Sep 20, 2019  
2012-2013 SDSM&T Academic Catalog 
2012-2013 SDSM&T Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, M.S.

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Contact Information

Dr. Andrew Detwiler (Head)
Department of Atmospheric Sciences
Mineral Industries 205
(605) 394-2291


Professor Detwiler; Emeritus Professors Helsdon, Hjelmfelt and Smith; Associate Professors Capehart, Kliche and Sundareshwar; Assistant Professor French; Instructors Clabo and Farley; Adjunct Professor Stamm;  Adjunct Research Scientist Bunkers.

Atmospheric Sciences

The Department of Atmospheric Sciences offers advanced undergraduate and graduate courses leading to the master of science degree in atmospheric sciences with specializations in meteorology or earth systems science, and the doctor of philosophy degree in atmospheric and environmental sciences (AES). For more information on the AES program please use the following link:  

    Faculty in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences are members of the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences (IAS), an active research group that conducts research with sponsorship from the State of South Dakota and various federal agencies.

The primary objective of the atmospheric sciences graduate program is to give students a basic understanding of the factors influencing atmospheric phenomena, including solar and terrestrial radiation, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, microphysical and electrical processes in clouds, ecology, atmospheric chemistry, and biogeochemistry. Instruction is offered in the interpretation of conventional weather, satellite and radar data; observations collected by specially instrumented aircraft; and output from numerical models of atmospheric processes. The graduate student is expected to carry out original research in the atmospheric sciences using some of these tools and resources. In addition, the student must successfully complete the coursework and program requirements enumerated below.

A student applying for admission to the master‘s degree program in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences should have a baccalaureate degree in meteorology or atmospheric sciences, one of the biological or physical sciences, earth system sciences, mathematics, or engineering. It is desirable for applicants to have received undergraduate credit for mathematics through Calculus 2 (for the earth systems science specialization — see below) or ordinary differential equations (for the meteorology specialization). For the meteorology specialization, undergraduate physics is required, and for the earth systems specialization, undergraduate physics and chemistry are desirable. Experience with computer programming is recommended. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores from the General Test are required for all students except School of Mines graduates. TOEFL scores are required of all applicants from colleges outside the U.S.

Course requirements for the M.S. degree

  1. Fifteen credit hours of coursework in atmospheric sciences at the 500-level or above.
  2. Nine additional credit hours of non-atmospheric sciences electives at the 400-level or above (300-level non-atmospheric sciences courses can be accepted if approved by the Graduate Education and Research Council), or atmospheric sciences electives at the 500-level. (Please note undergraduate credit limitations given under “Advanced Degree Grade Requirements” heading on the    for master of science degrees.)
  3. Thesis research — 6 credit hours.

Other program requirements

The following program requirements apply to all students in atmospheric sciences:

  • Satisfactory performance on a general coursework exam.
  • Registration in ATM 700 Graduate Research (thesis) each semester the student is receiving an assistantship.
  • Registration in ATM 690 Seminar  each spring semester.
  • Completion of a master‘s thesis. The thesis must adhere to the format and content guidelines as set forth by the graduate school, and be approved by the student‘s graduate advisory committee and the Dean of Graduate Education.

In addition, there are requirements specific to the two ATM M.S. specializations. Each student will choose one of these specializations. The requirements are:

Meteorology Specialization

Students entering the program with a bachelor‘s degree in fields outside of atmospheric sciences or meteorology must take the following courses: ATM 450/450L Synoptic Meteorology I/Lab  (not for graduate credit),

 ,  , and  .  Additional coursework may be determined by the student’s graduate committee.  


Earth System Science Specialization

All students will be required to take the following course: 

 .  They also must complete at least one remote sensing course.

Program of Study

A specific plan of study will be determined on an individual basis with concurrence from the student‘s advisor and graduate advisory committee members. In either specialization, exceptions to these departmental requirements may be granted by the student‘s committee for good cause.

Elective courses offered by other departments are encouraged as long as the 15 hours of coursework in atmospheric sciences at the 500-level or above are completed as outlined in course requirements for M.S. degree. Graduate students may take electives in the fields of physics, mathematics, computer science, chemistry, engineering, engineering management, social sciences, or the humanities to further integrate their coursework in the atmospheric sciences with knowledge in other technical fields and with the general concerns of society.

A student may choose the meteorology specialization with the intent to qualify for employment in the federal civil service as a meteorologist. Specific course distribution requirements for these requirements are listed on page 62 earlier in this catalog within the general description of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences. Students in either specialization may pursue an M.S. degree in atmospheric sciences without satisfying these requirements and be qualified for careers in many non-federal and/or non-meteorological careers. Examples of such career options include research in and applications of remote sensing techniques; work in air quality either for non-federal government agencies, or for industry or the consulting firms industries often employ; research and applications in the environmental sciences with an emphasis on atmospheric issues, and further graduate work in atmospheric or environmental sciences.

Undergraduate students at School of Mines may decrease the time required to obtain a master of science degree in atmospheric sciences by taking as electives the preparatory undergraduate and entry-level graduate courses available to them or by completing the bachelor of science in interdisciplinary sciences program with an emphasis on atmospheric sciences. They may then enter the graduate program with the necessary background for graduate study in atmospheric sciences as above.

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