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Meteorology Degree Programs

A degree in meteorology or atmospheric science lets you investigate how and why weather patterns form. Continue reading for information about what you can learn in undergraduate and graduate degree programs and jobs you may attain upon graduating.

What Meteorology Programs Exist?

You can study meteorology and atmospheric science at the associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Your career goal will generally determine the level of education you'll need to pursue. Since the training in these programs usually requires hands-on use of meteorological equipment, any online options might require completion of previous college courses or military experience in the field. However, a few schools offer fully and partially online certificate and degree programs in general meteorological science, broadcasting or operational meteorology.

Degree LevelGraduate or undergraduate
Undergraduate CoursesWeather systems, aviation and marine meteorology, thermodynamics, cartography, climatology
Graduate SpecializationsOceanic or atmospheric science
Possible CareersTechnical meteorology assistant, climatologist, environmental lobbyist, atmospheric scientist or oceanic engineer
Median Salary (2018)$94,110 (Atmospheric Scientists, Including Meteorologists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)12% growth (Atmospheric Scientists, Including Meteorologists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Will I Study In An Undergraduate Program?

An associate degree program usually prepares you to continue your education in a bachelor's program, though you might qualify for entry-level jobs in government, television or private industry. Associate-level courses cover introductory education in weather systems, causes and geographical patterns. You'll learn about regional climates, how weather works and how to predict weather patterns.

A bachelor's degree program's primary goal is to teach you how the atmosphere and the Earth's environment react to each other. Courses cover the composition of the atmosphere, such as temperature, humidity and air pressure and how these create hot and cold fronts, storms and clouds. Some common course topics include:

  • Aviation and marine meteorology
  • Weather measurement, analysis and forecasting
  • Thermodynamics
  • Cartography
  • Climatology
  • Atmospheric probability
  • Kinetic theory
  • Geophysical precipitation

What Will a Graduate Program Teach Me?

Some graduate schools offer dual master's and doctoral programs to provide you with research opportunities in a particular specialty, such as oceanic science. You could also choose to earn a professional or applied science master's degree that prepares you to enter the workforce by providing practical application to your studies rather than centering on research. These types of programs cover how to calculate weather variables to provide accurate forecasts, profiling atmospheric conditions for long-range predictions and geographical influences on weather patterns.

Research programs spend more time looking at meteorology as a science and teach you different experimental methods, as well as how to analyze data. You might opt to focus on a specialty in atmospheric science and study cloud processes, hydrology, atmospheres of other planets or global climatology. You'll evaluate weather prediction techniques, including computer applications in meteorology, meoscale forecasting, modeling systems, air sampling and remote sensing, seeking to improve on forecast accuracy or advanced warning systems.

What Kind of Jobs Can I Qualify For?

With an undergraduate degree in meteorology, you could join a broadcasting meteorological team or work as a technical meteorology assistant in private business or government agencies. Your could use your forecasting and meteorological skills in aviation, transportation, shipping, agriculture and military operations.

A few career options you can choose from with a graduate degree include climatologist, environmental lobbyist, atmospheric scientist or oceanic engineer. You might also consider working in research in air pollution, ozone depletion or storm trends. With a doctoral degree, you can qualify to teach at the postsecondary level.