MS and PhD
AOES has two closely-related graduate degrees, the Climate Dynamics PhD (established 2005) and the Climate Science MS (established 2020). Because their subjects are very similar, the two degrees have a large overlap in course requirements. The Earth Systems Science MS, offered jointly by AOES and GGS, is also related and has some overlap in requirements. A full-time student can complete the MS in 2 years. PhD durations are more variable, but a full-time student typically finishes in five years.
The Climate Science MS gives the knowledge and skills to understand on a professional level the components of the climate system and how they interact, and the ability to analyze and draw inferences from climate data and/or to conduct experiments and simulations with modern climate models. The Climate Dynamics PhD includes these skills and knowledge, as well as the ability to identify unanswered scientific questions in the field, formulate a research program to answer the questions, and conduct the research program.
Students with the MS degree will typically pursue careers analyzing climate data, running climate models, and working with other experts to apply climate information to any of the numerous fields impacted by climate. PhD students often obtain an academic or research position as a faculty member or scientific principal investigator.
MS to PhD
Some MS students may wish to continue to the PhD. Admission of MS students into the Climate Dynamics doctoral program is not automatic, but MS students who wish to continue should consult with their advisor and the Graduate Coordinator.
PhD to MS
Some doctoral students find that an MS is sufficient for their career objectives. A Climate Dynamics doctoral student who is not enrolled in the Climate Science MS, and who does not complete the PhD, has the option of enrolling in the MS. If a doctoral student’s courses are not chosen with an MS in mind, it may take more than two years – one extra semester or more – to finish the MS under those circumstances.
Simultaneous MS + PhD
A student can be in both the MS and PhD programs at the same time. AOES administrators recommend that all PhD students enter the MS program in their first year. Obtaining an MS will not hinder a student in completing the PhD. Simultaneous enrollment in the MS program facilitates obtaining a graduate degree for students who do not complete the PhD. Obtaining an MS will not hinder a student from completing a PhD.
MS/PhD Transfer Procedures
Enter PhD Program from MS
Apply through normal admissions procedure
- No GRE/TOEFL required with MS
- Transcripts are already on file in Admissions Office
Switch from PhD to MS
- When: by online graduate application deadline
- If deadline missed, submit a late graduation application form
- Department Chair
- Climate Dynamics Director
- Dean of College of Science
Add an MS Degree to a PhD Degree
- When: at least 1 semester before completing MS requirements
- Director/Grad Coordiantor MS & PhD programs
- Dean of College of Science
- Other: attach Mason Transcript
The student must complete at least 42 credits unique to PhD