Master of Science in Atmospheric Science (MSc)

Overview

We engage in fundamental research in atmospheric science, both independently and in cooperation with federal and provincial laboratories and other research groups around the world. The emphasis of the research is on studies of processes and developing physical understanding of the atmosphere. The research commonly involves field or laboratory measurement and observation; data analysis and interpretation; and numerical model construction, modification and validation.

What makes the program unique?

Atmospheric scientists use principles of classical physics to study, explain, and predict atmospheric behavior on scales ranging from turbulent eddies through storm clouds to earth’s global circulation.  We are motivated by weather-related big societal issues including climate change, air quality, and renewable energy. Important tools include big data (statistics, machine learning, scientific programming), geographic information systems and remote sensing.  Our methods include lab experiments, field experiments, numerical weather prediction, and climate simulation.  We support our grad students with government grants for pure research, with industry contracts for tailored meteorological applications, and with teaching assistantships. The UBC atmospheric science (ATSC) program is interdisciplinary, with professors in the departments of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science; Geography; Chemistry; Mathematics; Soil Science; and Mechanical Engineering.  Internationally recognized textbooks written by ATSC professors over the past four decades’ span topics from the atmospheric boundary layer and urban climates to practical meteorology.

 

Program Enquiries

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Contact the program

Admission Information & Requirements

1) Check Eligibility

Minimum Academic Requirements

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies establishes the minimum admission requirements common to all applicants, usually a minimum overall average in the B+ range (76% at UBC). The graduate program that you are applying to may have additional requirements. Please review the specific requirements for applicants with credentials from institutions in:

Each program may set higher academic minimum requirements. Please review the program website carefully to understand the program requirements. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission as it is a competitive process.

English Language Test

Applicants from a university outside Canada in which English is not the primary language of instruction must provide results of an English language proficiency examination as part of their application. Tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of your application.

Minimum requirements for the two most common English language proficiency tests to apply to this program are listed below:

TOEFL: Test of English as a Foreign Language - internet-based

Overall score requirement: 100

Reading

22

Writing

22

Speaking

23

Listening

22

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

Overall score requirement: 7.0

Reading

6.5

Writing

6.5

Speaking

7.0

Listening

6.5

Other Test Scores

Some programs require additional test scores such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Test (GMAT). The requirements for this program are:

The GRE is optional.

Prior degree, course and other requirements

Prior Degree Requirements

We encourage grad applicants from a wide variety of scientific, math, statistics, and engineering backgrounds. Applicants to not need a Bachelors degree in meteorology or atmospheric science. For example, current grad students have university degrees in physics, mathematics, physical geography, engineering, chemistry, computer science, and many other fields.

Course Requirements

Strong physics, math, and computational background is desired.

2) Meet Deadlines

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
01 October 2020
Canadian Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 January 2021
Transcript Deadline: 15 January 2021
Referee Deadline: 15 January 2021
International Applicants
Application Deadline: 15 January 2021
Transcript Deadline: 15 January 2021
Referee Deadline: 15 January 2021

3) Prepare Application

Transcripts

All applicants have to submit transcripts from all past post-secondary study. Document submission requirements depend on whether your institution of study is within Canada or outside of Canada.

Letters of Reference

A minimum of three references are required for application to graduate programs at UBC. References should be requested from individuals who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications.

Statement of Interest

Many programs require a statement of interest, sometimes called a "statement of intent", "description of research interests" or something similar.

Supervision

Students in research-based programs usually require a faculty member to function as their supervisor. Please follow the instructions provided by each program whether applicants should contact faculty members.

Instructions regarding supervisor contact for Master of Science in Atmospheric Science (MSc)
Applicants should browse faculty profiles and indicate in their application who they are interested in working with. No commitment from a supervisor prior to applying is necessary, but contacting faculty members is encouraged.

Applicants for the co-op Masters should first get a commitment of employment (including salary) from the relevant industry or agency for two or more work terms, and should also apply to the UBC Science Co-op office. Grad students hoping to work with one of the ATSC professors in an Engineering department should contact the UBC Engineering Co-op office. The Co-op office will work with the appropriate department to make recommendations for admission.

Citizenship Verification

Permanent Residents of Canada must provide a clear photocopy of both sides of the Permanent Resident card.

4) Apply Online

All applicants must complete an online application form and pay the application fee to be considered for admission to UBC.

Research Information

Research Focus

Research areas include weather-related natural disasters (forest fires and smoke, avalanches, floods), air pollution and atmospheric chemistry, micrometeorology (turbulent transport of heat, moisture, momentum and how they relate to forests and crops), cloud and aerosol physics, atmospheric radiation and remote sensing, fluid dynamics, climate dynamics and climate change, glaciology, atmosphere-ocean interactions, urban meteorology, transportation meteorology (roads, shipping, railroads), numerical weather prediction, artificial neural networks, big data, and much more.

Research Facilities

In 2012 a new Earth Sciences Building was completed. The $75 million facility was designed to inspire collaboration and creativity across disciplines. We have extensive lab facilities in the Chemistry, Soil Science, and Geography buildings, and have access to wind tunnels in Engineering. We deploy instruments for field work in forests, cropland, cities, glaciers, and oceans around the world. We have extensive cluster-computing facilities in our own departments, as well as high-performance computing facilities both at UBC and at large computing centers across Canada. We are increasingly using cloud computing for near-infinite processing power and data storage. In addition, software licenses paid by UBC covers powerful desktop data analysis, programming, and visualization apps.

Tuition & Financial Support

Tuition

FeesCanadian Citizen / Permanent Resident / Refugee / DiplomatInternational
Application Fee$106.00$168.25
Tuition *
Installments per year33
Tuition per installment$1,698.56$2,984.09
Tuition per year
(plus annual increase, usually 2%-5%)
$5,095.68$8,952.27
Int. Tuition Award (ITA) per year (if eligible) $3,200.00 (-)
Other Fees and Costs
Student Fees (yearly)$944.51 (approx.)
Costs of living (yearly)starting at $16,954.00 (check cost calculator)
* Regular, full-time tuition. For on-leave, extension, continuing or part time (if applicable) fees see UBC Calendar.
All fees for the year are subject to adjustment and UBC reserves the right to change any fees without notice at any time, including tuition and student fees. Tuition fees are reviewed annually by the UBC Board of Governors. In recent years, tuition increases have been 2% for continuing domestic students and between 2% and 5% for continuing international students. New students may see higher increases in tuition. Admitted students who defer their admission are subject to the potentially higher tuition fees for incoming students effective at the later program start date. In case of a discrepancy between this webpage and the UBC Calendar, the UBC Calendar entry will be held to be correct.

Financial Support

Applicants to UBC have access to a variety of funding options, including merit-based (i.e. based on your academic performance) and need-based (i.e. based on your financial situation) opportunities.

Program Funding Packages

Masters students are guaranteed a minimum of salary of CAN$ $21,536.28 per year for the first two years, which can consist of research assistantships (RAs) to help professors with their grants and contracts, teaching assistantships (TAs) to help teach courses and labs and grade assignments, scholarships and prizes, and combinations of all the above.  An exception is students in the ATSC co-op masters program, who earn a salary from an agency (industry, government, or academia) during their work terms, but not during their academic terms.

Scholarships & awards (merit-based funding)

All applicants are encouraged to review the awards listing to identify potential opportunities to fund their graduate education. The database lists merit-based scholarships and awards and allows for filtering by various criteria, such as domestic vs. international or degree level.

Teaching Assistantships (GTA)

Graduate programs may have Teaching Assistantships available for registered full-time graduate students. Full teaching assistantships involve 12 hours work per week in preparation, lecturing, or laboratory instruction although many graduate programs offer partial TA appointments at less than 12 hours per week. Teaching assistantship rates are set by collective bargaining between the University and the Teaching Assistants' Union.

Research Assistantships (GRA)

Many professors are able to provide Research Assistantships (GRA) from their research grants to support full-time graduate students studying under their direction. The duties usually constitute part of the student's graduate degree requirements. A Graduate Research Assistantship is a form of financial support for a period of graduate study and is, therefore, not covered by a collective agreement. Unlike other forms of fellowship support for graduate students, the amount of a GRA is neither fixed nor subject to a university-wide formula. The stipend amounts vary widely, and are dependent on the field of study and the type of research grant from which the assistantship is being funded. Some research projects also require targeted research assistance and thus hire graduate students on an hourly basis.

Financial aid (need-based funding)

Canadian and US applicants may qualify for governmental loans to finance their studies. Please review eligibility and types of loans.

All students may be able to access private sector or bank loans.

Foreign government scholarships

Many foreign governments provide support to their citizens in pursuing education abroad. International applicants should check the various governmental resources in their home country, such as the Department of Education, for available scholarships.

Working while studying

The possibility to pursue work to supplement income may depend on the demands the program has on students. It should be carefully weighed if work leads to prolonged program durations or whether work placements can be meaningfully embedded into a program.

International students enrolled as full-time students with a valid study permit can work on campus for unlimited hours and work off-campus for no more than 20 hours a week.

A good starting point to explore student jobs is the UBC Work Learn program or a Co-Op placement.

Tax credits and RRSP withdrawals

Students with taxable income in Canada may be able to claim federal or provincial tax credits.

Canadian residents with RRSP accounts may be able to use the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) which allows students to withdraw amounts from their registered retirement savings plan (RRSPs) to finance full-time training or education for themselves or their partner.

Please review Filing taxes in Canada on the student services website for more information.

Cost Calculator

Applicants have access to the cost calculator to develop a financial plan that takes into account various income sources and expenses.

Career Options

The 2-year MSc program in Atmospheric Science prepares students to be analysts of the atmospheric environment.  Industry jobs include air-quality and environmental consulting, weather-related renewable energy (wind, solar, and hydro power), modeling of the environment, weather-related natural disasters (forest fires, avalanches, floods), computer programming of tailored weather forecasts, and big-data analysis.  Government jobs span municipal, regional, and provincial environment ministries as well as traditional weather-forecasting jobs with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).  Graduates can also get jobs as airline pilots and air-traffic controllers.

ATSC Masters programs include: thesis option, non-thesis (course-based) option, and co-op option (where you work part time with industry, academia, or government).  About 40% of the Masters students, those with high grades and strong recommendations, choose to switch into the PhD program after the first year of course work without finishing a Masters degree first.

Enrolment, Duration & Other Stats

These statistics show data for the Master of Science in Atmospheric Science (MSc). Data are separated for each degree program combination. You may view data for other degree options in the respective program profile.

Enrolment Data

 20192018201720162015
Applications1512151416
Offers46423
New registrations33312
Total enrolment64549

Completion Rates & Times

This program has a graduation rate of 58.33% based on 12 students admitted between 2009 - 2012. Based on 8 graduations between 2015 - 2018 the minimum time to completion is 2.32 years and the maximum time is 3.66 years with an average of 2.66 years of study. All calculations exclude leave times.
Disclaimer
Admissions data refer to all UBC Vancouver applications, offers, new registrants for each year, May to April [data updated: 10 March 2020]. Enrolment data are based on March 1 snapshots. Program completion data are only provided for datasets comprised of more than 4 individuals. Rates and times of completion depend on a number of variables (e.g. curriculum requirements, student funding), some of which may have changed in recent years for some programs [data updated: 27 October 2019].

Research Supervisors

This list shows faculty members with full supervisory privileges who are affiliated with this program. It is not a comprehensive list of all potential supervisors as faculty from other programs or faculty members without full supervisory privileges can request approvals to supervise graduate students in this program.

  • Allen, Susan Elizabeth (Oceans and Inland Waters, Prediction and Climatic Modeling, physical oceanography, coastal oceanography, forecast models, coupled bio-physics and chem-physics and all three models)
  • Austin, Philip (global climate; climate change; greenhouse effect; global warming; clouds; lightning; storms, Cloud physics, radiative properties of layer clouds, status cirrus formation, global climate, cloug aerosol feedbacks and climate)
  • Balmforth, Neil (Fluid mechanics, nonlinear dynamics and applied partial differential equations)
  • Bertram, Allan (Atmosphere (Including Chemical Aspects), Physical and analytical chemistry of atmospheric aerosols)
  • Black, Thomas Andrew (Biometeorology, Soil physics, Microclimate modification)
  • Donner, Simon (Climate Changes and Impacts, Prediction and Climatic Modeling, Marine Environment, Climate change science, Climate policy, Science communication, Coastal Ecosystems)
  • Giang, Amanda (Atmospheric Pollutants, Climate Changes and Impacts, Chemical Pollutants, Social and Cultural Factors of Environmental Protection, Public Policies)
  • Knox, Sara (Ecological and Ecophysiological Processes, Ecosystem (Aquatic and Terrestrial), Climate Changes and Impacts, Atmosphere (Including Chemical Aspects), Micrometeorology, Biogeochemistry, Hydrology, Ecology, climate change)
  • McKendry, Ian (Air pollution Climatology)
  • Pawlowicz, Richard (Oceans and Inland Waters, ocean physics, properties of seawater, geophysical fluid dynamics, Nonlinear waves)
  • Radic, Valentina (Climate Changes and Impacts, Glaciology, Meteorology, Climate Science)
  • Stull, Roland (weather forecasting, meteorology, atmospheric sciences, green energy, wind power, hydro power, weather disasters, natural disasters, storms, forest-fire weather, avalanche weather, wind storms, numerical weather prediction, BC weather, Numerical weather prediction, geophysical disasters)
  • Waterman, Stephanie (Ocean dynamics, Scale interactions, Oceanic processes, Arctic oceanography, Southern ocean dynamics, Western boundary current jets, Geophysical fluid dynamics, jets, eddies & scale interactions)
  • Zimmerman, Naomi (development and application of real-world-based tools to quickly and quantitatively assess the impact of our policy and technology decisions on air pollution and climate outcomes, and to use the knowledge gained to support better environmental policy planning; air quality)

Further Program Information

Specialization

Atmospheric Science at UBC offers these areas of graduate research:

  • boundary layers and micrometeorology, including turbulence, urban meteorology, and mountain meteorology
  • numerical weather prediction for transportation, weather disasters, and clean energy (hydro, wind, solar)
  • air pollution, pollutant transport and dispersion, and atmospheric chemistry
  • climate, including climatology, climate variability and prediction, earth system modelling, climate change, glaciers
  • satellite remote sensing, cloud microphysics, aerosols
  • ocean-atmosphere interactions, ocean dynamics
  • biometeorology, including agricultural and forest meteorology, trace gas exchange, carbon cycling, vegetation water use
  • geophysical fluid dynamics
  • machine-learning tools including artificial neural networks, gene-expression programming

Faculty Overview

Program Identifier

VGMMSC-CD
 
 

September 2021 Intake

Application Open Date
01 October 2020
Canadian Applicant Deadline
15 January 2021
International Applicant Deadline
15 January 2021
 

Supervisor Search

 

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