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Degree Requirements

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All graduate degree programs in the Graduate Field of Atmospheric Science are individualized to suit students' interests, backgrounds, and goals.  Students must, however, satisfy certain university and Field requirements, either through prior work at another institution or through work at Cornell.  Each student works closely with a Major Professor and a graduate Special Committee.  This group of faculty members determines the degree requirements consistent with each student's individual training and academic goals. Students can obtain either an M.S. or Ph.D.

M.S. students must earn at least two units of residence credit, and complete one minor.  One residency unit is granted for each satisfactory semester of full-time study.  Students must pass the M.S. defense exam, and submit a thesis acceptable to the student's Special Committee and to the Graduate School. (Please see the Cornell Graduate School web site for more detailed information, including time limits imposed on forming committees, taking exams, and completing the degree.) 

Students must earn at least six units of residence credit, and complete two minors, for the Ph.D.  One residency unit is granted for each satisfactory semester of full-time study.  Students must pass an "A exam" to attain Ph.D. candidacy, and a "B exam" to defend their Ph.D. thesis.  As part of the “A exam” we encourage students to demonstrate their ability to complete research and write a paper, as well as defend a thesis proposal.  Some students in the Field will be required to pass an oral "Q exam", usually after the first year of study, that tests their basic knowledge in the Atmospheric Sciences.  Students must also submit a thesis acceptable to the student's Special Committee and to the Graduate School.  Often, but not always, Ph.D. theses in our Field take advantage of the papers option for the thesis (please see the Cornell Graduate School web site for more detailed information).