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Nope. Not the exact same thing as meteorology, which is just one of the areas you’ll learn about if you choose to major in Atmospheric Science. Atmospheric Science, according to the University of Washington, includes “weather forecasting, air pollution and air chemistry, climate change, radiative transfer, and boundary layer processes.” Not as simple as flinging magnetic disks shaped like suns onto a metal weatherboard.

Interested in the environment? You might want to concentrate on the study of air quality, health issues, energy, and pollution. Or you might choose to study Atmospheric Science as it relates to the ocean. Then there’s climatology, which is the study of how the atmosphere in one area of the world has changed and will change over long periods of time. Still another specialization is aeronomy, which defines as the study of “the photochemical processes of the upper atmosphere.” And, of course, you have the option of studying meteorology, where you’ll learn how to analyze and predict the weather.

You’ll be required to use advanced math and computer skills in your investigation of the atmosphere, which in this day and age will come in handy when searching for a job, even if it’s not for a weatherman’s position.


  • Air Quality Modeling

  • Atmospheric Kinematics and Dynamics

  • Atmospheric Motions

  • Atmospheric Physics

  • Climates of the World

  • Global Environmental Chemistry

  • Long Range Forecasting

  • Meteorology of the Biosphere

  • Ocean Circulation

  • Physical Climatology

  • Remote Sensing for Meteorology and Natural Resources

  • Thermodynamics and Cloud Processes

  • Weather Briefing


A wide range of math and science courses will be your best preparation for this major. Physics, chemistry, biology, and advanced math classes—as well as computer courses—will give you a strong foundation for what you’ll be studying in college. Any courses your high school offers on environmental topics would be useful.