What is a Meteorology Degree?

Meteorology degree programs teach students how to predict weather conditions. The typical curriculum examines atmospheric movement, climate trends, and ozone levels. With an understanding of these concepts, aspiring meteorologists learn about various meteorological phenomena. They learn how to use statistical analysis to forecast weather events from sun, clouds, and rain to heat waves, droughts, thunderstorms, tropical storms, tornados, and hurricanes.

These are some of the classes that make up a meteorology degree program:

  • Calculus
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Synoptic Meteorology
  • Numerical Weather Prediction / Differential Equations
  • Climatology
  • Analysis of Weather Charts
  • The Instruments of Meteorology

Program Options


Many meteorology degree programs are designed to train students in specific kinds of meteorology work. For example, some schools may offer a specialized meteorology track for individuals interested in working with the military, private weather forecasting services, or the National Weather Service or other government agencies. This track is sometimes referred to as the professional track.

It is also common to find broadcast meteorology programs, which are focused on preparing students for careers in television and radio. Many schools also have a particular curriculum for individuals planning to continue their studies beyond the undergraduate level.

Bachelor’s Degree in Meteorology – Four Year Duration
Most jobs in meteorology require at least a bachelor’s degree in the field. The Meteorology Bachelor’s Degree program is made up of lectures, labs, and hands-on experience. Students are typically required to complete a research project that involves using weather models, analyzing data, and conducting field work.

The curriculum at this level includes courses like these:

  • Introduction to Meteorology
  • Dynamic Meteorology – the study of the motions of the atmosphere based on the Earth’s rapid rotation
  • Physical Meteorology – the study of the optical, electrical, acoustical, and thermodynamic phenomena in the atmosphere; the physics of clouds and precipitation
  • Synoptic Meteorology
  • Calculus-based Physics
  • Applied Differential Equations
  • Applied Probability and Statistics
  • Tropical Meteorology

Here are some examples of courses specific to the different meteorology education tracks:

Professional Track

  • Radar Meteorology
  • Satellite Meteorology
  • Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Computer Applications in Meteorology

Broadcast Track

  • Severe Weather
  • Radar Meteorology
  • TV Weather
  • Public Speaking
  • Mass Communications
  • Internship
  • Practicum

Graduate School Track

  • Satellite Meteorology
  • Earth Sciences / Computer Applications
  • Hydrology – the study of the earth’s water and its movement in relation to land
  • Mesoscale Meteorology

Master’s Degree in Meteorology – Two to Four Year Duration
Graduates with a Master’s Meteorology Degree often work in research and/or academic roles. In a master’s program students focus on research in an area of specialization that they choose. Some possibilities are:

  • Air Pollution Meteorology
  • Agrometeorology – the investigation of meteorological conditions that affect agricultural production
  • Aviation Meteorology – the investigation of meteorological conditions that affect air traffic management
  • Climate Change

Classes may include in-depth study of geophysical fluid dynamics, air quality forecasting, and map and data analysis.

Doctoral Degree in Meteorology – Five to Six Year Duration
The goal of most students who earn a Doctorate in Meteorology is to conduct ongoing independent, original meteorological research. Doctoral students must complete and defend a dissertation. Here are some sample areas from which they may choose a topic:

  • Weather Systems and Forecasting
  • Fire Weather and Wildfire Dynamics
  • Wind Energy
  • Mountain Meteorology
  • Climate Change
  • Mars Weather

Degrees Similar to Meteorology

Atmospheric Sciences
Meteorology is the study of weather, especially weather forecasting. Atmospheric science is the wider, all-encompassing study of the atmosphere, including climatology, air quality, and meteorology.

Physics is a field that keeps changing as discoveries are made. This means that the field asks at least as many questions as it answers. Students of physics degree programs study matter and energy. They learn about the relationships between the measurable quantities in the universe, which include velocity, electric field, and kinetic energy. In simple terms, the study of physics is an attempt to figure out why objects move in the way that they do.

Engineering Physics
Students of engineering physics focus on learning how to use physics to solve practical problems. They learn about computational physics, materials science, thermodynamics, and nanotechnology.

Astronomy students use math, physics, and chemistry to study celestial objects like planets, stars, comets, meteors, and galaxies.

Environmental Science
The basis of this discipline is that all natural things interact. Individuals who earn a degree in environmental science develop plans to prevent, control, or find solutions to environmental issues, such as pollution.

Archaeology degree programs are concerned with the study of past human societies through analysis of what they left behind. Geology is about the history of the Earth and the forces that act upon it. Geology coursework covers subjects like geochemistry, geophysics, and mineralogy.

Broadcast Journalism
Students of broadcast journalism learn how to report, produce, and deliver the news for television, radio, and other broadcast media. Their studies typically include communication theory, electronic media production, mass communications law, and media and society.

Skills You’ll Learn

As students of meteorology learn how to analyze and interpret data and radar imagery, they also develop skills that at are transferable to work in any occupational category:

  • Mathematical
  • Problem-solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Scientific writing
  • Communication
  • Teamwork

What Can You Do with a Meteorology Degree?

Government / Research
In the U.S., most meteorology degree jobs are with government departments and agencies:

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory / Hurricane Research Division / Climate Diagnostics Center / National Severe Storms Laboratory / NOAA Postdoctoral Program in Climate and Global Change
  • National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
  • National Weather Service
  • Air Force
  • Navy
  • Department of Defense
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): Goddard Space Flight Center / Langley Research Center / Marshall Space Flight Center / Goddard Institute for Space Studies /
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Agriculture

The private sector hires meteorologists in several businesses that are either dependent on or can be affected by weather:

  • Agriculture
  • Airlines
  • Cruise lines
  • Insurance
  • Shipping companies

Education / Research
Meteorologists employed by universities teach meteorology and conduct research in the field. Some may work for private research firms. In these roles, meteorologists study historical atmospheric data to better understand the effects of weather on ecosystems.

As noted above in the Program Options section, the media sector – specifically, radio and television – hires meteorologists to analyze, interpret, and present weather forecasts to listening and viewing audiences.


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