Arts & Sciences Requirements

Students receiving a B.A. in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) must satisfy the basic requirements of the College of Arts & Sciences (MAPS, College Core Curriculum or General Education Curriculum) and fulfill the following minimum college requirements:

  • A total of 120 credits passed. Only 45 credits from any one department can contribute to this total. However, up to 6 credits of designated department honors courses are exempted from this maximum.
  • 45 semester credits must be upper division (courses numbered 3000 to 4000).
  • 2.0 grade point average for all University of Colorado course work.
  • 45 credits must be taken at the University of Colorado after the student has matriculated. 30 of these credits must be upper-division College of Arts and Sciences courses.
  • The requirements for the ATOC major include 34 credits of ancillary science and mathematics, 21 credits of core atmospheric and oceanic science courses, 12 credits of methods in atmospheric and oceanic sciences, and 12 credits of designated upper division electives. All ATOC courses and all required ancillary courses must be passed with a C- or better.

A&S Gen Ed Requirements: All students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the College of Arts and Sciences who enter the college in the fall of 2018 or thereafter must complete the new General Education requirements. Students who entered the college before the fall of 2018 have the option of completing either the new General Education requirements OR the old Core Curriculum.

ATOC majors fulfill the old Core Curriculum and the new General Education Natural Science requirements through courses required for the ATOC major.  ATOC students fulfill the old Core Curriculum and the new General Education Quatitative Reasoning & Mathematical Skills requirements through their required mathematics courses.

A general overview of the degree requirements is provided below.

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Major Requirements

Students are required to satisfy the ancillary foundation coursework (34 credits) in science and mathematics courses. In addition, students are required to satisfy the 45 credits in the lower and upper division ATOC coursework. These are outlined below. All coursework in the major requirements must be passed with a C- or better.

The field of atmospheric and oceanic sciences is highly interdisciplinary; therefore, students must develop a basic understanding of physics, chemistry, and mathematics to be successful. The required courses in the physical sciences and math departments outside of ATOC are a critical part of the major; they are needed to build a strong foundation upon which the remaining curriculum is based.

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.

The following are the general science and mathematics courses that will provide the foundation for coursework in an ATOC major.

Science and Math Requirements (C- or better required; 34 credits).

Ancillary Foundation Coursework
APPM 1350 (4) Calculus 1 for Engineers [or MATH 1300 (5)]
APPM 1360 (4) Calculus 2 for Engineers [or MATH 2300 (5)]
PHYS 1110 (4) General Physics 1 (Calculus Based)
PHYS 1120 (4) General Physics 2 (Calculus Based)
CHEM 1113 (4) General Chemistry 1 
APPM-2350 (4) Calculus 3 for Engineers [or MATH 2400 (4)]
APPM-2360 (4) Introduction to Differential Equations with Linear Algebra [or MATH 3430 (3) plus prerequisites for MATH 3430]
CSCI-1300 (4) Computer Science 1: Starting Computing

Major Requirements in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (C or better required; 45 credits)

The following are part of the introductory atmospheric and oceanic sciences major requirements (3 credits).

Introduction to Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (1 of the following courses)
ATOC 1050 (3) Weather and Atmosphere
ATOC 1060 (3) Our Changing Environment
FYSM 1000 (3) First Year Seminar (ATOC section)

Please also see the ATOC Introductory Course Learning Goals, which apply to the above three courses.

The following are part of the upper division atmospheric and oceanic sciences major requirements (42 credits).

Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Core requirements (3 of the following courses)
ATOC 3050 (3) Principles of Weather
ATOC 3070 (3) Introduction to Oceanography
ATOC 3500 (3) Air Chemistry and Pollution
ATOC 3600 (3) Principles of Climate

Fundamentals of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (3 of the following courses)
ATOC 4200 (3) Biogeochemical Oceanography
ATOC 4710 (3) Introduction to Atmospheric Physics
ATOC 4720 (3) Introduction to Atmospheric Dynamics
ATOC 4730 (3) Physical Oceanography and Climate

Methods in atmospheric and oceanic sciences (12 credits from the following courses, 6 credits of which can be from independent research (4900, 4950 or 4990); some courses offered as ATOC 4500 "Special Topics" may satisfy this requirement)
ATOC 4700 (3) Weather Analysis and Forecasting
ATOC 4XXX (3) Scientific Programming and Data Visualization
ATOC 4XXX (3) Instrument Lab
ATOC 4XXX (3) Remote sensing
ATOC 4XXX (3) Field Observations and Measurements
ATOC 4500 (3) Numerical Methods and Modeling
ATOC 4500 (3) Objective Data Analysis
ATOC 4500 (3) Synoptic Dynamic Meteorology
ATOC 4XXX (3) Applications of Numerical Models
ATOC 4900 (variable credit) Independent Study
ATOC 4950 (variable credit) Honors Thesis

Upper Division Electives (12 credits from the following courses; all courses offered as ATOC 4500 "Special Topics" will satisfy this requirement)
ATOC 3180 (3) Aviation meteorology
ATOC 3300 (3) Analysis of climate and weather observations
ATOC 3720 (3) Planets and their atmospheres
ATOC 4215 (3) Descriptive physical oceanography
ATOC 4550 (3) Mountain meteorology
ATOC 4750 (3) Desert meteorology
ATOC 4770 (3) Wind energy meteorology
ATOC 4800 (3) Climate controversies