Everybody knows the old joke about weather people. Every time someone gets their picnic or golf game ruined by a sudden rain shower or an unseasonably hot day, they jest about how nice it would be to get paid to be wrong.
But the fact of the matter is that meteorologists aren’t wrong. It’s just that the study of weather is incredibly complex and often changing.
In fact, meteorology is one of the most difficult and important scientific fields, not just because we all like to check the weather.
In addition to studying how to be on broadcast television, students in meteorology schools deal with the realities of climate change and the effects that humans have on the atmosphere. For that reason, the atmospheric sciences are among the most important scientific disciplines. They deal with events that will continue to affect our daily lives.
Because it is so important, good programs in meteorology and the atmospheric sciences need experienced faculty, resources, and facilities that keep up with the demands of the times.
It can take a lot of research to find those schools, but we’ve already done the hard work for you. Today, we’ve ranked the 10 best meteorology schools based on each program’s position in the overall U.S. News & World Report list of National Universities.
Using this information, you’ll be ready to do the important work of meteorology. Whether you’re on tv predicting a sunny day or in a lab looking at the changes in air quality, these schools will give you the tools you need.
Here are the 10 best meteorology and atmospheric sciences schools in the US.
10. Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)
At Ohio State University, the study of meteorology isn’t just academically challenging. It’s also a lot of fun.
You can see evidence of the students’ passion in the activities of their Meteorology Club. At their recent 25th Annual Severe Weather Symposium, the Club brought together experts across the globe, including the school’s alumni. Members shared their findings and research programs, working together to bring their studies forward.
The club plays a key role in keeping the program on the cutting edge. Throughout the years, the club’s advocation has allowed the department to secure new resources, including data logger equipment and a system of solar-powered instruments. With this material at their disposal, students can more closely examine weather changes.
It’s smart, fun, and innovative, the focus of OSU’s program.
9. University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL)
In the Atmospheric Sciences Department of the University of Miami’s Rosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, students can work on the cutting edge of the field. Taking advantage of its location, a hot spot for interesting weather, the Rosensteil School offers students a chance to participate in exciting research projects.
These projects include an atmospheric chemistry group, which works to understand the role of gases and particles in changing our air quality and climate. Participants in the group visit locations ranging from forests, urban centers, high-latitude oceans, and more to get readings and measurements, which they then use to analyze the effect of atmospheric chemistry on human health and climate.
Scientists in the program also study cloud and aerosol processes, looking at the effects of their interaction with each other and with radiation. Working at south Florida’s Cloud-Aerosol-Rain-Observatory, these scientists gain a greater understanding of the ways that pollutants and smoke alter air quality and climate.
8. University of Georgia (Athens, GA)
Although the atmospheric sciences major is a relatively new addition to the offerings at the University of Georgia, it has already distinguished itself as one of the best in the country. Building off the success of its previous atmospheric sciences undergraduate certificate, this new major better meets the needs of employers in the fields.
Thanks to its new focus on research and an expanded curriculum, the major now meets the standards of the American Meteorological Society.
As that change suggests, the new program is particularly well-suited for those who want a career as a meteorologist. The degree meets Federal requirements for civil service employment as a meteorologist and the necessary sciences coursework to be a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist.
Graduates from the program hold positions not only on broadcast television and in the National Weather Service, but also in emergency management, in the energy and utilities industries, and more.
7. University of Wisconsin, Madison (Madison, WI)
With a faculty consisting of 18 professors with expertise in subjects such as climate sciences, weather systems, and more, the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Department has an unprecedented level of excellence.
In addition to understanding the atmosphere and ocean to predict the weather, students and faculty deal with some of the most pressing issues of our time. Participants in the program study air chemistry and quality, solar and terrestrial radiation, clouds and precipitation, and other phenomena that affect our quality of life.
The school’s success can be partially attributed to the success of its initiatives. The school was recently selected as a partner community for the American Geophysical Union’s Bridge Program. With these resources, the program can further recruit and retain members of underrepresented communities.
6. University of California, Davis (Davis, CA)
As part of the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources in the University of California, Davis’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Science, the Atmospheric Science program features small class sizes and increased interaction with faculty.
Under the close watch of teachers and mentors, students perform observations, use specialized instruments, advanced theories, and create models.
Students in the program work closely with scientists across departments to find new avenues of inquiry, creating thoughtful and creative students.
The work of these students has been recognized by groups such as the American Meteorological Society (AMS). Undergraduate researchers in the program received two of the six fellowships offered by AMS, thanks to their work on the influence of climate change and climate variability on ozone pollution.
Additionally, students have access to programs such as the Extreme Weather group at Davis. Members of the group study extreme weather events, such as including tropical and extratropical cyclones, atmospheric blocks, and more. They look for the potential for socioeconomic damage created by these events.
5. University of California, San Diego (San Diego, CA)
Like all of the programs on this list, the oceanic and atmospheric sciences major at the University of California at San Diego offers everything one would need to become a professional in the field. Students examine the fundamentals of the ocean and the atmosphere, including the chemistry and physics that govern it.
Students use specialized tools, including experts at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. With small classes, students work closely with faculty and graduate students to advance research subjects.
But the real reason that UCSD stands out is its unique internship opportunities. Past examples include a position within the Open Space Division of the City of San Diego’s Park and Recreation Department. Students can also work as campus organizers, helping the university switch to clean energy and increasing student engagement.
As these programs attest, UCSD puts a priority on students guiding the program and their education.
4. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI)
“Science-driven engineering at its best!”
That’s how the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor advertises its Climate and Space Sciences Engineering department. That’s a bold claim, but one that it backs up with its excellent meteorology program.
Since 1954, the program has put research first, training students in the fundamentals of science while innovating to match recent findings. Today, the school continues that vaunted history.
Major projects including theoretical and modeling efforts, which develop methods to track ocean waves and currents, the impact of naturally occurring and man-made aerosols on climate, and more.
Working together, the faculty and student body examine air quality and the chemistry of the lower atmosphere. Together, they design new instruments and chemical chains to sense changes in climate.
It’s challenging work, but that’s what the school promises: science-driven engineering at its best.
3. University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, CA)
At the University of California at Berkeley, students and faculty base their work in the Berkeley Atmospheric Sciences Center (BASC). As the hub for all of UC Berkeley’s research and training in the science of atmosphere, the BASC features state-of-the-art technology and support for the department.
The BASC is just one of the major benefits of the school’s program. Students studying meteorology gain fundamental knowledge in the science of atmosphere, climate, and circulation dynamics. The course focuses on topics such as changes in the stratospheric ozone, the effects of smog, the physics of climate variability, and more.
But all of this work lays down the foundation for a capstone project, in which students embark on their own research. Working closely with their departmental advisor and their supervisor, students have the opportunity to use UC Berkley’s vast resources, including the BASC, to advance their own interests and knowledge.
2. University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
As you’ve seen, many schools from the University of California make this list. The system has a unique commitment to meteorology, and UC Los Angeles is perhaps at the top.
UCLA earns this designation with its understanding of the issue’s urgency. The school knows that climate change is a pressing concern, and it is in a unique position to train the next generation to deal with it.
To that end, the program takes into account the many changes in the climate and our natural habitats. Recognizing the role that human activity has on the atmosphere, the school’s faculty and students take a dynamic approach to the subject, working to stay up to date on the latest developments.
Those in the program work under some of the leaders in the field, including professor Rong Fu. Recently given the American Meteorological Society’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Biometeorology, Professor Fu has spent years studying tropical biosphere feedback mechanisms and mentoring the next generation of professionals.
1. Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)
As the only Ivy League University on this list, and the only Ivy League school with an atmospheric sciences program, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University tops this list, and that’s no surprise.
The school offers everything you’d expect from an institution of its caliber, including access to resources such as the Northeast Regional Climate Center. Funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the center works with the National Climatic Data Center, the National Weather Service, and other organizations to gather and monitor atmospheric changes in the northeast.
Like every other program at Cornell, majors in the College feature small class sizes, offering unique opportunities to work closely with faculty. Students form close relationships with their teachers, giving them access to knowledge and research projects. But don’t let this excellent quality fool you. The atmospheric sciences program at Cornell partners with the State University of New York system.
For that reason, tuition for the program is much lower than an Ivy League school, much more in line with those in SUNY.