College Meteorology Programs

Dustin Ward

Hi, everyone. I'm a high school student who is starting to look toward college and I love admiring and learning about the weather. I am interested in learning about Atmospheric Sciences or Meteorology as a major and could not find an abundance of info googling. Then I thought of this website which I had been coming to for a while just reading and thought that y'all would be knowledgeable on the subject. Can you tell me about your experience in college if you got a degree in Meteorology and which colleges have the best Meteorology or Atmospheric Science programs? thanks alot for your time.
 
I too will be looking soon for a college. Unfortunately, I'm embedded in Michigan. I've read that whole thread and saw no mention of U of Michigan. I know they created the Weather Underground which is widely successful, but does anyone know of the METR program there?
 
It's faded quite a bit over the past few years, they lost some important members of the staff. VERY much leaning towards research-only. Central Michigan is recommended, and/or Valpo if you can go a little south of the border.
 
I would also do some research on the American Meteorological Society's website. Google that and surf away. They usually have loads of information on colleges that have the Atmos. degrees. offered.
 
Well since I was the topic of the linked thread, I will mention that I chose OU and I absolutely love it here. The campus is really neat and it's been a good experience so far. In fact Andrew, I've met quite a few freshmen who are planning on majoring in meteorology who came from Michigan.

Every campus you go to will have its advantages and disadvantages. Down here I know that the campus actually feels like a campus as opposed to some of the sprawling urban ones that seem like you're in the city. It's also a really beautiful campus...I know you wouldn't think it would be down here but there really is a lot of green space and good looking red-brick buildings (with the exception of the Physical Sciences Center which looks like a nuclear fallout shelter but that's another story :D) If you're looking for a huge school this one isn't large but it isn't exactly small either (another reason I preferred it). The meteorology department though is very large, I think when you total up undergrads and grads, we have one of the largest programs if not the largest program in the nation. This means you'd probably have a lot of competition. And the courses, from what I hear, are pretty rigorous. I'm not sure, you'll probably need an alum's opinion on that. There are a lot of organizations around the area that could open up avenues to get you going in a career but remember there will be a lot of competition. We do have an excellent new facility (NWC - really really nice), and a wonderful faculty from what I hear, so you'll get a great education on the science. They also told me that about half of the freshmen in the METR 1111 course wind up changing their major by sometime in the sophomore year, so it is difficult. But I am of the opinion that if you're motivated enough you can succeed and I'm pretty darn motivated when it comes to meteorology so hopefully I'm right!! :p

What really appealed to me about OU was the focus on the mesoscale which is what I'm primarily interested in. I also liked the reputation of the meteorology program, the large community of meteorologists in Norman, getting away from home and absorbing a different part of the country, and the general feel of the campus. The new NWC and being in the middle of tornado alley certainly are nice, but they weren't major factors in my decision. I mean, I love the new building but I wouldn't base my university choice on a new building or the ability to get to prime chasing territory :D

As far as other programs that have crossed my mind enough to let me remember them now: Florida State, Miami, U-Wis Madison, U-Wis Milwaukee, Penn State, Utah, U-Mich, Nebraska, Iowa State, Rutgers, St. Louis U, Colorado St.

I didn't investigate them all but I know I've heard about some sort of met/atmos sciences undergrad program at them. I wound up narrowing it down to UW Madison and OU. I knew I would always be considering UW because it was in state, nice and close, and it had atmospheric sciences, but I wound up coming to OU. I guess the key is to just investigate all the colleges, know what you're looking for and then you'll probably be able to narrow it down to 2-3 universities. At least that's what my process was...

AJL
 
Well since I was the topic of the linked thread, I will mention that I chose OU and I absolutely love it here. The campus is really neat and it's been a good experience so far. In fact Andrew, I've met quite a few freshmen who are planning on majoring in meteorology who came from Michigan.

Every campus you go to will have its advantages and disadvantages. Down here I know that the campus actually feels like a campus as opposed to some of the sprawling urban ones that seem like you're in the city. It's also a really beautiful campus...I know you wouldn't think it would be down here but there really is a lot of green space and good looking red-brick buildings (with the exception of the Physical Sciences Center which looks like a nuclear fallout shelter but that's another story :D) If you're looking for a huge school this one isn't large but it isn't exactly small either (another reason I preferred it). The meteorology department though is very large, I think when you total up undergrads and grads, we have one of the largest programs if not the largest program in the nation. This means you'd probably have a lot of competition. And the courses, from what I hear, are pretty rigorous. I'm not sure, you'll probably need an alum's opinion on that. There are a lot of organizations around the area that could open up avenues to get you going in a career but remember there will be a lot of competition. We do have an excellent new facility (NWC - really really nice), and a wonderful faculty from what I hear, so you'll get a great education on the science. They also told me that about half of the freshmen in the METR 1111 course wind up changing their major by sometime in the sophomore year, so it is difficult. But I am of the opinion that if you're motivated enough you can succeed and I'm pretty darn motivated when it comes to meteorology so hopefully I'm right!! :p

What really appealed to me about OU was the focus on the mesoscale which is what I'm primarily interested in. I also liked the reputation of the meteorology program, the large community of meteorologists in Norman, getting away from home and absorbing a different part of the country, and the general feel of the campus. The new NWC and being in the middle of tornado alley certainly are nice, but they weren't major factors in my decision. I mean, I love the new building but I wouldn't base my university choice on a new building or the ability to get to prime chasing territory :D

As far as other programs that have crossed my mind enough to let me remember them now: Florida State, Miami, U-Wis Madison, U-Wis Milwaukee, Penn State, Utah, U-Mich, Nebraska, Iowa State, Rutgers, St. Louis U, Colorado St.

I didn't investigate them all but I know I've heard about some sort of met/atmos sciences undergrad program at them. I wound up narrowing it down to UW Madison and OU. I knew I would always be considering UW because it was in state, nice and close, and it had atmospheric sciences, but I wound up coming to OU. I guess the key is to just investigate all the colleges, know what you're looking for and then you'll probably be able to narrow it down to 2-3 universities. At least that's what my process was...

AJL
I'm an out-of-state sophomore in OU SoM and I second most of this. I grew up near Washington DC so Penn State was easily the closest respected program at a public university, but I ended up here because of tuition, large difference in scholarship offers, and location (I know that may sound odd for a northeasterner to prefer OK, but the campus is very nice and I didn't like the prospects of being in an isolated college town hours from a metro area at PSU... and without a car freshman year at that).

So far I've yet to have a moment that I've regretted my decision to come here. As some people hinted at in the earlier thread, it's not the most academically renowned school in the world on the whole, but the meteorology program is excellent and that's where you're going to be spending most of your time junior and senior year. Also, I think it's important to realize that a lot of overgeneralizations are made about the "quality" of different schools... there are going to be a range of professors from top-notch to awful at pretty much any school you attend. Half the battle is just finding the good ones or being lucky enough to enroll in their section of a course, and I really don't think the sum difference of your entire undergrad experience is going to be that significant, especially when we're not talking about Harvard vs. Podunk Community College, but OU vs. PSU vs. Madison, etc. Then again, I've yet to graduate so I won't claim to be the final word on this.

As Alex mentioned, the climate and the NWC are two major "bonus" attractions on top of this being one of the most well-known and respected programs in the country. I would say you can't do any better than OKC/Norman for a base location for chasing, but after the past few years... :p. The NWC is truly stunning, and I practically start salivating thinking about the prospects for internships and such with all the organizations housed in the building. The freshman class does start out very large; I think our METR 1111 had about 130 students last year, but a whole lot of them drop out as soon as that course is over (why that is remains a mystery to me, because it's not only easy, it's also pretty obvious that your grades on the dumb little reading quizzes don't reflect your ability to do well in the meteorology program). But regardless, we only have about 60 students in the Intro to Met 1 course this semester, and Dr. Carr told us last year that the average graduating class is 35-40. So yes, the program is larger than a lot of others, but it's not like you're lost in a sea of faces none of the professors can remember either.

Overall, all those things combined with the beautiful campus and relatively low tuition should make this a very attractive choice for anyone with an interest in mesoscale meteorology and severe weather. The only negative points I've encountered here, things like life in the dorms freshman year, lack of many meteorology courses the first two years, and a few professors I haven't cared for, aren't really specific to OU. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
 
I graduated from the University of Utah meteorology program...and no, I am not a mormon.

If you like the mountains, skiing, hiking, desert, lots of sun, and snowy winters you may like Salt Lake City. Their meteorology program is also very good. They obviously don't concentrate on severe weather, but they have an excellent program in forecasting and mountain meteorology.

I could go on and on, but I don't have the time. If you have any questions about Utah or The U of U please let me know.

Edit: I forgot to mention that in-state tuition is very cheap and even out of state is very reasonable. There are also many opportunities for scholarships. I received several without ever applying.
 
I am fortunate that I live 40 miles from what I think is the best community college that provides MET classes. Granted, community colleges are not for those looking to move away from home and jump into higher learning with both feet however.
The only info I can provide is to those looking more locally in the IL, IN area. College of DuPage is an excellent start for those interested in the MET field.
Good luck in whatever you decide! Stay motivated and study hard. The time will fly by.
Laura
 
I would like to offer an additional point of view:

At this point, what is it you would like to with your career?

If you have a strong preference and think you know your "ideal job" that should influence your choice of colleges and programs.

If you would like to have an employer's perspective, please email at [email protected] and let me know what you think you would like to do. I'll send you some ideas about meteorology programs that will help make you successful after you graduate.

Mike Smith
 
Well i'm a freshman at University of Nebraska right now... so I havent had a meteorology course yet, but I will next semester, I was thinking about OU alot more but I chose to be a bit closer to home and went to NU for tuition purposes. The meterology classes her arent very big as I have gone to a couple of lectures with a friend and also to the AMS meetings for which they have a chapter here. A few of the pluses here are that the campus is pretty attractive, and we have alot of interesting things to do outside of class (but im sure it is this way with most schools) and they have numerous academic programs. Some of the dorms and dining halls are newly renovated.... it is an okay chase location too

The only glaring negative I could find in my choice was that I may not get quite as much of a hands on education as I would in Norman, and internship possibilities are fairly limited.
 
Schools in the Midwest with meteorology programs
-College of Du Page (2yr only)
-Northern Illinois University
-University of Illinois
-Western Illinois University

-Ball State University
-Indiana University
-Purdue University
-Valparaiso University

-Iowa State University

-University of Kansas

-Central Michigan University
-University of Michigan

-St. Cloud State University

-Saint Louis University
-University of Missouri

-Creighton University
-University of Nebraska

-University of North Dakota

-Ohio State Unuiversity
-Ohio University

-South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

-Northland College
-University of Wisconsin
-University of Wisconsin-Milwaukeee

Colleges with meteorology programs:
http://www.nwas.org/links/universities.html

Mike
 
Well i'm a freshman at University of Nebraska right now...A few of the pluses here are that the campus is pretty attractive

OK, question for all my Big-12 brethren: are all Big 12 campuses really beautiful and nice? Because I know I was surprised with how good OU looked, you said Nebraska looked pretty good, and I've been to OSU in Stillwater and for being way out there I was surprised with how good that looked too. I still think OU has the nicest campus that I've been on yet, but then again I haven't been on too many :D

And I already mentioned that UW-Madison has a real good program, but let me also mention that if you're looking for something in that area and a good smaller program, I think UW-Milwaukee is decent program, albeit smaller than the likes of Madison and OU.

And Mike is right...it really depends what you want to do. I was leaning towards operational role or maybe mesoscale/microscale research both of which I thought OU would prepare me well for. But also remember that the school you choose will not dictate your career path either.

AJL
 
I can't speak completely for Mike, but I'd say choice of school will end up being secondary to an employer when it comes down to what you DID during college.

Get involved, be active, and pursue internships and other learning oppurtunities. In addition, make sure to ramp up your computing skills. Programming skills are a must, and you could also learn tools such as GIS, scripting, how to deal with linux/unix systems, etc. The meteorology field is a very competititive market and if you want to get a decent job, you need a good resume. I've had a few friends get job offers that were similar to what I was making in grad school. Yikes!

Being a graduate from OU for 2 degrees, I'm of course partial to this institution. Although the classes were larger, I made sure profs knew who I was. I also took advantage of a bunch of oppurtunities down there. I worked with a private sector company starting my so. year, and participiated in a couple of field projects. I can promise you that OU will offer you the most out of class oppurtunities of any institution in this country. It's unavoidable considering the wide variety of organizations around.

Right now I'm at the U. of North Dakota. If you are looking at smaller institutions, I'd consider here or perhaps Valpo. While UND doesn't focus on mesoscale, you're still on the plains. Everyone is friendly up here, and the department seems to be pretty close-knit. They are in the process of hiring a few new faculty positions, so they are growing. We have a dual-pol radar up here, and also a focus on sfc. transportation/aviation meteorology(instrumentation). If I were in your shoes, I'd go with OU, however ; ).

Aaron
 
Alex, I think just about any college in the midwest looks pretty good. Although as you mention a lot of the big 12 schools are great as far as views go, Iowa State definitely is one of the most beautiful college around especially beings it is all located together, you don't have other buildings around campus that take away from sort of a rural view and the great style of buildings we have. So yes, qutie a few of the big 12 schools look wonderful when you are walking around campuses.

As for the actual purpose of this topic, I really think that you need to look at the options you would want to enjoy. Sit down and look at a list of all of the colleges that offer met programs, go to their websites, etc. and get information on them. Then slowly cross schools of your list and get down to some of your top options. The best way to choose a school then, go visit them! I took the summer after my junior year going to several colleges around the plains to see which one I enjoyed most. I ended up choosing Iowa State and I definitely don't regret that decision for the same reasons nobody else disagrees with the choice they made. You have to choose a place that you will enjoy, for me although I knew Oklahoma was a great college for Meteorology, I didn't want to go there. Maybe it was distance, maybe it was just that I like having a little smaller classes, just not sure, but it just didn't feel like the college for me. In the end be sure to just choose the college that you feel the best at, as is the end, every college degree no matter where you got it at will be able to get you a job.
 
I have been to all of the Big 12 campuses that have meteorology programs. As an OU graduate I have to say that the University of Kansas has the prettiest campus.

That said, I think the beauty of the campus should rank no higher than about 25th in your criteria for finding the right school.
 
That is a very good point, campus looks are just an add-on to your experience of the college you choose. One thing that I thought of to look for when searching through your colleges of choice, look at student involvement. Do they have student programs, clubs, etc. or is it just an individual thing where every student is pretty much on their own in the program. Such things would be an AMS chapter other local weather communities, etc... I know at Iowa State we have a Student AMS chapter that is very good, being labeled as Chapter of the Year this past school year! We also have a local NWA (National Weather Association) chapter that puts on a conference every year and that is a big plus in the way of getting involved, that was also named chapter of the year!

So that is just something else I thought of when looking at a college of your choice.
 
I think NU is probably a good choice if your interested in climate research as they have a lot going on in that area esspecially with drought and its affects.
 
I went to Central Michigan University, when I went there
the synoptics courses was focus on operational meteorology.
Labs we did a lot of hand analysis, along with using the different
software available on the computers. The nice thing about the
courses they taught you how to analyze weather data and forecasting.

Too many schools in my opinion focus too much on theory, not
enough on developing skills to forecast weather.

Mike
 
Too many schools in my opinion focus too much on theory, not
enough on developing skills to forecast weather.


Amen! This is why it is important for the student to factor in the career goals when making a choice of schools. If you want to do research it should weigh differently than if you are certain you want to do forecasting, etc.
 
I am a senior in high school this year and have been looking at a lot of different universities, especially this summer. The four schools that I am considering right now are OU, Miami, Nebraska, and Iowa State. OU by far has the largest program and the best facilities in my opinion. Iowa State seems to have a very good undergraduate program and a tornado simulator which sounded pretty cool. While visiting Miami and Nebraska I was not able to get much information about their Met. programs. When I visited NCAR and talked to several people there, Penn State and OU were mentioned the most. Also, I know Colorado State does not have an undergraduate major and according to Michigan's brochure thing they don't have a major available either. As of right now OU is my top choice! Hope this was helpful. Good luck!
 
Back
Top