the AOS program as lecturers, and major supercomputer resources within GFDL are accessible to students for their research. The Department of Geosciences, with its activities in physical and chemical oceanography, paleoclimatology and atmospheric sciences, collaborates with GFDL in providing a comprehensive program of courses and seminars.
The flexible graduate program offers students opportunities for research and courses in a wide range of disciplines, including geophysical fluid dynamics, atmospheric physics, atmospheric chemistry, biogeochemistry of the land and ocean, atmospheric modeling, ocean modeling, climate dynamics, global climate change and paleo-climate. Through the Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP) Program at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and the Princeton Environmental Institute, students can explore climate- and air pollution-related policy.
Upon entering the program, students are advised by the graduate work committee until they select an adviser from the program staff. The plan of study is flexible and is tailored to the needs of the individual, but during the first two years it normally concentrates on course work and independent preparation for the general examination. A student usually takes seven to ten courses during the first two years to prepare for the general examination.
The general examination probes the student’s knowledge of basic fluid dynamics, physics, and chemistry of the atmosphere and oceans and certain specialty areas through written examinations and a research seminar presentation. The purpose of the research seminar is to demonstrate the student’s ability to work independently and analyze a research problem.
The general examination is normally administered in the spring of the second year. This exam consists of two parts. Students take a written examination covering the basics of meteorology, oceanography and geophysical fluid dynamics. Each student is also asked to give an hour-long seminar in which he/she presents and defends his/her work on an original research problem, demonstrating the ability to work independently and analyze a research problem.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree on the way to full Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after a student successfully completes all course work and passes the written portion of the general examination. It may also be awarded to students who, for various reasons, leave the Ph.D. program, provided that these requirements have been met.
Students are encouraged to teach as an assistant in instruction (AI) for two semesters during their time at Princeton, and teaching for one semester is strongly encouraged but not required. Teaching normally comes after the general examination, in the third and fourth years in the program.
When students pass the general examination, they then pursue research for the Ph.D. thesis. This may or may not be a continuation of the research that was used as the basis for a student's general examination seminar. Students who enter the program with a background in atmospheric and oceanic sciences are encouraged to finish their thesis at the end of their fourth year in the program. Each thesis must be approved by the student's faculty adviser (1st reader) and a second faculty member (as the 2nd reader). Students defend their thesis at the final public oral examination. Final acceptance of the dissertation is conditional on passing this examination.
The dissertation must show that a candidate has technical mastery in the chosen field and is capable of independent research. The dissertation is expected to be a positive contribution that is of publishable quality. The final public oral examination is a broad examination in the field of study.
Stephan A. Fueglistaler
Thomas L. Delworth, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Leo J. Donner, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Stephan A. Fueglistaler, Geosciences
Stephen T. Garner, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Stephen Griffies, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Robert W. Hallberg, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Isaac M. Held, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Larry W. Horowitz, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Sonya A. Legg, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Geosciences
Yi Ming, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Venkatachalam Ramaswamy, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Laure Resplandy, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Jorge L. Sarmiento, Geosciences
Gabriel A. Vecchi, Geosciences, Princeton Environmental Institute
Rong Zhang, Geosciences, Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
Denise L. Mauzerall, Woodrow Wilson School, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Michael Oppenheimer, Woodrow Wilson School, Geosciences
Stephen W. Pacala, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
James A. Smith, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Mark Zondlo, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Courses listed below are graduate-level courses that have been approved by the program’s faculty as well as the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School as permanent course offerings. Permanent courses may be offered by the department or program on an ongoing basis, depending on curricular needs, scheduling requirements, and student interest. Not listed below are undergraduate courses and one-time-only graduate courses, which may be found for a specific term through the Registrar’s website. Also not listed are graduate-level independent reading and research courses, which may be approved by the Graduate School for individual students.