What Does It Take to Get into Graduate School? A Survey of Atmospheric Science Programs
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The AMS's Board on Higher Education undertook a survey of atmospheric science graduate programs in the United States and Canada during the fall and winter of 2007–08. The survey involved admission data for the three previous years and was performed with assistance from AMS headquarters and in cooperation with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). Usable responses were received from 29 programs, including most major atmospheric science programs. The responding schools receive between 6 and 140 applications per year, and typical incoming class sizes range from 1 to 24. About 69% of applicants and 76% of enrollees are domestic students. At the majority of schools, all incoming students receive full financial support. The average graduate program looks for undergraduate grade point averages of at least 3.3 to 3.5, higher for nonscience majors. Grade point averages in math and science courses, typically 3.5 or better, are particularly important. The typical midclass GRE of entering graduate students was a combined verbal and quantitative score of 1,300. Larger schools tend to place particular emphasis on math/ science grades and letters of recommendation, while smaller schools typically value a broader range of application characteristics. Students considering graduate school should make a special effort to cultivate potential letter writers, working on research projects if possible. They should also become informed about the particular requirements and values of the programs to which they are applying by visiting them if possible or by contacting professors with active research programs in the student's area of interest.