The Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (ATOC) offers an undergraduate minor for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in another academic department. Students who successfully complete a major at CU-Boulder in a quantitative field, such as physics or chemistry, and a minor in ATOC, will be prepared for graduate work in atmospheric and oceanic sciences. The ATOC minor is offered through the College of Arts and Sciences and is noted on the official CU-Boulder transcript.

Although the ATOC minor is primarily designed for students who are interested in developing a knowledge base in atmospheric and oceanic sciences with an emphasis on Earth’s climate, there is considerable latitude within the minor program for students to design a course of study that is tailored to their individual interests.

Students who wish to declare the ATOC minor should contact the ATOC Undergraduate & Graduate Program Assistant at atocasst@colorado.edu or 303-492-6633.  If you have questions regarding coursework or need advising, please contact the ATOC Minor Advisor, Dr. John Cassano (john.cassano@colorado.edu).

Course Requirements

A total of 18 credit hours is required for the minor, at least 9 of which must be upper-division credit hours (see list below). The other 9 may be either lower-division or upper-division or a combination.  All coursework applied to the minor must be completed with a grade of C- or better (no pass/fail work may be applied). The grade point average for all minor degree work must be equal to 2.00 (C) or higher. Coursework applied toward a minor may also be applied toward general education (core curriculum or college list) and major requirements. Students are allowed to apply no more than 9 credit hours, including 6 upper-division credit hours, of transfer work to a minor.

Lower Division Coursework

  • ATOC 1050: Weather and the Atmosphere*
  • ATOC 1060: Our Changing Environment*

Upper Division Coursework

  • ATOC 3050: Principles of Weather*
  • ATOC/GEOL 3070: Intro to Oceanography*
  • ATOC 3180: Aviation Meteorology*
  • ATOC 3300: Analysis of Climate and Weather Observations*
  • ATOC 3500/CHEM 3151: Air Chemistry and Pollution*
  • ATOC 3600/ENVS 3600/GEOG 3601: Principles of Climate*
  • ATOC/ASTR 3720: Planets and Their Atmospheres
  • ATOC 4200: Biogeochemical Oceanography
  • ATOC/ASEN 4215: Descriptive Physical Oceanography
  • ATOC 4500: Special Topics
  • ATOC 4550: Mountain Meteorology*
  • ATOC 4700: Weather Analysis & Forecasting*
  • ATOC 4710: Introduction to Atmospheric Physics
  • ATOC 4720: Introduction to Atmospheric Dyanmics
  • ATOC 4730: Physical Oceanography and Climate
  • ATOC 4750: Desert Meteorology*
  • ATOC 4770: Wind Energy Meteorology*
  • ATOC 4800: Policy Implications of Climate Controversies
  • ATOC 4900: Independent Study

* Note: These classes fulfill Arts & Sciences Core Curriculum: Natural Science.

Sample Tracks in ATOC Minor Program

The ATOC minor is especially appropriate for Environmental Studies majors with a climate specialization, Physics (Plan 2) majors with a concentration in atmospheric physics, and environmental aerospace engineering majors, however students in other major programs are welcome to pursue the ATOC minor provided they meet the course prerequisites.

Environmental Studies or Geography Majors

  • ATOC 1050: Weather and the Atmosphere
  • ATOC 1060: Our Changing Environment
  • ATOC 3300: Analysis of Climate and Weather Observations
  • ATOC 3600: Principles of Climate
  • ATOC 4800: Policy Implications of Climate Controversies
  • Plus one additional advanced level course

Geology Majors

  • ATOC 1050: Weather and the Atmosphere
  • ATOC 1060: Our Changing Environment
  • ATOC 3070: Intro to Oceanography
  • ATOC 3500: Air Chemistry and Pollution
  • ATOC 4200: Biogeochemical Oceanography
  • Plus one additional advanced level course

Physics (Plan 2) or Engineering Majors

  • ATOC 3500: Air Chemistry and Pollution         
  • ATOC 3600: Principles of Climate         
  • ATOC 3720: Planets and Their Atmospheres         
  • ATOC 4215: Descriptive Physical Oceanography         
  • ATOC 4720: Intro to Atmospheric Dynamics*      
  • ATOC 4750: Desert Meteorology         

* Physics and engineering majors are encouraged to take ATOC 4720 in their junior year, and a graduate-level ATOC course such as ATOC 5400 (Introduction to Fluid Dynamics), ATOC 5060 (Dynamics of the Atmosphere), or ATOC 5235 (Intro to Atmospheric Radiative Transfer and Remote Sensing) in their senior year.

The ATOC Course Catalog can be found at https://catalog.colorado.edu/courses-a-z/atoc/