Bachelor of Arts in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences

The Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) began offering an undergraduate major in fall 2016. This degree is the first of its kind at the University of Colorado Boulder for students interested in an in-depth understanding of the physical basis for the role of the atmosphere and oceans in Earth’s climate system. ATOC majors apply investigative thinking to solve critical natural science problems rooted in the physical processes of the atmospheric and ocean, employing approaches that emphasize scientific theory, empirical data, modeling, and computational data analysis. ATOC majors can communicate scientific concepts clearly and elegantly, act with professional integrity, and are prepared for a diverse set of careers. An ATOC degree will prepare students to pursue a wide range of careers in areas as diverse as the energy sector, insurance, military, air and water quality monitoring, weather, and aerospace industries. It will provide a solid foundation for advanced degrees in the atmospheric and oceanic sciences, and for professions in scientific research and academia.

ATOC’s  curriculum responds to demands of current students for more interactive learning opportunities and to demands of employers for graduates who have been trained to provide quantitative solutions to real-world problems. It is designed to provide students with a core set of knowledge and skills related to atmospheric and oceanic sciences, and to engage students in hands-on, interactive learning early and often. To that end, it requires students to take several "methods" courses that emphasize quantitative problem-solving by focusing on some combination of data analysis, observations, and/or modeling; all of these courses will incorporate some level of computer programming or scientific computing.  ATOC strongly recommends that every student have a laptop computer if it is financially feasible. Students who intend to purchase a computer and wish to have its cost included in their financial aid calculations are strongly encouraged to consult the Office of Financial Aid before purchase.

ATOC’s curriculum is also designed to take advantage of our unique location in a region having the greatest concentration of geophysical researchers in the nation and perhaps the world.. Scientists from the local community contribute their expertise to the ATOC curriculum, particularly in the interactive methods courses, and mentor seniors in their thesis research. 

We urge continuing CU Boulder students to contact the department (see contact information below) to determine if the ATOC major will be appropriate for their academic pursuits.

Contact Information

Director of Undergraduate Education
Dr. Derek Brown
Office: SEEC N233

First Year Advising Liaison: Beth Hesse

Academic Advising Center ATOC departmental advisor: Tabs Lannom

Academic Advising Center ATOC departmental advisor: Elizabeth Pike

Academic Coash: Maurissa Moore

For information about the transfer credit process, please visit Or, if you have specific questions related to transfer credit, please feel free to email

For further information concerning undergraduate studies, contact ATOC’s Graduate and Undergraduate Program Assistant Laurie Conway (

The ATOC Course Catalog can be found at