Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

Graduate Degree Program(s)

Graduate Degrees in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science

The interdisciplinary Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) provides an educational and research environment to examine the dynamical, physical, and chemical processes that occur in the atmosphere and the ocean. A major theme is the establishment of a physical basis for understanding, observing, and modeling climate and global change. Graduate students, research staff, and faculty work together on a wide range of research topics, such as large-scale dynamics of ocean and atmosphere, air-sea interaction, radiative transfer and remote sensing of ocean and atmosphere, sea ice and its role in climate, cloud-climate interactions, atmospheric chemistry and aerosols, atmospheric technology, extended weather and climate prediction, hydrological processes, and boundary-layer measurement and modeling.

See the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences departmental listing for further graduate degree information.

Certificate Program

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Certificates

In addition to doctoral and master’s degrees, ATOC offers graduate certificates in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) and Oceanography. Students majoring in atmospheric and oceanic sciences or other associated departments may wish to consider obtaining one of these certificates to emphasize on their vita that they have specialized in that additional area. Students who are not enrolled in a graduate degree program, but have received a BA or BS degree and meet the course prerequisites may also enroll in courses to obtain the ATOC Certificate or the Oceanography Certificate through the ACCESS program of Continuing Education.

Graduate Certificate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC)

Students who wish to obtain the Graduate Certificate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) must complete a four ATOC graduate level courses* or their cross-listed equivalents (i.e., ATOC 5151 or CHEM 5151) provided the cross-listed equivalents are not offered through the student’s home department(s). To satisfactorily complete a course, students must earn a grade of B or better.

*ATOC graduate level courses are considered those above the 5000 level. ATOC 5000 Critical Issues in Climate and the Environment cannot be applied towards the ATOC certificate requirements.

Students must meet course prerequisites prior to enrollment. Most of the ATOC Graduate Certificate courses require at least one year of calculus and one year of calculus-based physics.

Upon Completion of the ATOC Graduate Certificate requirements, students must complete a Graduate Certificate Request Form and submit it, together with a copy of their unofficial CU transcript, to the ATOC graduate program assistant (

Graduate Certificate in Oceanography

Students who wish to obtain the Graduate Certificate in Oceanography must complete at least three oceanography core courses (see below) passed with a letter grade of B or better. In addition, students may take an independent study course to replace one of the core courses.

Courses for the Oceanography Certificate

  • ATOC 5051 Introduction to Physical Oceanography
  • ATOC 5061 Dynamics of Oceans
  • ASEN/ATOC 5215/4215 Descriptive Physical Oceanography
  • ASEN 5307/4307 Engineering Data Analysis Methods
  • ASTR/ATOC 5400 Introduction to Fluid Dynamics
  • ASTR/ATOC 5410 Fluid Instabilities, Waves, and Turbulence
  • GEOL 5060 Oceanography
  • GEOL 5270 Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry
  • GEOL 5430 Paleoceangraphy and Paleoclimatology

For additional information about the ATOC Certificate or the Oceanography Certificate, contact the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, 311 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0311, 303-492-7167 or