University General Course Catalog 2022-2023 
    Dec 11, 2023  

Atmospheric Science, Ph.D.

Atmospheric Sciences (ATMS) is a research-based interdisciplinary graduate program leading to a master of science (M.S.) or doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. The program is offered through the UNR Department of Physics in partnership with the Desert Research Institute (DRI) Division of Atmospheric Sciences. Students pursue research in air pollution, atmospheric chemistry, climate change, cloud and aerosol physics, instrument development, atmospheric optics and acoustics, mesoscale meteorology, numerical modeling, fire climatology and other topics.

Contact Information

Vera Samburova, Graduate Program Director
(775) 674-7149

Mailing Address:
NNCS 321
Desert Research Institute
Division of Atmospheric Sciences
2215 Raggio Parkway
Reno, NV 89512

Graduate Handbook *

Program Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of theoretical and observational aspects of Atmospheric Sciences.
  • engage with the observational and theoretical aspects of research studies (numerical and graphical analysis of data and modeling results, writing reports, operating and developing instruments, working with models, etc.).
  • demonstrate achievement in communication skills.

Admission Requirements

It is strongly recommended that an applicant have a master’s degree in an aspect of atmospheric sciences, physical sciences, chemistry, engineering, mathematics or a related field, and at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average in prior academic coursework.

Completion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is recommended.

I. Program Requirements

B. Seminar (2 units)

Complete two units in ATMS 790 or one unit in both ATMS 790 and PHYS 790.

C. Elective (23-31 units)

Electives must include at least 18 units at the 700-level, 6 units of which must be in ATMS courses.

D. Comprehensive Examination (1 unit)

Students must pass a Comprehensive Exam for advancement to candidacy after the majority of their coursework has been completed. The examination consists of a detailed research prospectus (written exam) that must be completed to the satisfaction of the student’s graduate advisory committee. The oral qualifying examination is the presentation of the prospectus to the general public followed by questions from the graduate advisory committee (deadline: end of the 3rd semester).

E. Dissertation (12-20 units)

The completion of a dissertation and a final oral examination is required, and these are directed by the student’s graduate advisory committee.

II. Total Units (60 units)


  1. If the Core courses or their equivalent were taken at the undergraduate level at UNR or another university, then other ATMS graduate level courses may be substituted with the approval of the graduate program director. Graduate-level course credits required for a Ph.D. degree should be fulfilled with ATMS and related interdisciplinary courses selected by the student and the graduate advisory committee to reach the student’s academic and research goals.
  2. Research and teaching assistantships are available on a competitive basis. Most students obtain financial support from one of these sources. Summer research positions also are available at the Desert Research Institute (DRI). These positions provide excellent research opportunities as well as income for students.
  3. At least 18 units of 700-level (not including dissertation units) are required.
  4. * Curriculum requirements in the catalog supersede the Graduate handbook.