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

Doctoral Program : Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering

This program gives students the basic courses to allow them to specialize later in a broad range of sub-disciplines. Students are expected to learn the basic morphology of the atmosphere and the space environment, as well as the necessary physics, chemistry, and mathematics.

Inquiries about graduate admission should be directed to the Chair of Graduate Admission Committee, Professor Shasha Zou

Program Advisor

Professor Jeremy Bassis

Quick Links

One-page summary of Qualify Exam Procedures

Full description of Qualify Exam Procedures


Students report to the Graduate Committee during the first two years of the program and should consult with research advisors concerning elective second-year courses before registering with the graduate chair.

  • Climate & Space doctoral students are expected to have a high level of ability and scholarship in atmospheric science, oceanography, space and planetary sciences, or geoscience and remote sensing.
  • Students are expected to carry a course load of 9 — 12 credit hours (3-4 courses excluding seminar courses) each semester until the dissertation work is begun.
  • During their first two years, students are expected to complete a total of two terms in seminar course 747 and a total of two terms in seminar course 749.
  • During their first two years, students must satisfy the cognate requirement by taking a minimum of 4 credits of graduate courses in one or more other departments. These must not be seminar courses and must not be courses that are cross-listed with Climate & Space.
  • There are no foreign language requirements.
  • Students are not expected to take courses during the summer term, as these months are primarily used to gain research experience.
  • Each student must take a 2-step qualifying examination in order to be advanced to Ph.D. candidacy. Typically, the two exams are taken within the first two years. Except case-by-case exception and approval, Rackham graduate school requires students to achieve Ph.D. candidacy no later than the end of third year. A PDF file describing the procedure and exam is available here: Qualifying Exam Description.  A PDF file of the full Qualifying exam Policy and Procedures is available here:  New Qualifying Exam Procedures.pdf.
  • Most students begin research soon after beginning their program. No later than upon achieving candidacy, they focus on dissertation research under the guidance of an advisor.
  • The minimum GPA required to advance to candidacy is 3.3 (B+) on Rackham's 4.3 point scale, where 4.3 is an A+. 
  • All doctoral students are required to complete the Departmental Core Courses specified below before taking the qualifying exam for candidacy to the Ph.D.
  • Beyond the Departmental Core Courses, students are required to take five additional courses in Climate & Space for credit. The general principle is that each student should select a set of courses most relevant to their research interests. Students with special research interests are encouraged to work with their research advisors and Ph.D. program advisor to develop a course plan tailored for their own research interests. Below are lists of typical sets of courses recommended for typical research directions in the department.

Departmental Core Courses

551 Advanced Fluid Dynamics (4 credits)
532 Radiative Transfer (4 credits)
747, 749 Seminar (1 credit, 4 terms)

Recommended Courses for the Atmospheric Area

479 Atmospheric Chemistry (4)
411 Cloud & Precipitation Processes (3)

Recommendeed Courses for the Space and Planetary Area

574 Introduction to Space Physics (4)
565 Planetary Atmospheres (4)

Please Note:  Courses are subject to change. Please consult with your advisor.

Additional Departmental Requirements

Students should discuss any questions regarding course selection with their research advisor and with the Graduate Program Chair. Refer to the complete list of department graduate courses for additional information.


Upon passing the Qualifying Examinations, and having completed the cognate hours and required Rackham fee hours (see the Rackham Graduate Student Handbook), the guidance of the student becomes the responsibility of the research advisor. Although the Graduate Committee will still be available to the candidate, academic selections and thesis guidance will be the responsibility of the research advisor. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all Rackham requirements have been fulfilled for the doctorate. Information is contained in the Rackham Graduate Student Handbook and the Thesis Guidelines.