Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan

Doctoral Program

The Climate & Space PhD Program is an integrated study designed to give students first a broad base of knowledge in atmospheric, space and planetary sciences followed by more in-depth, concentrated studies in specific areas. The Climate & Space doctoral program is small, and all PhD students are fully supported by faculty research and/or fellowships. There is no guessing as to the research or faculty as students are paired with a faculty member upon admission.

Climate & Space Research and Faculty

For more than 60 years, Climate & Space has been contributing to the development of atmospheric and space sciences, through research sponsored by NASA, NSF, DoD and other governmental and non-governmental agencies. This support has contributed to the education of the next generation of scientists, engineers and managers that the nation needs to continue being the “leaders and the best” in the future.

Areas of Climate & Space Research in Atmospheric and Space Sciences are far-ranging. The proven blending of these disciplines has put Climate & Space faculty and students at the forefront of the necessary movement in climate, geoscience and space research to understand the Earth, atmosphere, planets, solar system and space weather in a whole systemic view, rather than individual components.

The Climate & Space distinguished body of senior faculty, internationally renowned in their fields of study, have been recognized by their peers with numerous honors. Their illustrious reputations have attracted some of the most talented junior faculty to the department where they are involved in cutting edge atmospheric and space research.

Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering

The standard Climate & Space doctoral program, and the one in which nearly all of our PhD students are enrolled is the Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering degree program (Program Code 02220). Students receive a comprehensive battery of courses spanning these disciplines as well as the necessary physics, chemistry and mathematics. The students also get in-depth coursework in their particular specialty, whether it is fluid dynamics, atmospheric chemistry, climate physics, planetary science, or space plasmas.

Offered as an option, is a concentration in Geoscience and Remote Sensing, which explores the science and engineering behind remote measurements from space of the structure, composition and dynamics of Earth and planetary atmospheres and their underlying surface.

General Program Requirements

The Climate & Space PhD Programs are integrated studies designed to give students first a broad base of study in atmospheric, space and planetary sciences followed by more in-depth, concentrated studies in specific areas. More specific information can be found on the two program pages. There are four levels of courses required of Climate & Space doctoral students:

  • Departmental Core Courses: Required of all Climate & Space PhD students.
  • Further courses relevant to research: A minimum of five Climate & Space courses plus non-Climate & Space courses that are worthwhile and support your area of research.
  • The Rackham School of Graduate Studies imposes a cognate requirement that each student take a minimum of four (4) credit hours of coursework in a different department. Climate & Space requires that these courses be non-seminar courses and not be courses cross-listed with Climate & Space.


The deadline for the Fall doctoral student cohort is December 15. Climate & Space doctoral students are fully supported through research funding and/or fellowships, therefore there are a limited number of opening for doctoral students each year. It is recommended that you submit your application early to ensure that it arrives on or before the deadline. If your application will be significantly delayed, please contact Sandra Pytlinski to discuss your situation. Information about the cost of attending the University of Michigan is available from The Office of Registrar.

An MS degree is not needed for entry into the Climate & Space PhD programs. Most PhD students receive an MS degree upon completing the qualilfying exam. Applicants interested in only a MS degree should visit the Master of Science Degree in Atmospheric and Space Sciences for information on that program. All Climate & Space Doctoral students are admitted to the program through the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.

You are encouraged to explore the Rackham web site and familiarize yourself with the resources, tools and other information in the section for doctoral students. The Climate & Space Student Handbook, which will give you additional information about the Department, is available on the Climate & Space Graduate Students Resources page along with other helpful information and links. To assist you in applying, a Graduate Application Checklist (PDF file) is available.

All applicants are required to submit transcripts to Rackham. It is your responsibility to request the release of any records from the institutions. Official documents must be provided from the institution awarding the degree. Please mail one set of transcripts to:

Rackham Graduate School
Attn: Transcripts/U-M ID# (if known) or Date of Birth (mm/dd/yyyy)
915 E Washington Street
Ann Arbor MI 48109-1070
Telephone: (734) 764-8129

NOTE: All credentials submitted for admission consideration become the property of the University of Michigan and will not be returned in original or copy form.

Admission Requirements

Climate & Space requires a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. Most applicants from undergraduate engineering, science or mathematics programs will have taken the necessary prerequisite courses (see below). Applicants from non-related undergraduate programs (for example, Art History) will be required to take these courses before applying to the graduate programs. Additional undergraduate prerequisite courses are:

Four terms of calculus, including one term of differential equations
Two terms of physics with lab
One term of chemistry with lab
At least one course in computer programming, preferably FORTRAN or C

The College of Engineering requires all applicants to its graduate programs to take the GRE test. The College does not impose a minimum GRE score requirement for graduate admission.

Climate & Space does not require a GRE subject test, only the general test. However, if you are very strong in a particular subject (for example, physics) then it will count in your favor if you take the subject test and score well on it.

GRE Test Codes:
0806 Planetary Science
0501 Atmospheric Science
1839 School Number

All international students need to provide  TOEFL, MELAB, or IELTS scores. However, if you graduated from an undergraduate program where the language of instruction is exclusively English, then the TOEFL requirement is waived. Required TOEFL score is: 230 or better (computer test) OR 84 or better (Internet-based test).

TOEFL Codes:
75 Oceanography
99 Other
1839 School Number

Photocopies of your GRE and TOEFL scores cannot be considered. Official score documents must be sent.

Financial Aid

Graduate student research assistantships (GSRA's), graduate student instructorships (GSI's) and several fellowships are available. All forms of financial aid offer a monthly stipend, tuition and insurance for the academic year, which consists of fall and winter terms (eight months). Employment on research projects is generally available for students remaining on campus during the summer months.

You may also apply for need-based funding which is usually a student loan, through the University's Office of Financial Aid, (734) 763-6600. There are application materials required to complete this process.