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. 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 position as a university in the center of a world-renowned mecca for earth system science. 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

The ATOC faculty undergraduate advisors are:
Associate Professor Katja Friedrich
Office: SEEC N241B
Associate Professor John Cassano
Office: SEEC C279

Academic Advising Center for first year students in Physical Sciences:
Laura Gonzalez
Christopher Swenson

Academic Advising Center for ATOC majors beyond first year:
Brendan Griffiths
Gretchen Lang

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

The ATOC Course Catalog can be found at