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.

Program Advisor

Associate Professor Xianglei Huang


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 Climate & Space 747 and a total of two terms in seminar course Climate & Space 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.
  • Typically after four semesters of classes, each student will take and must pass a qualifying examination before being advanced to candidacy. A PDF file describing the procedure and exam is available here: Climate & Space Qualifying Exam Description.
  • 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 (5) 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. In practice, most students complete either the courses specified below as Core Courses for the Atmospheric area or the Space and Planetary area. This can prove useful as preparation for the candidacy exam.

Departmental Core Courses

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

Atmospheric Core Courses

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

Space Core Courses

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 Climate & Space 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.